Today is the big release day for Microsoft’s latest operating system “Windows 10.” This time around, however, it’s different. For anybody currently running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 you can upgrade to Windows 10 100% free. (Just make sure you meet the requirements). Although most of you will end up with a free copy of Windows 10 Home Edition (which is still an amazing operating system), if you own Windows 7 or 8 Professional or Ultimate Editions your upgrade will give you Windows 10 Pro!
Note: You can click on any image on this post to see it in more detail.
Anybody who has Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. Millions of people run those operating systems which means many many people will want the upgrade. So to avoid breaking the internet with loads of traffic, Microsoft decided to send out the upgrade in waves. That’s great for the internet, but not so great for the people that want Windows 10 now. By Microsoft’s standards you could wait days or weeks before you get your Windows 10 fix. Luckily there is a way for you to override Microsoft’s decision as to when you get your upgrade and its easy as downloading a setup program!
Your first step is to make sure your copy of Windows 7 or 8 is completely up to date. You can do this by searching for “Windows Update” in either your Start Menu or Charms Menu. If your Update program says up-to-date you are good to go! Otherwise download and install any remaining Windows Updates.
Once that is complete visit the Installing Windows 10 using the media creation tool page.(direct from Microsoft): http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10. Scroll to the bottom and choose Download Tool Now 64 or 32 bit version. You should choose the correct version for your pc by knowing whether or not you pc is 64 bit or 32 bit. Once you have downloaded the program…run it! Follow all the on screen instructions until Windows 10 is completely installed. This process can take anywhere from 30 minutes (on a fast computer with a good internet connection) to a few hours (on a pretty slow computer). Plan accordingly.
What Will I Lose?
Almost none of your programs or personal files will be affected. You may be disappointed if you were an avid fan of Microsoft’s preinstalled games such as Minesweeper, Solitaire, or Internet Checkers as those will be uninstalled. Microsoft Media Center and Microsoft Media Player will both be uninstalled.
You can, however, still play music and movies with the new media apps that come installed with Windows 10. If those aren’t to your liking you can install third party applications like VLC Player. If you get Windows 10 Home Edition, Internet Explorer will be replaced with Microsoft Edge, which may mean your bookmarks will disappear. However, if you got Windows 10 Pro Internet Explorer will be there! Your bookmarks may be lost, however. The “Metro” version of Internet Explorer no longer exists.
You will also lose your start screen…kind of. To explain, you can turn on your start screen through settings, but you may lose the organization of your tiles (like your groups, pinned internet pages, etc.) Your anti-virus may also become incompatible with Windows 10 but according to the Microsoft Forums that’s okay because Windows 10 comes pre-installed with Windows Defender. Windows Defender has the same capabilities as Microsoft Security Essentials, a widely used Security program that has pretty good functionality. You can still do security scans and everything else you could do with an anti- virus. Just open windows defender and have at it!
What will I Gain?
There are a boatload of new features that come with Windows 10, especially if you are upgrading from Windows 7 (you’ll get the best of Windows 8 and 10!).
Windows 10 combines both Windows 7 and Windows 8 by recreating the start menu while still maintaining the Windows 8 and 8.1 “Metro” theme by keeping the tiles. You can resize and customize the Start Menu to your liking. And if you want you can bring back the start screen.
Windows also changed several of the icons. Most noticeably, the File Explorer app got a touch up with both the icon and interface making some changes. Windows has also come with some new backgrounds, or you can choose your own custom one as always.. The desktop, overall remains the same, with the same basic functions. And the Active Desktop feature from 1998, sadly did not make a return 😉 .
You might have thought the new looking “E” icon on your desktop was for a new version of Internet Explorer. But no! It actually stands for “Microsoft Edge” their new and fully featured internet browser. Yes, internet Explorer still exists (if you have Windows 10 Pro) however Microsoft would prefer you move on to their new browser that was designed to replace the old one. It works like any other browser but one of the cool new features is the note taking ability. This feature allows you to write directly on a webpage with a virtual pen or mouse. It’s a bit tricky with the mouse, but if you have a virtual pen or something like a Bamboo tablet, writing on a webpage is seamless! After writing the notes you can save the webpage and the notes will stay in tact. You can also share the webpage with a friend with the notes that you took remaining on the site!
Cortana is the all new virtual assistant built right into the PC. You can alter its settings so that all you have to do is say “Hey Cortana” and she’ll pop right up. In the future she will be able to go with you on your phone too. And it doesn’t have to be a Windows Phone (which has had Cortana for a while). Soon, an app will be made available for iOS and Android.
Cortana does almost anything that a normal virtual assistant does, like Siri or Google Now. She can schedule reminders, read new emails, check the weather, and more! Some of her unique qualities include asking her to sing, she will do so and relatively in tune!
She can also play a game called the “movie game”. Just ask her to play the movie game and you’ll get the hang of it pretty quickly. Another useful trick is the ability to ask her to search for a specific file on your PC: By date, type, name, and more; Cortana will help you find it.
Although this feature isn’t exactly “original” it is new to the Windows environment. In the past many versions of the operating system Linux had the option for “multiple workspaces.” This is the equivalent of multiple desktops. Meaning you can have one set of programs open on one desktop, such as Microsoft Edge and File explorer, and another desktop that has another set of programs open, like the Windows Store and a Calculator. These two desktops remain separate. If you are on Desktop one you cannot see the programs open on Desktop two and vice versa. You can have as many desktops as you want!
The Notification Center
Finally the last major feature I will discuss is the Notification Center. The Notification Center is a nifty new tool that gathers all of your notifications and puts them into one place. This includes, emails,text messages (if it is linked with a phone), and more.
The Notification Center also has multiple Setting Control buttons. You can change your computer to tablet mode (works best with a 2-in-1), connect to a wireless display, write down a note, open all computer settings, connect to a VPN, turn on Quiet Hours, and toggle location services on and off. These all become very useful while adjusting to the new experience that Windows 10 brings to the table.
Tell me about your Windows 10 experience in comments!