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Microsoft to offer Windows 10 as a free upgrade?

Rumours are suggesting that Microsoft could be ready to give Windows 10 away for free to Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 users as the firm looks ahead to the launch of its next operating system.

As the focus turns increasingly towards Windows 8's successor, expected to be released in spring 2015, indications are that Microsoft could offer a deal to existing customers.

Read more: Windows 9 screenshot leaks reveal closer look at new Start Menu as release date draws closer

ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley reports that in order to entice users away from legacy platforms, the company may offer its new release as a free upgrade for those still using iterations prior to Windows 8.

It is a tactic that Microsoft has used previously in order to boost the transition from old platforms to new ones, and the deal may help prevent users from switching to Google Chrome or Apple's OS X.

According to ZDNet's sources, the Windows 8.1 Update 2 will launch on 12 August, through the company's Patch Tuesday. It is likely to be an optional update and will only include minor design changes.

Instead, the primary focus will be on Windows 10, also known as Threshold, which is expected to include major changes, including a new start menu alongside more modern, tiled applications.

Read more: What Microsoft must introduce with Windows 9

If rumours of a free upgrade are true, they will likely have been prompted by the disappointing reaction to Windows 8. In its first 20 months, the OS achieved just a 12.5 per cent market share, lower even than Vista achieved in the same period, with the underachieving platform managing 19 per cent.