Windows 10 is coming. It’s actually already here, but you might not know it yet. What does it mean for you? For starters, it’s a FREE upgrade. If you are running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 you should already have noticed a little notification icon in your tray asking you to reserve your free copy. After this year is up, it will cost you about $120, so upgrading early is probably a good bet, especially since it is feature packed and very solid.

Some good things about Windows 10: it’s fast. The start menu is back (some people didn’t like the Windows 8 start menu, despite the fact it made things easier to find). It brings a new browser from Microsoft that is faster than any others in benchmarks. It has universal device compatibility, you can use it on tablets, phones, desktops, and anything in between. Did I mention it’s also free? It’s free.

If you’re upgrading to Windows 10 on a desktop or laptop PC, then prepare to be delightfully surprised: the Start menu you know and love is back. It feels slightly odd to celebrate its return, as it should never have gone away. It’s probably the biggest change, aside from the dark theme, that you’ll notice after Windows 8. But Microsoft hasn’t simply just reinstated the old version from Windows 7. Instead, it’s completely redesigned it in a way that combines the best aspects of the last two versions of Windows.

Navigating around Windows 10 is also greatly improved. The annoying hot corners in Windows 8 that made you pull your hair out just trying to access settings or even the Start screen have been removed. A new Action Center works as a notification center to collect alerts from apps and provide quick access to settings.

Microsoft has also built a virtual assistant like Siri/Google Now right into Windows 10. It’s called Cortana, and it’s designed to look and feel like an extension of the Start menu, and just like the Windows Phone equivalent, you can also use your voice to search. There’s also an option to enable a “hey Cortana” feature that lets you simply holler questions at your laptop. It’s useful for simple things like the weather, but I found myself mostly using it to demonstrate Cortana to friends and family.


Will my device run it?

The system requirement for Windows 10 aren’t exactly taxing, few people should have any issues running the new OS.

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 1024×600

If I buy a new PC today, can it upgrade to Windows 10?

Yes, new qualified PCs can run Windows 10. Windows 10 is designed to be compatible with the Windows 8.1 laptop, tablet or desktop PCs that are for sale now. Device manufacturers make decisions about their device models and some Windows 10 features may not be available on certain devices, so be sure to check with the retailer or manufacturer for details.

How long does it take to install the upgrade?

Plan for about an hour for the installation. Newer devices may only take 20 minutes, and older devices may take more than an hour.

You’ll need to download the installation files before you begin. If you reserve, Microsoft will take care of downloading those files for you and let you know when you are ready to get started.

Can I get my free Windows 10 upgrade even if I didn’t reserve?

Yes. The easiest way to get the free upgrade is to reserve, but you can upgrade even if you don’t reserve.

Once Windows 10 is available, Microsoft will begin notifying devices that their free upgrade is available. Just open the Get Windows 10 app to schedule your upgrade. Note: Some notifications will go out as soon as Windows 10 is available; others may go out in the weeks or months following.

What if I have more than one Windows device—can I upgrade them all?

Yes, you can get a free upgrade for each of your eligible Windows devices. All you need to do is make a separate reservation for each device you want to upgrade.

Will my devices and apps work with Windows 10?

Windows 10 is designed to be compatible with the vast majority of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices — so your device is most likely compatible.

For details on your specific device and apps, you can use the Get Windows 10 app to do a compatibility check. Click the menu in the upper left of the app, and select “Check your PC” or “Your PC is good to go.” This displays any compatibility issues it finds and recommends a resolution; while there isn’t info on every app or device in existence, it provides a comprehensive list of all known potential compatibility issues.

Some Windows 10 features will require advanced hardware and not all features and services are available on every device, nor in every market. For instance, Cortana is not available in all markets.

Will all my stuff be in the cloud?

Your files are saved on the hard drive of your device by default. Windows 10 includes OneDrive which provides free storage space in the cloud; this is completely optional, but gives you the benefit of being able to access your personal files from anywhere.

So should I update right now?

If you are running any kind of mission critical software, hold off until it has been tested properly. For my clients that are in any medical professions, I have recommended holding off until we can get either a test computer onsite (which I already have ready to go!) or until their software vendor has verified that it is working. If your software runs on Windows 8 (which it should, it’s now 3 years old) then you will probably be fine, but it’s better to test first. If you just use your computer for internet and email, what are you waiting for? It’s slick, fast, and moving forward you will always have the most up-to-date version of Windows, as they will continually be updating this with new features. Why not try it out? There is a very small learning curve to Windows 10, and you can always head to your local store to try it out.