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How to upgrade to Windows 10: What you need to know

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Beginning July 29, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will be able to download Windows 10. It’s a monumental shift for both Microsoft and its customers. But Microsoft has provided a wealth of information to ease the transition, and let you upgrade to Windows 10 as simply and easily as possible.

For consumers, the choice is a simple one: You’ll be upgraded to one of two versions of Windows 10: Windows 10 Home, or Windows 10 Professional. (This guide doesn't cover the upgrade process to Windows 10 Mobile for phones.) Microsoft has also released the official retail pricing for Windows 10, in case you're building a your own PC.

During the update process, plan to invest some time in prep work and at least an hour in the upgrade process itself. And be careful—some of your applications may be left behind.

Aside from one major component of some versions of Windows 7, however, the transition between the earlier versions of Microsoft’s operating system and the new Windows 10 that will officially be released on July 29 should be relatively painless. Basically, if you own a “Pro” version of Windows, you’ll migrate to the Professional version of Windows 10. Otherwise, expect to receive a copy of Windows 10 Home. (We have more about the individual Windows 10 editions here.)

windows 7 8 to windows 10 Microsoft

The upgrade path from Windows 7 and 8.1 to Windows 10.

Besides this story, a good reference is Microsoft’s Windows 10 FAQ itself, which explains, for example, what the Windows 10 reservation app is, how it works, whether you can update more than one Windows PC (yes) and whether you can cancel your reservation (also yes).  Also, it offers one piece of important advice: You’re running a genuine, licensed copy of Windows—sorry, Microsoft won’t be upgrading pirates for free.

Windows 10 prep work

If there’s one thing you need to make sure of, though, it’s that your PC is up to date. Windows 7 users must be running Service Pack 1 to enable the update, and Windows 8 users must have upgraded to the latest version of Windows 8.1. You’ll also need to enable your Windows 10 reservation. Look for the tiny Windows icon down in the right corner of your taskbar, and click it to launch the Windows 10 reservation app. Our earlier story walks you through the quick reservation process.

windows 10 taskbar reservation Mark Hachman

Here are the system requirements for Windows 10:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for a 32-bit version, or 2GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16GB for a 32-bit OS; 20GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 1024x600

Microsoft also warns that even if your PC seemingly meets those specifications, it might not be upgraded. “Driver and firmware support, application compatibility, and feature support” could affect whether the Windows 10 upgrade takes place. Fortunately, there’s one way to be sure: use the “check my PC” function within the reservation app.

Microsoft advises that the Windows 10 download will be about 3GB in size. Installation will take about 20 minutes for newer PCs, and possibly more than an hour for older ones. What the reservation process does is kick off background loading of some files before Windows 10 “unlocks” on July 29. (Some preordered PC games do the same thing.)

onedrive

Take advantage of cloud storage to save critical apps and files.

Be smart: Make sure all of your important files are backed up before beginning the upgrade process, either via OneDrive or a local external hard drive. By default, your files will remain on the hard drive. “Applications, files and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade, however some applications or settings may not migrate,” Microsoft says, somewhat cryptically.

And yes, it’s completely free, as long as you take advantage of the upgrade before July 29, 2016. Microsoft promises that upgrades will be free for the “supported lifespan” of the device; that’s the phrase that the company hasn’t really explained fully as yet.

What you’ll leave behind by migrating to Windows 10

The upgrade process will involve some sacrifices—but Microsoft is making an effort to make the transition as painless as possible.

Your beloved Minesweeper will be revamped for Windows 10.

For one thing, if you own the premium versions of Windows 7 — Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate—as well as Windows 8 Pro with Media Center or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center... say goodbye to Media Center. Microsoft is going to install its own DVD-playing app into Windows 10 to replace it. Likewise, Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be uninstalled. And the Windows 7 versions of Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts that came with Windows 7 will also vanish, to be replaced with new versions of those apps with Windows 10.

Microsoft also says that it may erase “some applications that came from your OEM.” That seems to imply that some of your PC’s bloatware—or prized utilities, depending on your view—could vanish.

Finally, Microsoft will uninstall, then reinstall, your antivirus application. If your subscription is out of date, however, only Microsoft’s own subpar antivirus app, Windows Defender, will be installed. (Microsoft tried this in 2013, then backed off.) Be sure and check this after upgrading.

Intel RealSense camera Mark Hachman

Windows Hello won’t recognize your face without a specialized depth camera.

Some additional assembly required

Keep in mind that older hardware simply won’t include some of the hardware conveniences being included inside new Windows 10 machines. For example, Windows Hello, which logs you into your PC by recognizing your face or your fingerprint, won’t work with a webcam—you’ll need a new depth camera (like a Kinect for Windows or Intel’s RealSense) to enable it, or a fingerprint reader. Speech recognition will work best with a high-fidelity microphone array, no surprise there. And there’s a whole host of nitty-gritty specifics that Microsoft has included for Windows 10 Professional, such as a requirements for BitLocker and Wi-Fi Direct Printing.

