5 Free Ways to Try and Evaluate Windows 10, No Strings Attached

Tina Sieber 04-05-2016

In a few weeks, the free upgrade to Windows 10 Is It Time to Upgrade to Windows 10, Yet? Microsoft really wants to you upgrade to Windows 10. But should you? To help you make up your mind, we argue both the pro and the contra, and offer careful advice. How will you decide? Read More will expire. Are you torn whether or not you should take the leap? If you’ve been resisting the friendly upgrade reminders Microsoft Strikes Again - How to NOT Upgrade to Windows 10 Windows 10 is now a recommended update on Windows 7 and 8.1 computers. If you're not yet ready to upgrade, it's time to double-check your Windows Update settings. We show you how. Read More because you’re wary of what’s expecting you, let us show you how you can try Windows 10 with (almost) no risk or commitment.


1. Install Windows 10 on a Virtual Machine

A virtual machine is a piece of software that emulates computer hardware. This fictitious hardware allows you to install an operating system like Windows 10 inside another operating system like Windows 7 or OS X. The beauty of this method is that it works with any hardware that supports Windows 10, even on a Linux or Mac PC.

Minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10:

Processor: 1+ GHz
RAM: 1+ GB (32-bit) or 2+ GB (64-bit)
Free disk space: 16+ GB
Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

To set up a virtual machine, you need to download a Windows 10 ISO file How to Download Official Windows ISO Files Free from Microsoft You can download Windows installation files free from Microsoft. We'll show you a hack that allows you to download ISO files for any edition of Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 from Microsoft's Tech... Read More and virtual machine software like VirtualBox. Once ready, follow our instructions to run Windows 10 in VirtualBox on Linux How To Try Windows 10 If You're Running Linux Love Linux, but still depend on Windows occasionally? The Windows 10 TP is a stable test system. We show you how you can try Windows for free as a dual boot or on a virtual... Read More , OS X How To Try Windows 10 On Your Mac Free & Easy Even as a Mac user you might need Windows from time to time, be it at work or a public computer. Here's a chance to familiarize yourself with Windows 10 for free. Read More , or Windows Try Out Windows 8 In VirtualBox Right Now For Free Are you curious about Windows 8, the upcoming operating system from Microsoft? Try it out in a virtual machine, right now, for free. All you need to do is download the free ISO file and... Read More (explained based on Windows 8).


The drawback of a virtual machine Testing A New Operating System? Stay Secure With A Virtual Machine Read More is that the experience can be slow and buggy, unless you enjoy tinkering with settings or can commit a lot of system resources to the virtual Windows 10 setup. Even if your virtual machine runs smoothly, you won’t have access to all features of the operating system (OS).


On the other hand, the risk factor is almost zero. Windows 10 is sand-boxed within the virtual machine and won’t affect your current setup. It’s safe and convenient.

2. Visit Your Favorite Electronics Store

Meanwhile, every respectable electronics store will have computers running Windows 10 on display. If you don’t want to mess with your running system, this is a great hands-on alternative to give Windows 10 a spin.


Don’t get distracted by the wonderful hardware on display! Find a machine that most closely represents your own computer and focus on playing with Windows 10. You can strategically prepare yourself by making a list of Windows tools you use a lot, functionality you depend on, or new features you’re dying to try. Here’s a brief list for inspiration:



The advantage of this approach is that you can gain hands-on Windows 10 experience with absolutely no strings attached. On the flip-side, you probably won’t be able to log into the computer with your own Microsoft account or make significant changes to the default setup. Your hands might also be tied by a limited user account.

3. Watch Online Windows 10 Demos

With less than 3 months to go to convert eligible users — over 60% of the desktop OS market — to the latest Windows version for free, Microsoft has compiled an online resource with Windows 10 demonstration videos. According to the URL it’s an emulator, but the truth is that you can’t do much yourself.

The page hosts a collection of videos demonstrating selected Windows 10 features on 11 general topics, including work across devices, stay organized, or browse the web. Choose your desired Windows 10 platform — PC, tablet, or phone — and a topic, for example Meet Cortana, followed by a feature you’re curious about, let’s say work hands-free, and the respective demo video will start to play.


Windows 10 Demo

This is another zero risk option, but it’s also very superficial. You won’t be able to explore Windows 10, discover unexpected features, or uncover problems. Obviously, the videos present an ideal case. In real Windows, things go wrong, applications reveal bugs, and features you’ve become used to may be missing 5 Lost Features You Can Resurrect in Windows 10 Windows 10 is quite different and chances are you're missing a few familiar features. Did you lose Windows Media Center, DVD support, or classic games during the upgrade? We may have a solution for you! Read More .

