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Eager to check out the next iteration of Windows? Here’s all you need to know to upgrade to Windows 10 directly from Windows 7 or 8.1 and start getting to grips with the future of Windows.

Ever since it was officially unveiled last year, Windows 10 has been an intriguing prospect for PC users. Given that Microsoft is set to make the upgrade free for its first year of availability, it certainly seems that the company is looking to encourage people to upgrade in any way that they can.

To that end, Microsoft has made it as easy as possible for users to get started with Windows 10. Using Windows Update, it’s trivially simple to get on board with the future of Windows. Here’s everything you need to know about that process, as well as a guide to some of the major features of Windows 10 that you’ll want to check out for yourself.

Before You Upgrade

While Windows 10 is still in the testing phase, it’s worth taking a moment before you install the Technical Preview to consider the risks of using any kind of pre-release software — particularly a new operating system. This shouldn’t necessarily scare you off, it’s just important to be clear on what the Technical Preview is and isn’t Why The Windows 10 Technical Preview Should Not Be Your Main OS Why The Windows 10 Technical Preview Should Not Be Your Main OS If you think Windows 10 is a keylogger, you know nothing about the purpose of a Technical Preview. That's OK because we're here to explain. Read More . There’ll be bugs, it might not work exactly as you expect, and your usage will be monitored so that Microsoft can continue to refine the software ahead of its official release. For those reasons, it’s recommended that you don’t install the Technical Preview on your primary computer.

Updating to Windows 10

While there’s more than one way to install Windows 10 on your computer, the easiest method is to use Windows Update. The installation will preserve all your personal files and installed programs. However, there’s a little bit of groundwork to lay before you can take this route. First, take a moment to look over the system requirements for Windows 10 and confirm that your computer will be able to handle it.

Afterwards, you need to sign up for the Windows Insider program on the Microsoft website. This is a very minor procedure, and if you already have a Microsoft account, it’ll only take a few clicks. Once you’ve done that, you’re ready to start the update; visit the Technical Preview page on Microsoft’s website and click Start upgrade now to begin the process.

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install

The site will begin downloading the necessary files to prepare your upgrade — launch the executable once it’s downloaded, and it will install those files. Afterwards, you’ll probably be prompted to restart your computer before the final stage of the process can begin. Once that’s done, open up Windows Update and you should see something similar to the above screenshot.

This is your last chance to back out, so be sure that you definitely want to upgrade to Windows 10. If so, click Install and you’ll be taken through the update process just the same as with any new version of the OS.

The installation can take some time, even upwards of an hour, so don’t worry if it seems to be a slow process. Once it’s complete, you’ll have the opportunity to fine-tune some settings to suit your tastes, or simply use the express settings to speed up the process.

setup

When that’s done, you should be up and running with a complete install of the Windows 10.

What Next?

With Windows 10 freshly installed on your computer, it’s time to test out some of the new features that Windows 10 will offer in its full release. Many of these new pieces of functionality are at their best when they’re in use on a touch-enabled or two-in-one device, but even if you’re using a conventional desktop PC, there are things for you to try out.

Changes to the Desktop

Depending on what version of Windows you upgraded from, you’ll see different changes to the Desktop; for instance, Windows 8 users will find that it’s now the first thing to fill your screen as you power on, rather than the Start Screen. This has booting to desktop 10 Windows 8 Start Screen Hacks 10 Windows 8 Start Screen Hacks Windows is moving towards a more locked-down direction with Windows 8 and its Start screen and "Modern" app environment. There's no denying this -- you can't even set a custom Start screen background without installing... Read More  has been a popular tweak, but it was formerly a customization that individuals would have to implement for themselves — now, it seems that Microsoft is following the wisdom of their users.

startmenu

However, that’s not the only change that’s been made. The Start Screen has been absorbed into the Start Menu, retaining the same tile-based interface, but being made more easy to access from within the Desktop environment. There’s also a search bar in the Taskbar by default, which can either search your computer or use Bing to search the Internet.

Universal Apps

It seems that what was once referred to as Modern apps is being rebranded as Universal apps, in light of Microsoft’s push to offer software that offers a comparable experience regardless of what device you’re using. An early preview of the touch-enabled version of Microsoft’s Office suite Microsoft Office Leaps Into a New Era with Touch First Apps & New Desktop Suite Microsoft Office Leaps Into a New Era with Touch First Apps & New Desktop Suite Office has been the gold standard for office suites for a very long time. Microsoft is working hard to keep it that way as it's expanding to new platforms and technology. Read More  is currently available for users running the Technical Preview to download and test out, with the core lineup of Word, Excel and PowerPoint all included.

desktop-app

Apps in general have undergone quite a sizeable change, too; you can now launch them to the Desktop as a window of their own. This is one of many tweaks in Windows 10 that aim to integrate the Modern interface into the traditional Desktop, rather than previous attempts to keep the two separate from one another.

