Windows 10 became available on July 29th 2015. The update will be free for all Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users via a notification that will appear in the lower right hand corner of the taskbar (known as the System Tray). Much like the updates for cell phones, it will happen in a gradual manner and be rolled out to groups of users at a time so you may not get the update right away.
Think of Windows 10 as what Windows 8 should have been; a continuation of the best parts of Windows 7, with new features and additions to provide a friendlier user interface regardless of if you are on a PC, a phone, or a tablet. Windows 10 also adds a continued revamp of the operating system boasting performance, usability, and other enhancements and optimizations.
Instead of the tiled start screen from Windows 8, you have probably heard the traditional start menu is making a return. The new start menu combines the traditional start menu with the live tiles from the Windows 8 start screen. It’s essentially the best of Windows 8 wrapped into Windows 7.
You’ll also meet Cortana, previously exclusive to Windows Phones, Cortana is Microsoft’s version of Siri; the spunky digital assistant Mac users have enjoyed on their iPhones for years. Cortana allows you to interact with your desktop in new ways, like using voice commands to perform certain actions or initiate a web search.
The Windows store has been revamped as well, and will allow you to browse through apps, movies, music, and TV shows which can be shared between all of your Windows phones, PCs, laptops, or tablets with the web syncing that was introduced in Windows 8. This makes it easier to setup a new PC by syncing your PC settings and apps for you automatically once you login with your Windows account.
While users can download Internet Explorer (we recommend against it) Windows 10 will come by default with a new browser called Microsoft Edge. Microsoft Edge comes with a number of new features and hopes to stand out from the competition with its Cortana integration for touchless web browsing.
For the first time ever, you will also get access to a feature previously withheld only for the Ultimate editions of Windows; Virtual Desktops. These allow you to run completely separate desktop screens simultaneously.
The upgrade process will be outlined as you click on your notification on or in the following days after release day. An upgrade from Windows 8 or Windows 7 to Windows 10 should be harmless and should at least preserve your files and most applications. You will need to have about an hour to do the installation, and will have to download the Windows 10 files which should be about 6GB in size, which depending on your Internet connection will take longer to download.
It’s a good idea to run the Windows Upgrade Assistant first, which will check your computer to ensure that everything is up to snuff, and that Windows 10 will run on your hardware. If everything checks out, you can proceed to download and then install the latest version. The installer will walk you through the process, then. But read each screen carefully and make sure to pay attention to messages to make sure you do not do a “clean install”. Then, you’ll just have to wait around while the system performs the update.
After the installation, verify that all your data has been saved, and that your programs were all reinstalled. Everything should have transferred over, but if you have any issues getting things to run you may need to run the program in “Compatibility View”, at least temporarily, until software manufacturers release updates for their programs.
Windows 7 users will have to reinstall Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts, games that came with Windows 7, but there are other alternatives on the Windows Store that are even better. Also, users that used Windows 7 gadgets will find those gone completely, as Windows 10 and even 8 removed those features.
Microsoft may also remove some of the “bloatware” that may have come with your computer such as Lenovo Utilities, Dell System Properties, or HP applications. These can probably be reinstalled, but they are removed because you generally don’t need them.
And finally, you should check your antivirus app to ensure that it has been installed and turned on. Microsoft may remove it during installation and install Windows Defender instead. If you liked your antivirus you will just have to reinstall it manually. (Be sure to disable Windows Defender in this case, so you don’t have two installed at once.)
Should I Upgrade?
While it may be exciting to upgrade to the latest and greatest, there have been reports of upgrade issues. While Microsoft is working quickly to release fixes for them, issues do exist. If there isn’t a feature or specific reason that you need to upgrade right away, you should consider waiting for everyone else to be the guinea pigs. You have until July of 2016 to complete the upgrade for free (after which time there will be an upgrade fee) but waiting a couple months, if you can, should be long enough for the software to be thoroughly tested. We had some issues with computers that we installed the Windows 10 preview version on, but those that have received the official update do seem to be running well.
Overall, we recommend you make sure all your data is backed up, and then you can proceed to go through the update knowing that you can restore from a backup if things are not right. If you are a Buffalo Wired IT client, we recommend calling us once you have received the update notification so that we can analyze your system to make sure it is update-ready before proceeding. And if you aren’t yet one of our IT clients but need assistance with the upgrade process, please give us a call to schedule your computer for diagnostic.