Personal computers are getting a major makeover this week, as Microsoft releases the final version of Windows, free for selected devices.
Windows 10 will begin arriving today, as a download from the internet on personal computers running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, for users who have pre-registered their machines with Microsoft. It will also come pre-installed on new personal computers, or can be bought on a DVD or downloaded from the Windows Store.
Windows 10 is the last version of Windows because in the future, Microsoft will continue to upgrade the operating system piecemeal, one application or feature at a time. Its graphic user interface (GUI) from which it takes its name remains very familiar. Microsoft has ditched the blocky Start Screen, formerly known as Metro or the Modern UI, and bought back the Start Button, which not only returns a list of desktop programs, but also touch friendly apps that are easier to run on touch-screen equipped tablets.
In 10 year's time Windows 10 could look very different, but still be the same operating system.
Qualifying machines can register with Microsoft any time between now and the July 28, 2016 via the Window Upgrade app which has been automatically appearing in the notifications tray of qualifying computer's desktops for several weeks now.
But beware: if you don't connect your computer to the internet much or you have switched off the automatic updates in Windows, your machine may qualify but the Windows Upgrade app may not have downloaded.
To be sure your machine is up-to-date, search for "Windows Update" in the Search bar or Start screen, and click on it. In the Windows Update window click on "Check for Updates". If it's up-to-date and there's no Windows Upgrade app in the corner of the screen, your computer is not able to be upgraded to run Windows 10 for free.
In general most machines sold since Windows 7's release in October 2009 are powerful enough for Windows 10, with the exception of low specification netbooks.
As well as the latest versions of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, your computer needs:
a processor unit of 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster at least 1 GB or RAM at least 16 GB of free storage/hard disk drive space a graphics card capable of running DirectX 9 or later and a display/screen resolution of at least 800x600. If you attempt your own upgrade you can either go straight from your previous version of Windows, keeping your other software and documents, or attempt a clean install, just installing Windows 10 as if it were a new machine.
A clean install is by far the better option from a technical perspective, but you will require installation disks or files for other software you want to reinstall, such as the Microsoft Office suite or Photoshop, and you will also need to back all of your personal data up onto an external hard disk drive or into the cloud.
This can all be very complicated for someone who is inexperienced in such matters, so remember there's no shame in dialling Need A Nerd for help!
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