Task View & More

There are plenty of new features and tweaks Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview Windows 10 In Pictures - A Guided Tour Of The Technical Preview The Windows 10 Technical Preview is now available to everyone. Some bugs aside, it does look promising. We'll guide you through the new Windows one screenshot at a time. Read More to take in following your update to Windows 10 — but if things get too overwhelming, you can always turn to Task View to help simplify things.

taskview

This new feature allows users to take stock of all the programs that they have running, and separate them out into different Desktops to perform different tasks. Mac users will perhaps recognize this sort of functionality from OS X’s Mission Control, and it’s certainly a handy tool to have at your disposal.

Between the all-new features and the tweaks to existing functionality, it seems that the future of Windows Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More  is very bright indeed. Microsoft will be taking on board user feedback from the Technical Preview to refine the full release, so if you’re keen to play a part in the way that Windows 10 is shaping up, there’s not time like the present to get started.

Have you taken the plunge and updated to the Windows 10? Share your tips for the new OS, as well as any advice on the update process itself in the comments section below.

  1. Sean
    April 28, 2016 at 3:30 am

    Great article. I installed Windows 7 Pro and then popped this page open and had Windows 10 in an hour.

    Thanks.

  2. rameesh wayanad
    July 31, 2015 at 6:21 am

    any back up required for the personnel documents. please advise

  3. Richard Timbo
    July 30, 2015 at 4:55 pm

    If you don't want to wait for an update to be downloaded, follow this link: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10

    It will allow you to manually upgrade to Windows 10. You can upgrade immediately, or download for usb or ISO. Home Premium and Professional versions of 32 bit, 64 bit or both. I now have usb drives for all versions and iso's. I am able to manually update to Windows 10 now. One word of caution, you will need to treat it as an upgrade. Your Windows 8/8.1 product key does not work for Windows 10. If it is already activated, Windows 10 will be activated, if not then the Windows 10 Activation will tell you that your product key is invalid. I know this because when I updated to windows 10, I backed up all my data and formatted the hard drive. I ended up reinstalling windows 8.1 then upgrading to Windows 10.

  4. Steven L. Roberts
    July 29, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    I had signed up for the windows insider program but left it before downloading or installing any files. I went ahead and installed the "Get Windows 10" icon several weeks ago. This morning, out of curiosity, I right-clicked the icon and went to windows update. I found 1 video driver and 8 or 9 windows update files under optional updates. I installed then all and rebooted as instructed, then went back to the windows 10 icon and back to windows update. There waiting for me was the windows 10 is ready to install message. If you want windows 10 today, try updating windows.

  5. PETER EVANS
    June 9, 2015 at 6:08 pm

    i didnt get it in my windows update but i did get it in my icon bit at the bottom of the computer so i reserved it for full download when it goes into final realease as i have windows 7 not sure i got 3gb of space im hoping i dont lose any of my sign in apps i have and email ad

  6. john
    March 13, 2015 at 9:46 pm

    i havent gotten the windows 10 upgrade thing on my windows 7 yet in windows update im siting here wondering when this is going to happen its already march.... i want to play with thing already.

  7. Jim Hamm
    March 12, 2015 at 4:46 pm

    I'm tempted to try Win 10 also. If I try it on my ThinkPad running Win 8, does it replace 8 and I no longer have it? I presume the answer is yes, but thought I'd ask.

  8. Parameswar
    March 12, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Windows 10 is going to be free for testers.. They already said so.. BTW this post says that windows 8 had start to start screen and that start to desktop was to be done through third party apps but they already made it available in windows 8.1 update 1... Just change it in taskbar properties

  9. rich m
    March 12, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I tried this with Windows 8 from Vista and after a while, they take it away, so you have to buy Win 10. If you're testing for Microsoft, you'd think it would continue for free. Nope.

    • Eric G
      March 12, 2015 at 12:56 pm

      Buy it? It hasn't been commercially released yet. What exactly is there to buy? It's free now for the Windows 10 Technical Preview and, according to Microsoft, going to be free for a large number of Windows 7 and 8 users when released as a final product later this year.

    • Tina
      March 12, 2015 at 2:33 pm

      Windows 10 has been announced to be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users. They won't take it away, but if you upgrade to the Technical Preview (TP) now, you will have to upgrade again several times until the final release is out. That's the nature of the TP. However, Microsoft won't take Windows 10 away from you, if you're upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.

  10. Caroline W
    March 11, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    I'm really tempted, very tempted! There seems to be some real cool features in Win 10. I'm gonna play cautious and wait for the finished product, though, this is a very pulling invitation!

  11. Joe
    March 11, 2015 at 6:38 pm

    Do you know if the requirements of 16gb of free space, means you need 16GB of free space on top of your current windows 7/8 installation? I do have the space, but only on my second hard drive...

  12. Doc
    March 11, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    "...keep all your installed programs and settings in tact."
    In this case, "in tact" (in sensitivity? in consideration?) makes no sense; the word you're wanting is "intact," one word without the space.

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