Windows 10 is available to everyone running Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 as a free upgrade until July 29, 2016. After this date the upgrade will cost between $90 and $120.
I recommend upgrading now if you can. There are many benefits to Windows 10 including the fact that your PC will always be on the most current version of Windows (perpetual upgrades for free until your hardware is too outdated) with the latest security patches. You can read about the features of Windows 10 here.
Before you do anything I would check the website or contact the support team of the manufacturer of your computer to make sure your computer is compatible with Windows 10. In some cases they may specifically say that Windows 10 might not be compatible at all when in reality there might only be one or possibly a few minor problems. Always look to the manufacturer first and give their answer some weight… but even if they claim it isn’t compatible I would still check Reddit, Google or Yahoo and see what other people are saying about the upgrade. Oh, and don’t read too much into any of these results unless they specifically mention the problems started with or have not gotten better after Build 1511 (plus updates). Search for something like “MODEL #” “Build 1511” (include the quotes) where MODEL # is the model number of your computer.
I began testing Windows 10 during the pre-release “Insider Preview” days on several computers where I work. There were a few hiccups but nothing major. One machine took almost two hours to upgrade (it normally only takes one hour), a few computers didn’t do well after the upgrade and I had to downgrade them to Windows 7 (I later did a clean installation of Windows 10 and these computers worked fine afterward) and a few built-in network cards didn’t work after the upgrade (in those cases I added a new network card).
Installation & Notes
You can upgrade to Windows 10 via the notification icon/pop-up on your computer (or from Windows Update on your Start menu). If you can’t get the upgrade to work using this method you can visit this page to upgrade manually. You can optionally download and create a DVD image (ISO) for other computers (friends and family). None of this will be possible after July 29 (the final two months!). After July 29 the free upgrade notification will no longer appear on your computer and manual upgrades will fail.
A quick but important note… once your device is upgraded it becomes digitally licensed to use Windows 10 from that point forward. This means that if you ever have to format your hard drive in the future and start over from scratch you can download the Windows 10 ISO from Microsoft and do a clean install of Windows 10. In other words, you won’t have to first install your original Windows 7,8 or 8.1 operating system and then upgrade to Windows 10… you will be able to do a clean, full installation of Windows 10. In this case when it asks for a key you can click “I don’t have one” and it will re-license itself once everything is done.
During installation you will definitely want to keep all of your current files so make sure you’ve chosen this option. Near the end of the installation you will be presented with a “Get going fast” screen with a default button named “Use Express settings”. Don’t click this button or press the enter key. On the left side of the screen click the “Customize settings” link and then turn off all options. I also click “Not now” for the Cortana screen. Screenshots:
If your computer
isn’t working well is totally jacked after the installation you can always revert back to your previous operating system (as long as you do so within 3 weeks). To do this: open the new Notification panel and click All settings > Update & security > Recovery and select either Go back to Windows 7 or Go back to Windows 8.
Q: Wait… how can I tell what version of Windows I’m running?
A: Right click on Computer, My Computer or This PC in the Start menu and select Properties. This will display a screen similar to this:
Q: Can you help? Or can you do this for me?
A: I might be able to help over email or by working on your computer remotely. I’m available by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. I live in the St. Louis area… if you’re local we might be able to work something out!