Windows 10 is here at last!

windows-10-logoLast week Microsoft released their latest operating system, the much anticipated Windows 10. I have been using the early developer builds since last October, and it has been fun watching it evolve. I’m excited that it is finally available to everyone.

I’m going to write a more in depth review of Windows 10 next week, but I will say that I really like it so far. It corrects many of the mistakes made with Windows 8, brings back some popular features of Windows 7, and adds some really innovative new features as well.

This article is more about how to upgrade your PC, if you choose to do so. Please note that it is recommended that you backup your important files before starting the upgrade. It won’t normally delete any files, but if something does go wrong data could be lost.

Who can upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 is currently being offered as a completely free update to anyone using Windows 7 or 8.1.

After a year, anyone who has not taken advantage of the free upgrade offer will have to pay to update their PCs. There is no rush, but if you do intend to upgrade, do it before July 29, 2016.

If you would like to upgrade a PC that is running Windows XP or Vista you are out of luck… you’ll have to pay for the upgrade. Honestly though, if your computer is that old it’s probably worth considering buying a new one.

And hey, you can even install Windows 10 on your Mac if you’d like (but not for free).

Should I upgrade?

That depends.

If you are using Windows 8 then I would say yes, you should definitely upgrade to Windows 10. If you are using Windows 7 then you might also have some older software or hardware (such as a printer) that could be incompatible with Windows 10. In most cases you won’t run into any compatibility issues though.

You might also choose not to upgrade if you are dependent on software like “Windows Media Center” or “Windows Movie Maker” because they have been discontinued and do not work with Windows 10.

How do I get Windows 10?

The easiest way is to wait for it to show up in your Windows Update app.

You may have noticed that a small Windows icon appeared in your taskbar last month, and if you clicked on it you could reserve your update. That would tell Microsoft that you did intend to update your PC and that it was okay for them to begin downloading the installation files to your computer ahead of the release on July 29th.

If you did not see the Windows icon in your taskbar, it probably means your current version of Windows has not installed all of the necessary updates first. This is required before you can install Windows 10.

Then, starting on July 29th, Microsoft would ask if you still want to upgrade, and if you chose yes, the update process would begin.

If you have reserved your copy of Windows 10 but have not been asked to start the Windows 10 update, don’t worry. Microsoft is releasing the update in waves so that it doesn’t overwhelm their servers. It also gives them the opportunity to correct issues that might show up as more people install Windows 10.

What if I don’t want to wait?

The second way to get Windows 10 is to download the media creation tool from the Microsoft website. This will create a DVD or USB thumbdrive that you can use to upgrade your PC without waiting.

This method is slightly more difficult because you have to select which version of Windows 10 you wish to upgrade to. Unfortunately, there is more than one version to choose from, and you don’t want to pick the wrong one.

First, you need to determine if you need the 32 bit or 64 bit version. If you have a PC built within the last few years and it has 4gb of RAM or more, then choose the 64 bit version. The 32 bit version will not allow you to make use of more than 4gb of RAM.

Second, you need to choose either the Home or Pro version of Windows 10. If you are currently using the Home edition of Windows 7 or 8, then you are only able to upgrade to the Home edition of Windows 10. If you are using the Ultimate or Pro editions of Windows 7 or 8, you can upgrade to the Pro edition of Windows 10.

You will also see versions called “Windows 10 N”, but you can ignore those. They are stripped down versions intended for countries like Korea, and are missing certain features.

Once you have created the installation DVD or USB, you can run the setup application and the process will begin. It will take about an hour or so to complete, and your PC will restart several times, but it’s really pretty straight forward from this point on.

So that’s about it. Keep an eye out for my review of Windows 10 next week!

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