Microsoft will unveil Windows 10 on July 29 and deliver it via Windows Update to millions of computer systems who opted in to upgrade to the new operating system from Windows 7 or Windows 8.
While a release is less than a week away, some questions about Windows 10 have not been answered yet.
This short FAQ about Windows 10 is about questions that we know the (official) answers for. That does not make them less important but it could be that you know the answer to one or multiple of the questions already.
Before we start, I'd like to encourage you to ask additional questions in the comment section below so that we all can answer them and clear any confusion that may still exist this way.
1. Is Windows 10 really free
The rumor that Windows 10 is not really free, at least for systems eligible to upgrade to it for free, won't die. Microsoft could have avoided it completely by wording the Windows 10 is free for users upgrading from existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 systems more carefully.
In short, yes Windows 10 is free for users who upgrade a licensed version of Windows 7 or Windows 8 in the first year of release of the new operating system.
Microsoft won't charge afterwards and will not force a subscription-based service on users who upgrade to Windows 10.
2. What happens to the previous license?
If you upgrade from an existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 system, what happens to the license after the upgrade?
Systems can be downgraded to an earlier version of Windows up to 30 days after the upgrade has been run.
Microsoft converts existing Windows 7 and 8 licenses to Windows 10 during the upgrade process. Users who downgrade in the first 30 days will have their licenses converted back to the previous license.
Basically, the license for the earlier version of Windows is converted to a Windows 10 license by Microsoft during the upgrade.
3. What's the benefit of reserving the upgrade?
Upgrades to Windows 10 can be reserved on systems running eligible copies of Windows 7 or 8. The only thing that reserving does is preload some operating system files before July 29, 2015.
The company would have to provide a massive amount of bandwidth if all systems were to be upgraded on a single day. To avoid this, reservations are used to spread the distribution to multiple days.
Users benefit from this as they won't experience slow download speeds.
A reservation is not required to accept the free upgrade offer. In fact, most experts suggest to wait with the upgrade until the dust settles to avoid issues that may come to light during the first weeks or months of availability.
4. Will all programs, games and apps run on Windows 10?
This cannot be answered with a simple yes or no. Generally speaking, if something ran on Windows 8, it is likely also running on Windows 10.
The vast majority of apps, games and programs will run just fine on Windows 10.
Users who run the "Get Windows 10" offer on their computer will be informed about incompatibilities by the application.
According to Microsoft, programs and files remain available after the upgrade to Windows 10.
5. Are features or programs removed in Windows 10 that earlier versions supported?
Yes, that is unfortunately the case. Microsoft abandoned Windows Media Center and won't ship it in Windows 10. In addition to that, users won't be able to play DVDs natively as third-party software, VLC Media Player for instance, is required to add the functionality back.
Other features that are not available include:
- Desktop gadgets are not supported (they were in Windows 7).
- Games may be removed or offered as applications instead.
6. What about clean installs?
There are two main questions that users who plan to upgrade to Windows 10 may have in regards to clean installs. First, can they do a clean install after they have upgraded, and second, can they do that even during the process?
According to Gabriel Aul, users who have accepted the upgrade offer may reinstall Windows 10 on the same device at any time.
The official Windows 10 FAQ provides the following information that clarify this further:
Can I reinstall Windows 10 on my computer after upgrading?
Yes. Once you’ve upgraded to Windows 10 using the free upgrade offer, you will be able to reinstall, including a clean install, on the same device. You won’t need to purchase Windows 10 or go back to your prior version of Windows and upgrade again.
You’ll also be able to create your own installation media like a USB drive or DVD, and use that to upgrade your device or reinstall after you’ve upgraded.
It is interesting to note that this works for upgrading a 32-bit system to a 64-bit version of Windows 10 as well. As Microsoft notes, users need to run the upgrade from the 32-bit old version of Windows to Windows 10 first, and then use a clean install to install a 64-bit version of the operating system.
7. Which editions of Windows 10 are available?
End users get access to the two desktop editions Home and Pro. If you upgrade to Windows 10 from an earlier version, the edition you get depends on the earlier version's edition.
Generally speaking, all Starter, Home and Basic editions of Windows 7 and 8 are upgraded to Windows 10 Home, while all Pro and Ultimate editions are upgraded to Windows 10 Pro.
There are major differences between Home and Pro systems, but the most important ones are the following:
- As Microsoft notes on the specifications page, Windows 10 Home "users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available". What this means is that updates are mandatory on those systems, while Pro users have eight months that they can delay updates for.
- Home systems don't support BitLocker or Group Policy Management, as well as several other (mostly business) related features such as Remote Desktop, Domain Join or Enterprise Mode.
8. What are the core new features of Windows 10?
Windows 10 ships with several new features and changes. Here is a short selection of important features or changes:
- The operating system uses a regular Start Menu that combines the functionality of Windows 7 with the start screen of Windows 8. It features live tiles (which you can remove).
- Cortana, the personal voice-controlled assistant is integrated in Windows 10.
- DirectX 12 will be a Windows 10 exclusive
- Microsoft Edge, the company's new web browser, will be Windows 10 exclusive and the default browser on the system.
- Biometric support (Windows Hello) for authentication.
- Virtual desktop support.
- New notification center.
- Improved command prompt.
Now You: Have other questions? Post them in the comments below.