In general, however, it seems like your pre-Windows 10 checklist will be pretty short: Sign up for a “reservation” for Windows 10, back up critical files, and keep an eye on your antivirus subscription as the transition takes place. Chances are we’ll be upgrading at the same time, so you can rest assured that we’re all in it together.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

6:31 AM

Save your work: Microsoft is forcing an update and restart for Windows 10 tonight

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Windows 10 users, save all your work before logging out today. Microsoft is rolling out a major patch today and tonight that will force a system restart.

What’s known as “KB3081424” is a cumulative or “rollup” patch, tying together all of the major incremental updates that have already been applied to Windows 10 since the “release” version went live last week.

windows 10 update KB3081424 SR1 Mark Hachman

The page listing the downloads goes on and on, though what you’ll actually receive varies with how up-to-date your PC already is. When I manually asked for the update, it completed in a minute or two over a standard broadband connection. If you recently updated to Windows 10, some of these updates may have already been part of your upgrade.

Some are calling this the SR1 rollup, a name that's been used to signify the massive “Day 0” patch that Microsoft was originally expected to release. Because the KB3081424 update does apparently include recent code (some of the files have early August release dates), it’s fair to say that most PCs will receive something new.

In any event, Microsoft warns that your PC will restart. And because many of you are probably running Windows 10 Home, you won’t have the option of deferring your update. (Windows generally picks the middle of the night to apply patches.) 

Why this matters: If you’re using, say, Excel Online, which saves as you go, you won’t have to worry about losing your work. Ditto for Microsoft Office, or any application where autosaving is enabled. But if you’re working in an ancient Web app, or prefer to save your file manually as you go, or simply need your PC to stay up and running all night, be aware that Microsoft thinks differently. A forced restart isn’t something to panic about, but it is something to be aware of, especially as some Windows 10 updates now can’t be deferred.

6:27 AM

The Most Popular Post of July 2015 from The World of Windows.

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1.- Adobe AIR Beta: new features for out-of-browser application development.

The Adode® Flash® Platform runtimes, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR®, allow developers to create rich experiences – from console quality games and interactive content to full HD premium video – for desktop browsers as well as desktop and mobile apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android mobile d

2.- 40 Free Fonts Ideal For Retro And Vintage Designs (Chapter I).

Vintage and retro style designs can be a beautiful thing. By using a combination of rough textures, grunge patterns and brushes meant to add an aged or used appearance, designers can easily pull of this timeless look. To compliment this aged appearance, it is important to use the proper typogra...

The Most Popular Post of June 2015 from The World of Windows.

0 Comments »

1.- Adobe AIR Beta: new features for out-of-browser application development.

The Adode® Flash® Platform runtimes, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR®, allow developers to create rich experiences – from console quality games and interactive content to full HD premium video – for desktop browsers as well as desktop and mobile apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android mobile d

2.- 40 Free Fonts Ideal For Retro And Vintage Designs (Chapter I).

Vintage and retro style designs can be a beautiful thing. By using a combination of rough textures, grunge patterns and brushes meant to add an aged or used appearance, designers can easily pull of this timeless look. To compliment this aged appearance, it is important to use the proper typogra...

The Most Popular Post of May 2015 from The World of Windows.

0 Comments »

1.- Adobe AIR Beta: new features for out-of-browser application development.

The Adode® Flash® Platform runtimes, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR®, allow developers to create rich experiences – from console quality games and interactive content to full HD premium video – for desktop browsers as well as desktop and mobile apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android mobile d

2.- 40 Free Fonts Ideal For Retro And Vintage Designs (Chapter I).

Vintage and retro style designs can be a beautiful thing. By using a combination of rough textures, grunge patterns and brushes meant to add an aged or used appearance, designers can easily pull of this timeless look. To compliment this aged appearance, it is important to use the proper typogra...

 

The Most Popular Post of April 2015 from The World of Windows.

0 Comments »

1.- Adobe AIR Beta: new features for out-of-browser application development.

The Adode® Flash® Platform runtimes, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR®, allow developers to create rich experiences – from console quality games and interactive content to full HD premium video – for desktop browsers as well as desktop and mobile apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android mobile d

2.- 40 Free Fonts Ideal For Retro And Vintage Designs (Chapter I).

Vintage and retro style designs can be a beautiful thing. By using a combination of rough textures, grunge patterns and brushes meant to add an aged or used appearance, designers can easily pull of this timeless look. To compliment this aged appearance, it is important to use the proper typogra...

The Most Popular Post of March 2015 from The World of Windows.

0 Comments »

1.- Adobe AIR Beta: new features for out-of-browser application development.

The Adode® Flash® Platform runtimes, Adobe Flash Player and Adobe AIR®, allow developers to create rich experiences – from console quality games and interactive content to full HD premium video – for desktop browsers as well as desktop and mobile apps for iOS (iPhone/iPad) and Android mobile d

2.- 40 Free Fonts Ideal For Retro And Vintage Designs (Chapter I).

Vintage and retro style designs can be a beautiful thing. By using a combination of rough textures, grunge patterns and brushes meant to add an aged or used appearance, designers can easily pull of this timeless look. To compliment this aged appearance, it is important to use the proper typogra...

 

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