4. Dual Boot Windows 10

This is the closest you can get to upgrading, without actually letting go of your existing installation. A dual boot gives you the full Windows 10 experience on your own hardware. And on a Windows or Mac machine, it’s easy to set up.

The advantage of this over all the previous options is that a dual boot offers you a full-fledged setup. You can customize Windows 10, install your own software, use your own accounts, and get a truly immersive experience, without performance restrictions. If you have enough disk space, this is the route you should take to test Windows 10, even though it requires a little more effort.


For a dual boot you need two things:

On a Windows machine, install Windows 10 on the dedicated partition, and the Windows setup will automatically take care of dual boot settings Not Sure About Upgrading? Then Why Not Dual Boot Windows 8 With Windows 7? Are you interested in Windows 8, but don’t want to abandon Windows 7 just yet? Well, why not dual-boot Windows 8 and Windows 7, selecting the operating system you want to use each time you... Read More .

VirtualBox Windows Setup

On your Mac use Boot Camp to set up the dual boot How To Try Out Windows 8 On Your MacBook Air If you're reading this article, you're probably a user of Mac OS X, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't be intrigued. If Windows 8 has captured your interest, why not take it for a test... Read More . On Linux, follow this guide to dual boot Windows 10 How To Try Windows 10 If You're Running Linux Love Linux, but still depend on Windows occasionally? The Windows 10 TP is a stable test system. We show you how you can try Windows for free as a dual boot or on a virtual... Read More , but note that it’s complex!

If you can get this to run, a dual boot has almost no drawbacks, other than taking up space and time to set up. If your current Windows machine comes with an UEFI BIOS, it should even activate automatically. Otherwise, you might have to enter a valid Windows 7 or 8.1 product key to activate Windows 10 The Ultimate Windows 10 Activation & License FAQ One of the big confusions surrounding Windows 10 concerns its licensing and activation. This FAQ will shed some light, explain what has changed with Windows 10 version 1511 (Fall Update), and translate activation-related error codes. Read More .

You might end up enjoying Windows 10 so much that you’ll want to migrate all your files and settings How to Upgrade to Windows 10 & Take Settings and Apps with You Windows 10 is coming and you have a choice to make. Either you upgrade your existing Windows installation, or you can install Windows 10 from scratch. We show you how to migrate to Windows 10... Read More and never boot into your old OS again.

5. Upgrade with a Rollback Option

You won’t know whether you truly like Windows 10 until you’ve tried to upgrade. An upgrade will immediately reveal which of your software and hardware is really compatible with Windows 10, you won’t lose any of your files, and you get the full experience without wasting space for a dual boot.

The big risk, of course, is that you won’t like Windows 10, that something breaks, or that you have to go back for a different reason. That can be difficult, unless you are prepared. You have two convenient options to downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 How to Downgrade from Windows 10 to Windows 7 or 8.1 Windows 10 is here and maybe it's not what you expected. If you already upgraded, you can perform a rollback. And if you haven't yet, create a system backup first. We show you how. Read More :

  1. Use the built-in downgrade option under Settings > Update & security > Recovery. You can “go back” for 31 days or until you upgrade Windows 10 to a new version, whichever comes first.

windows 10 recovery

If you have upgraded and neither of those options are available, you can still re-install your preferred OS. Here’s how to download Windows installation files How to Legally Download Windows Installation Files for Free Windows can get seriously broken. What you often need to do is to install it from scratch. And we show you how to get legal installation files for Windows 7 through 10. Read More .

Make Up Your Mind About Windows 10 NOW

If you have the option to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, you’ll have to make up your mind soon. We hope that the options above will help you. Should you decide against the upgrade, know that you can get Windows 10 features on older Windows versions Get the Best Windows 10 Features on Windows 7 and 8 Do you admire some of the tricks Windows 10 can do, but would rather stay with your old Windows version? We have compiled 8 tools that can bring the best Windows 10 features to your... Read More , too.

What is tempting you to upgrade to Windows 10? Or what make you want to stay with Windows 7? Is anyone seriously stuck on Windows 8.1? Let’s hear your perspective in the comments!

Related topics: Disk Image, Dual Boot, VirtualBox, Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, Windows Upgrade.

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  1. Anonymous
    May 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm

    well, you can only love an app like that

    even it's name is cool :D
    it stops the annoying windows 10 update notification

  2. Lou
    May 4, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    "Is anyone seriously stuck on Windows 8.1?"

    I am not "stuck" on it. I like it, seriously. I got used to it when it came out, and I wouldn't go back to Windows 7 or upgrade to 10. I don't need an OS using all possible tricks at hand to spy on me, or make decisions for me with the next update.

    Call me crazy, but I will stay on Windows 8.1 for as long as possible.

    • JJ
      May 5, 2016 at 6:58 am

      Agree completely.