Next week on July 29 Windows 10 will be released. It is the biggest release of Windows, ever. You are probably eligible for a free update. Here are the most important things to know.
- If you have Windows 7, 8, or 8.1, you will get the update for free. Yes, free. This is the first time Microsoft has done this in the history of Windows.
- There is no catch or a subscription-based model, you will get a new product key that is valid for the entire life-cycle of the software (supported till 2025).
- So yeah, it’s really free. Even for the PC you bought back in 2009 that came with Windows 7.
- See the little white Windows icon on the bottom right of your screen? Click on it to reserve your update.
- The release will happen in waves, not all at once. MS does this to prevent breaking the internet, and to keep an eye on things that may go wrong. There’s no guarantee you will actually get it on the 29th itself. How long the total release will take, MS hasn’t said, but probably a couple of weeks. There are over a billion PCs out there to update, after all.
- If you don’t want to get it right away, you have a year to decide. After July 29, 2016, the free update offer expires and you’ll have to pay for it, just like the olden days.
- Your computer will download the update automatically in the background if you reserved the update. Once it’s ready to install, you will receive a notification.
- The upgrade tool will do a hardware check to see if your system is compatible with Windows 10. If not, it will not install it until everything is in order, so there’s not much that can go wrong.
- You will be able to do an update install, which means you keep all your settings and files.
- You will also be able to do a clean install, giving you a factory-clean PC. This is generally the best option because a clean start is always good, but be sure to back-up your files before doing so; it will wipe your entire computer.
- You will be able to roll back the update. If you’ve installed it and aren’t happy with it, you can go back to the previous version.
- The update will probably take quite some time, especially if you have a lot of software installed. It’s probably best to let it run at night or while you’re busy doing something else. Some cases will take half an hour, some cases will take half a day.
- Windows 10 is a mix of the good things of 7 and 8, with a whole lot of stuff on top of it.
- If you’re used to using any older version of Windows, you’ll feel right at home.
- It is fast as hell, both on new and old systems.
- The Start menu is back and better than ever. You can put modern apps in there which are also widgets that display information like the weather, stocks, emails, news, calendar, etc. If you don’t like this, you can turn it off and have a Windows 7-like experience (but why should you). Full-screen Start is still optional for tablet users.
- There is an app store now, and the apps in there work great on the desktop. Microsoft caught a ton of shit for the way they handled apps in Windows 8 (they basically put full-screen tablet apps on PCs. It didn’t really work), and it’s evident they listened to their critics. The “Windows apps”, as they’re called now, are completely adaptive, which means they change themselves based on what they run on. Be it a multi-monitor desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a phone. Microsoft’s idea of the future of apps is making them fully cross-platform, and it’s the first company to do this.
- Instead of separate PC apps, tablet apps, and phone apps, there’s one single app that adapts to whatever you’re doing with it. This is truly revolutionary stuff. Here’s a more visual explanation:
- Internet Explorer is officially dead. It’s been replaced by Edge, and it’s currently the fastest browser out there. Faster than Chrome, Firefox and Safari (as of July 2015).
- Windows has a virtual assisant called Cortana now. She is very smart, and convenient to have around. It’s a feature that’s easy to get used to. Ask her anything by saying “Hey Cortana” to your computer, or by pressing Windows Key + Q.
- Virtual desktops are here. Great if you have a lot going on, or if your desktop is a mess and you need more space (me). Keyboard shortcuts I will be using a lot:
- Windows Key + Ctrl + D – Create a new virtual desktop and switch to it.
- Windows Key + Ctrl + F4 – Close the current virtual desktop.
- Windows Key + Ctrl + Left / Right – Switch to the virtual desktop on the left or right.
- HoloLens support. Mind-blowing stuff. Star-Wars technology has arrived.
- Lots of features for gamers
- Built-in screen recording, including loop-recording, which lets you save the last 30 seconds of your screen at the push of a button.
- Xbox One streaming. If you have an Xbox One in the house, you can use any Windows 10 device as a screen to play on.
- Unified multiplayer with Xbox One gamers.
- DirectX12, which results in much better 3D performance across the board; literally over 100% performance gains are possible on the same hardware compared to DirectX11. Windows 10 will be the only version to get it.
A lot of other familiar features are improved and changed, and everything looks modern, flat, slick. I could write an entire page of more details, but this is the gist of it.
So, should you install it?
- Windows 10 is extremely lightweight and fast.
- It runs better than 7 and 8.1 on old hardware.
- It runs better than 7 and 8.1 on modern hardware.
- It’s more secure than 7 and 8.1.
- It adds many useful features for desktop and touch-based devices.
- It gives you access to the windows app store, which contains many applications that are Windows 10-only. This will eventually be the go-to way to get applications for Windows, as well.
- Updating to Windows 10 means your computer will receive updates till 2025.
- It’s been tested by millions of users for almost a year by now (including yours truly), so there’s no need to wait till the bugs have been ironed out.
- It’s free (unless your computer is really, really old).
Hell yeah. Go for it.