There’s a free operating system coming for your computer.

Well, maybe not yours. But it’s a good bet that you might be among the 85 percent of computer users who currently run Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 as an operating system.

If so, Windows 10 — Microsoft’s upgrade due out later this year — will be free until one year after its release date. There has been no suggested retail price given for after that date.

Microsoft is making the offer to drag users away from Windows 7. That operating system, released in mid-2009, quickly became “the new XP” — a previous version of Windows that is still used by 16 percent of all Windows users. That puts it in second place (behind Windows 7) as the most preferred Windows operating system.

Following Windows 7 came Windows 8 — a change that was so drastic it even did away with the familiar “Start” button.

How long has the “Start” button been around? Come this August, 20 years. That dates back to the 32-cent postage stamp; to when the Dow Jones industrial average was just over 5,000; to when O. J. Simpson went on trial in California.

And that missing “Start” button is one reason — among many others — that Windows 8 has not developed a larger following. Together, Windows 8 and 8.1 have about the same percentage of users as Windows XP has. And Windows XP turns 14 years old in October.

When an operating system that came out at the turn of the century is still as popular as your latest two versions combined, it’s time to reconsider the game plan.

Somewhere along the way, a Microsoft official noticed that Windows 7 had become the fastest-selling operating system in the company’s history. Much of that success could be attributed to one thing: It was also the most consumer-tested operating system in history. More than 8 million consumers were involved in the beta testing of Windows 7. Their feedback proved invaluable.

Last month, Microsoft announced it had 2 million consumers working on testing Windows 10, which will not reach its final release stage until sometime this fall.

The “Start” button is coming back. Internet Explorer, the Web browser, will become known as “Spartan.” As the name implies, it will be more compact, quicker and more dependable. In other words, more like Chrome and Firefox.

Microsoft officials said in October, when the consumer testing phase began, that Windows 10 would undergo “the largest-ever open collaborative development effort.” Michael A. Silver, a research vice president with Gartner Inc., a technical research company, said calling it that was “a bit much.”

He added: “Extended feedback is probably more accurate.”

After getting some unwanted extended feedback following the release of Windows 8, someone at Microsoft had the vision to get feedback before the release of Windows 10.

Lonnie Brown writes for The Ledger in Lakeland, Florida, and can be reached at LedgerDatabase@aol.com.