Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?
After much anticipation and hype, Microsoft is finally launching Windows 10 on Wednesday, July 29th. As people become aware of this free upgrade, they will likely wonder, “is it worth the trouble?”
For the long answer, visit PCWorld’s in-depth Windows 10 review. But here’s the short version.
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for current Windows 7 and Windows 8 users upgrading before July 29 of next year, 2016. After this, the upgrade will cost $119. Once you install Windows 10, you’ll keep getting updates through 2025 with no subscription fees or the like.
If you have questions, let us know. We offer free advice, plus we can help with the upgrade or any issues that may arise.
Windows XP Users
It’s time to upgrade to a newer operating system if you’re still using an Internet-connected Windows XP machine, as XP no longer receives critical security updates from Microsoft. Unfortunately, Windows XP users can’t get a free upgrade, and it’s very likely that the old hardware will not be compatible with Windows 10.
Our recommendation: Buy a new Windows 10 machine or a slightly older Windows 8 computer. Some users who don’t want to upgrade have opted for a safer, cheaper alternative, a user-friendly Linux distribution that will work with your current PC.
Also, remember that Office 2003 will be incompatible with Windows 8 or Windows 10.
Windows Vista Users
Windows 10 is a definite improvement over Windows Vista, but the upgrade won’t be free. A fully updated & patched Vista PC works reasonably well, and will continue to receive security updates from Microsoft through April 2017.
If I still owned a Vista-based PC, I would likely upgrade to a Windows 10 laptop or desktop, or I might save a few bucks and get a new Windows 8 since prices are fairly reasonable.
Make sure your computer meets Windows 10’s hardware requirements if you decide to upgrade an existing Vista PC.
Windows 7 Users
When Windows 8 launched, many tech bloggers advised against the upgrade, if you were happy with Windows 7. Windows 8’s lack of a start menu button and attempt to push tablet style apps to your PC was confusing and befuddling at best.
Windows 8.1 fixed many of the most frustrating issues, but now many critics are saying Windows 10 is a masterful blend of the best features of both Windows 7 and 8.
The start button has returned to Windows 10 by popular demand (and should have never disappeared in most people’s opinion). So the user interface will seem familiar to long-time Windows 7 users.
Though Windows 10 still includes Windows 8’s contentious Metro apps and Microsoft services, it still carries over Windows 8’s under-the-hood improvements: lightning-fast boot times, pooled Storage Spaces, networking improvements, a much-improved Task Manager, OneDrive syncing that carries your preferences from PC to PC, etc. The list of benefits goes on, but now without the odd Start screen, full-screen Metro apps, and their confusing (un)functionality.
There are also new features like the Cortana personal assistant, virtual desktops, and the performance-enhancing DirectX 12 graphics API, which seeks to supercharge future generations of games.
With all the new features, and the low price of free, we think it’s safe to move on from faithful Windows 7.
There is caveat that you might consider if you’re a heavy Windows Media Center user. Windows 10 doesn’t support or include WMC, even if you upgrade from a system that already has it installed.
If you upgrade from a version of Windows with WMC installed, Microsoft will at least provide you with some alternative source of DVD playback later this year. In the interim, VLC is free and a great option.
Also, if you’re a current or future Xbox One user, it has replaced WMC in the living room as far as Microsoft’s concerned, and it is upgrading to Windows 10 anyway.
Windows 8 and 8.1 Users
Yes. Go ahead and upgrade. Reserve your download here. There is no reason not to, unless you’ve purchased Windows 8’s optional Windows Media Center add-on pack and don’t want to lose access to that software.
View the Windows 10 FAQ for more info
Check out the full Windows 10 system requirements and important notes below from Microsoft’s website.
These are for a pre-released version of Windows 10 and are subject to change.
If you want to upgrade to Windows 10 on your PC or tablet, here’s what it takes.
- Latest OS: Make sure you are running the latest version either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
- 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: 800×600
- The upgradeability of a device has factors beyond the system specification. This includes driver and firmware support, application compatibility, and feature support, regardless of whether or not the device meets the minimum system specification for Windows 10.
- If your PC or tablet is currently running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update, you can check to see if it meets the requirements by using ‘Check my PC’ in the Get Windows 10 app.
- Applications, files and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade, however some applications or settings may not migrate.
- For Anti-virus and Anti-malware applications, during upgrade Windows will check to see if your Anti-virus or Anti-malware subscription is current. Windows will uninstall your application while preserving your settings. After upgrade is complete, Windows will install the latest version available with the settings that were set prior to upgrade. If your subscription is not current, upgrade will enable Windows defender.
- Some applications that came from your OEM may be removed prior to upgrade.
- For certain third party applications, the “Get Windows 10” app will scan for application compatibility. If there is a known issue that will prevent the upgrade, you will be notified of the list of applications with known issues. You can choose to accept and the applications will be removed from the system prior to upgrade. Please copy the list before you accept the removal of the application.
- If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
- Watching DVDs requires separate playback software.
- Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
- Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.
- Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
- If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
- If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.
Additional requirements to use certain features
- Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.
- Speech recognition will vary by device microphone. For better speech experience you will need a:
- High fidelity microphone array
- Hardware driver with Microphone array geometry exposed
- Windows Hello requires specialized illuminated infrared camera for facial recognition or iris detection or a finger print reader which supports the Window Biometric Framework.
- Continuum is available on all Windows 10 editions by manually turning “tablet mode” on and off through the Action Center. Tablets and 2-in-1’s with GPIO indicators or those that have a laptop and slate indicator will be able to be configured to enter “tablet mode” automatically.
- Music and Video stream through the Xbox Music or Xbox video app available in certain regions. For the most up to date list of regions, please go to Xbox on Windows website.
- Two factor authentication requires the use of a PIN, Biometric (finger print reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities.
- The number of applications that can be snapped will depend upon the minimum resolution for the application.
- To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch. (more info)
- Microsoft account required for some features.
- Internet access (ISP) fees might apply.
- Secure boot requires firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database.
- Some IT administrators may enable Secure Logon (Ctrl + Alt + Del) before bringing you to the log in screen. On tablets without a keyboard, a tablet with the Windows button maybe required as the key combination on a tablet is Windows button + Power button.
- Some games and programs might require a graphics card compatible with DirectX 10 or higher for optimal performance.
- BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro only).
- BitLocker requires either Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
- Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and additional 2 GB of RAM (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
- Miracast requires a display adapter which supports Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.3, and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct.
- Wi-Fi Direct Printing requires a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct and a device that supports Wi-Fi Direct Printing.
- To install a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit PC, your processor needs to support CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW, and LAHF/SAHF.
- InstantGo works only with computers designed for Connected Standby.
- Device encryption requires a PC with InstantGo and TPM 2.0.
We’ll keep you on like-to-like editions of Windows. For instance, if you are using Windows 7 Home Premium, you’ll upgrade to Windows 10 Home.