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Get your free Windows 10
August 4, 2015, 12:03 pm

Windows 10, which launched globally on 29 July, is Microsoft’s attempt to create a multi-platform software which works seamlessly across different digital environments, including desktops, laptops, tablets, smartphones and wearable gear.

Launching Windows 10 on Wednesday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, "Windows 10 is a huge milestone for us as a company, and quite frankly the industry." Until now, Microsoft has released a new version of Windows every few years.  From Windows 10, Microsoft intends to only gradually update the software for free over months and years.

If you wish to try out Microsoft’s latest operating system (OS) the Windows 10 by updating from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, then the good news is that the process is surprisingly painless and, more importantly, totally free. However, the bad news is that you may not be able to update it immediately.

If you already own a computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and your version of Windows is as up to date as it can be, you will see that a Windows icon has appeared in right corner of your task bar at the bottom. Clicking on the new icon will open up the Get Windows 10 app, which allows you to sign up to download the new OS and determine if your computer is compatible. Enter your email address into the system, and from there on you are pretty much set. Now you just have to wait.

Chances are good that you will not actually be able to download and install Windows 10 immediately. Microsoft is rolling the OS out slowly to make sure that it has time to clean up any bugs that it discovers, so you may end up waiting weeks or more before you are given the go ahead to install it. Once you are, Microsoft will download Windows 10 to your computer and then notify you with a pop up that it is ready to install.

If you do not see an icon for the Get Windows 10 app in your task bar, then there is a good chance you need to take care of some other updates first. If you are running Windows 7, make sure that you have updated all the way to Service Pack 1. To do that, go to the Start menu and search for Windows Update. If you are running Windows 8, you will have to bump it up to 8.1. To do that, click the Store tile on the Start screen; inside the store, you should see an icon for the update.

Once you are on the latest version of either operation system, the Get Windows 10 app should be available, and you will be able to grab the free update.

If you are running Windows Vista or XP, then you will have to pay to update to Windows 10. It costs US$119 for Windows 10 Home and $199 for Windows 10 Pro. Alternatively, you can buy a new laptop with Windows 7 or 8.1 pre-installed for roughly the same price. Also, if you are currently on Windows RT, there is some bad news: you have been stranded. Windows RT machines are not being updated to Windows 10. Microsoft is promising some kind of update in September, but it has not said what to expect just yet.

However, it is not just the operating system that needs to be taken into consideration, the system configuration also matters. Windows 10 has the same system requirements as Windows 7 and 8, but those requirements are still substantially higher than those for earlier versions of the OS. Make sure that your computer meets these minimum requirements before updating:

Processor: 1GHz / RAM: 1GB for 32-bit or 2GB for 64-bit / Storage: 16GB for 32-bit or 20GB for 64-bit / Graphics support: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver / Display: 800 x 600 resolution

Now that you have confirmed that your system is eligible for the update, here is what you will have to do to install Windows 10 when it becomes available on your computer.

Begin by backing up your computer. If you can, make sure that all of your most important files are saved outside of your PC. More than likely you are not going to need this, but it is better to have it in the event that something goes wrong.

Then click on the install Windows 10 button and that is it. Depending on how new your computer is, it could take anywhere from 20 minutes to an hour or longer to install the new OS. During this time there is not much for you to do aside from clicking ‘Next’ a few times.

Eventually, the Windows 10 installer will ask you to configure some settings. It will offer you the option to customize the settings or to choose what Microsoft calls ‘express settings’. We would recommend clicking customize — it will not take more than a couple minutes longer, and there are some options that you may want to change. That includes how Windows handles location privacy, ad tracking, browser settings, and whether or not your computer automatically connects to open hotspots.

Once you are through that, the installer will finish setting things up and bring you to the desktop. From there, you are very nearly good to go. You will want to run Windows Update one final time to make sure that you are not missing any recent updates or drivers specific to your computer. And that is it — once you are sure everything is up to date, you are good to go with the spanking new world of Windows 10. 

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