It has been a long time coming. After months of speculation, many, many opaquely titled Insider builds, highs and lows, Windows 10 is finally (almost) here. Tomorrow is when the big release takes place, and where Microsoft will draw the mark from which all of its future product development takes place.
Designed with users in mind, more than almost any other Windows release in Microsoft's extensive history, Windows 10 is intended to be the epitome of an easy transition. Tomorrow will be the day that many will take the plunge, having reserved their copy, and install the new operating system. And yet, there are leagues more who have not even heard of the announcement, let alone how to change their operating system.
That is something that this guide will hopefully do something to alleviate, this is for those of you (relatively) like myself: a 'normal'. So let's dive in!
1) What is Windows 10?
Windows 10 is the newest version of Microsoft's operating system. It comes with lots of new functionality that will bring it up to speed with 2015, while also maintaining and even restoring a number of older features, like the Start Menu, that have been much missed.
2) Where can I get it, and what does it cost?
As many of you might know, Microsoft typically charges in the region of £100/$119 for a new version of Windows. This time, things are a little different. Over the past few years, as the different versions of Windows have begun to build up, Redmond has faced the problem of catering to many different versions. This makes it difficult both to sell new PCs, and also to turn a profit. As such, for the first year of Windows 10 being available to the public, it will be available as a free upgrade for those running either Windows 7 or 8 on their home computers. After this, and for those currently without a PC with either Windows 7 or 8 installed, Windows 10 will be available for purchase or download from around £99/$119.
3) How can I best prepare my PC for the upgrade?
If you are running a copy of Windows 7 or 8 on your PC, and you regularly update, then you are in luck. Since the beginning of June, beside the Volume controls and various other settings on the task bar at the bottom of the screen, a new icon ought to have appeared, titled "Get Windows 10". Starting this, and running through its features, ought to prepare your PC should you wish to make the upgrade. This, in effect, will place a reservation for the download of your new software.
4) Will installing Windows 10 affect my files?
Luckily, the installation of Windows 10 is also prepared for the average user, that is to say it is mostly fuss-free. Many different OS installations require the complete memory wipe of the hardware they are being installed to, Windows 10 is not like this. Instead, the installation files will download quietly in the background, and then when prompted to upgrade, they will slowly overwrite only the core files in the Windows system, meaning that all of your music etc, will be unaffected.
As for performance, given that the required specifications for running Windows 10 are quite low, it is likely to run as cleanly as older versions have done
5) Should I wait before installing?
As with any software launch, things begin perfectly. Although Windows 10 has been in testing for many months now, there are still a number of bugs and problems that will be ironed out as the months go by. Even now, a 1GB patch will be applied by Microsoft upon the installation of Windows 10 to help sort out a number of issues that have been reported. As ever on the internet, exercise caution, as you have a whole year in which to upgrade, for free.
Hopefully, with that, things are now a little clearer. If you are new, and have any other questions regarding Windows 10, myself and the rest of the lovely team here at WinBeta will be happy to answer them in the comments below.