Windows 10 is now just hours away from its public, proper launch. As we've discussed over the months and weeks leading into its roll out, it's actually rather good. But with all the talk of free versions and paid for versions, upgrade reservations and mandatory installations, you may be a little confused as to how best to get the new operating system onto your machine.
We've got you covered – going through the most common concerns from prospective Windows 10 users that we've heard, here's all you need to know to get going with Microsoft's latest and greatest.
I currently run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 - How do I upgrade?
For users on Microsoft's most recent operating systems upgrading is the most straightforward. Assuming that you have all of your latest Windows Updates installed (including the crucial KB3035583) you should see a small Windows icon appear next to the clock on the bottom right of your screen. Hit this and it will launch the Windows 10 Update App.
In this app you can "reserve" your virtual copy of the new OS for free, and which will upgrade when the OS launches on July 29th. The app will download the update in the background, and then notify you once it is ready to go. It is as easy as that.
When upgrading - assuming you meet the system requirements - it will simply be a case of following the on-screen instructions. The upgrade app itself will check your system to make sure it is capable of running the new OS, and it will also warn you about software that won't work after upgrading.
The upgrade is set to go live on the 29th, though if you don't see the icon straight away don't panic, as it is likely that Microsoft will stagger the release to manage demand on its servers.
I'm currently on Windows XP or Vista... Can I upgrade?
Hopefully, yes! Though there will be a couple of hurdles. First, you should really check the system requirements; as you're on quite an old version of Windows, it suggests that your computer is quite old too. You'll need the following:
- 1GHz processor
- 1GB memory for Windows 10 32-bit ; 2GB for 64-bit
- 16GB free hard disk space for Windows 10 32-bit; or 20GB for 64-bit
- DirectX 9 (or later) compatible graphics card
- 800 x 600 resolution monitor
You'll also need to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 first. You can still buy Windows 8.1 in the Windows store online, but the good news is, if you shell out for this, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free after.
Can I do a clean install of Windows 10 rather than upgrade?
Hopefully, yes! If you'd rather start afresh then it will be possible to do a fresh install of Windows 10. Microsoft has said that all you'll need is your license key from the upgrade app in order make it work for free, without having to pay money for the privilege.
It isn't immediately clear exactly how this will work. To do a clean install you'll need a Windows 10 disk image ("ISO") burnt on to either a DVD or a USB stick, and will have to boot up your computer to run from the disk. What isn't clear is whether Microsoft will make the ISO immediately available or not, and how. For example, will the Windows 10 Upgrade app have a built-in facility to create a bootable disk, or will you need to download the ISO and figure out how to do it manually?
One option could be to buy a "retail" copy... see the next section for details.
I have a slow internet connection, do I have to download?
Microsoft has said that it will be selling "retail" copies of the new OS on both DVD and USB memory stick, which would solve the problem (and cost you). But these aren't expected to ship until at least August 30th, a whole month after everyone else gets Windows 10 to upgrade. The home version will cost £99.99 and the Pro version will cost somewhere in the region of £170 when it does launch.
I need the Business, Enterprise or Education version of Windows - how do I upgrade?
Windows 10 won't be available for "Windows Volume Licensing" customers until August 1st. And even then, you'll have to wait for your system administrator to roll out the update across your network. So don't expect to be playing with Windows 10 when you get into work later this week.
Can I block Windows 10 Updates or downgrade?
Yep. But be very careful. Our pals at TechRadar have revealed that Microsoft will be launching a tool that will let you manually stop specific Windows 10 updates. This could be useful if it means stopping an update that breaks your graphics card, but it also means that if you don't know what you're doing, your computer could be open to security vulnerabilities that haven't been patched. So proceed with caution.
Microsoft has also claimed that you'll be able to downgrade again to an older version of Windows if you don't like the changes, which could be useful if your computer can't really handle running Windows 10 after all.