Windows 10: Just the basics you need to know.
If you want to know about Windows 10, just search Google or Bing for it. There are thousands of pages out there on the interwebs to tell you everything you could possibly want or need to know.
I’ve decided to bypass duplicating all that content for a short post that gives you just the important things you really need to know now.
When will I get Windows 10? What will it cost?
- If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free until July 28, 2016.
- If you have been keeping your updates current, and are on one of the above listed Windows, you should have already received a notification to reserve your copy. If you selected to get it, then you’re already in the queue. Users of Home and Pro versions will start receiving it at Midnight Eastern Time, July 29th. Microsoft will push it out in waves, though, so it may take a few days before you actually get it.
- For Education and Enterprise editions of Windows, it becomes available a few days later, August 1st. It will still be free for these editions under your already existing Volume Licensing Agreement.
How will it install? Do I need to reformat?
- Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows 10 is designed as a straight upgrade. No need to reformat or install fresh.
Should I go ahead and get it as soon as my computer tells me it’s ready?
- If you are a home user, or a single person business user, sure – probably. Unless you have some unusual hardware, there shouldn’t be any issue; but if you know you have some specific, unusual hardware, you should check for driver compatibility.
- If you are a user on a business network with others, then don’t install it if given the opportunity. Refer to your normal IT procedures. That may mean asking your IT department (they should have probably already notified you how your business is addressing this), or checking with your IT service provider. If your business has a managed services contract, then the IT provider should have also already notified you regarding how your business will address Windows 10.
I’m running Windows 7, but it’s an older computer. I’m worried it won’t work as well with a new operating system.
- The minimum system requirements for Windows 10 are a 1Ghz 32 or 64 bit processor; 1Gb of RAM, and 16Gb of available hard drive space. Guess what? Those were the same original minimum specs for Windows 7! Since Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to be portable across devices including tablets, they have really concentrated on efficiency. The bottom line is that if your computer is currently running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, it can probably run Windows 10 just fine.
After I get Windows 10 installed for free, what happens if I have to reinstall my computer from factory default?
- Windows 10 will provide a method to create a DVD or USB that you can use to reinstall. And yes, if it’s the same device, that will still be a free and genuine copy of Windows 10.
I received my notice about Windows 10 and reserved my copy. Anything else I need to do?
- Well, even though you’re already backing your computer up (right?), it certainly wouldn’t hurt to make an additional backup, maybe an image backup, just in case. It’s highly unlikely anything will go wrong during the upgrade, but just in case.
- Do you still have any data that you store on floppy disks? (Really?) Well, time’s up. Copy anything of floppy disks that you might still need—maybe old data archives or something—off to a USB flash drive, or cloud storage. Windows 10 will finally kill off the formerly ubiquitous floppy drive. Windows 10 won’t support floppy disks. (Depending on device, you may still be able to get a driver for a USB floppy; but really, just get rid of them!)
So that pretty much covers the critical information you need for the next few days. But you may be wondering what’s the big deal about Windows 10? Well, here is a short list of some of the changes and new features.
The Start Menu is back!
- Probably the single biggest complaint Microsoft received about Windows 8 was the missing Start menu. Around since Windows 95, users were just too accustomed to having it around. So Microsoft brought it back in Windows 8.1, and now they’ve improved it. Similar to the Windows 7 Start menu, when you open it, it will have two portions, but they are more functional. On the left, you can have most used apps, recently added apps, and also you add links to folders. The right side will now be Live Tiles, which were introduced in Windows 8. There are a lot of new customization options for the Start menu, including a full screen option.
- The search bar in the Start Menu also integrates Cortana (see below.)
Goodbye Internet Explorer, hello Edge
- The internet browser in Windows 10 is called Edge. It’s a completely new, standards compliant browser.
- Like other browsers such as Chrome and Firefox, Edge focuses more on modern technologies that backwards compatibility. Edge will forego the legacy support that bogged down IE. Edge has no support for ActiveX, Browser Helper Objects, VBScript, or 3rd party toolbars built for IE11. This is a good thing: all of those hindered performance, and more importantly, caused the majority of issues with malware and viruses. This is a major improvement in both performance and security.
- Edge tightly integrated with both Bing (Microsoft’s search engine) and Cortana (see below.)
Siri, meet Cortana.
- Cortana is Microsoft’s new digital assistant, a la’ Apple’s Siri and Google’s Google Now. Like Siri, Cortana is a “she” apparently. Since most people reading this will already be familiar with the capabilities of these digital assistants I’ll not go into all of that; but just mention that Microsoft has really integrated Cortana into the operation of Windows 10. It’s integrated into the desktop search, local search, Start Menu, and Edge. And of course, uses Bing as it’s source.
- Desktops: if you’ve ever used a Mac OS and wished you could have the multiple desktops on Windows (without installing some type of additional software) then this is for you. You can created multiple desktops for different tasks or sessions, locations, moods or whatever, and switch between them seamlessly.
- File Explorer
- Integrates Microsoft’s OneDrive cloud storage service so that accessing and moving files back and forth between local and cloud storage is similar to just working with different local drives.
- Libraries are on the way out. They aren’t displayed by default, but they can be turned on, and they can also be added to a new feature called….
- Quick Access: I guess Quick Access isn’t so much new as it is an expansion of the Favorites area, which it replaces. It has all the same features but also adds dynamic views of recently used files and folders.
There are a lot more new features, and some updates and makeovers of existing items; I was trying to keep this short and just cover the basics, so I won’t try to cover everything, but I hope this helps with any last minute questions you may have had.
And remember, if your business is needing guidance regarding this or any IT need or process, contact WJP Enterprises for help. We’ve been helping businesses through OS migrations for over 21 years; we have the knowledge and experience to help yours.