Windows 10 was officially released on July 29th, 2015 and despite some initial teething problems (like the Start Menu crashing for one!) it has been well received. For a limited period, Microsoft offered a free upgrade to Windows 7/8 users, a first for Microsoft although the somewhat aggressive and persistent manner the upgrade initially rolled out annoyed many. After Microsoft re-categorised the Windows 10 upgrade from optional to recommended, many users who did not plan to upgrade or wanted to delay it, got the upgrade anyway.
So what’s new in Windows 10? A shiny new web browser called Edge which Microsoft after some initial uncertainty confirmed will eventually support browser extensions (think Adblock!). Fans of Internet Explorer still have access to IE11 and of course can also download third party web browsers such as Chrome, Firefox and Opera. The Start Menu, a feature that was annoyingly replaced by the tile based Start Screen in Windows 8 has made a comeback all be it in a hybrid form. You now get a combination of live tiles in addition to a menu. Cortana, a voice activated personal assistant is another new feature designed to help with various tasks which are mainly search orientated (similar to Apple’s Siri). Since Windows 10 works across all manner of hardware such as PCs, convertables, tablets and smartphone the operating system can automatically switch between desktop and tablet mode to provide the best user interface for apps and services. Windows 10 is also much better at keeping information synchronised using a series of Apps and features such as Onedrive. Onedrive is Microsoft’s cloud storage service and is now built into Windows 10 with a limited amount of free cloud storage.
Preparing for the upgrade. If you are buying a new Windows PC, laptop or tablet the chances are it will already be pre-installed with Windows 10 but what about the upgrade process for Windows 7 and 8 machines? The free upgrade offer officially ended on July 29th 2016 (except for customers who use assistive technologies) so Windows 7/8 users will now have to purchase a Windows 10 upgrade starting from around £90.
Before the upgrade begins, the Windows 10 app Compatibility Report makes sure your PC can run Windows 10 and lists any problems with your devices, apps, PC, along with any other important info you need to know before you upgrade. Of course you can run the compatibility checker before committing to any purchase. Don’t completely rely on the Windows compatibility report though, make your own checks by visiting your PC manufacturer support website and also the website of any important software vendors for Windows 10 information. This is particularly important for small businesses and homeworkers using less mainstream or bespoke software as you may find after the upgrade, your essential software or hardware stops working.
Backup first! Without wanting to be too pessimistic, it’s wise to have a full system backup in case the worst happens and the upgrade fails rendering your computer unusable. Consider using Windows Backup or File History in Windows 8 to take a full system image.
The upgrade itself can take a number of hours depending on your internet connection and hardware so it’s important to choose a time that fits in with your schedule.
It’s worth noting that Windows 10 will remove the Windows Media Center app (found on some media center computers and laptops). Windows Media Player on the other hand will not be removed however it will lose DVD playback capability but you could download VLC media player for free (other Media players are available!) as a substitute.
Since Windows 10 has been around for well over a year now, most upgrades are likely to go smoothly. Should you not be totally satisfied with the Windows 10 experience or discover incompatibilities afterwards it is usually possible to roll back to the previous installation of Windows 7 or 8 within 30 days of the original upgrade. Although Windows 7 has already reached the end of mainstream support (no more feature or product tweaks) Microsoft still offer extended support till 2020 ensuring that you receive critical security updates and patches. This means if you have an older system that doesn’t have much left in the tank, or you are just wary of compatibility issues, it should be relatively safe to stick with Windows 7/8 for the time being.
Get in touch with ITPeople to alleviate any concerns or pressing queries regarding Windows 10 upgrades!