Windows 10: what you need to know before you upgrade

Martin Brinkmann
Jun 2, 2015
Updated • Jul 5, 2017
Windows, Windows 10

Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system will be released July 29, 2015 for PC and tablets. The operating system will be provided as a free upgrade to the majority of existing Windows systems but also available through retail channels, for instance as system builder editions or pre-installed on devices.

This guide provides you with an overview of information about the upgrade to Windows 10. It is as comprehensive as possible and will provide you with all information needed in regards to the upgrade.

It covers system requirements as well as additional requirements that some Windows 10 features have, features that Microsoft removed from Windows 10, information about the upgrade path, eligible systems for the free upgrade and the price of the system if you purchase it through retail channels.

windows 10 latest information

Upgrade Path and information

The upgrade to Windows 10 is free if certain conditions are met:

Systems running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 may be upgraded for free to Windows 10 if the installed copies of Windows are genuine.

  1. Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 8.1 editions are upgraded to Windows 10 Home.
  2. Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 8.1 Pro are upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
  3. Enterprise editions as well as Windows RT systems are not eligible.

Windows 10 testers who joined the Insider program and are running pre-release versions of the operating system will receive the upgrade to Windows 10 RTM (final) on July 29th. It is unclear at this point in time if testers will receive a free license of the operating system.  It seems likely that this won't be the case though.

According to Gabe Aul, a clean install of Windows 10 on the same system the upgrade was performed on is permitted at any time.

Windows 10 Price

If you plan to purchase Windows 10, for instance to install it on a new PC or to upgrade a non-genuine version of Windows to a genuine-one, then you may be interested in the retail pricing of the operating system.

  1. Windows 10 Home will be available for $119.
  2. Windows 10 Pro is priced at $199.
  3. Upgrades from Home to Pro are available for $99.

Update: Microsoft Germany announced the price for Windows 10 Home and Pro that customers buy directly. The price of Windows 10 Home is €135 (currently 148 US Dollar) and that of Windows 10 Pro €279 (currently $305 US Dollar)

It is interesting to note that it is cheaper currently to purchase Windows 7 or Windows 8 instead to perform the free upgrade to Windows 10 in the first year than to purchase Windows 10 outright.

Amazon for instance lists system builder editions of Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and Windows 8.1 Pro 64-bit for $134 and $131 respectively so that you'd save about $60.

Please note that it means an additional step during installation as you need to install the operating system that you have bought first before you can upgrade to Windows 10. If you buy Windows 10 directly, you will save that step.

System Requirements

Microsoft revealed system requirements and specifications only for pre-release versions of Windows 10 and not for the final system. It is unlikely however that these will change before release.

Keep in mind that those are minimum requirements and that it is generally recommended to run Windows 10 on a system with better specs.

  • Processor: at least 1 GHz
  • RAM: at least 1 Gigabyte for 32-bit systems and 2 Gigabyte for 64-bit systems.
  • Hard Drive: at least 16 Gigabyte of storage for 32-bit versions and 20 Gigabyte for 64-bit versions.
  • Graphics: a video card that supports DirectX 9 at the very least with WDDM 1.0 driver support.
  • Display: at least 1024x600

If you plan to upgrade an existing version of Windows to Windows 10, you need to make sure that they have all the latest service packs and drivers installed.

For Windows 7 this means that Windows 7 Service Pack 1 needs to be installed on the machine, for Windows 8 that the update to Windows 8.1 is installed.

Additional requirements

Some features that Windows 10 ships with require additional requirements. This guide lists the most important requirements only.

  1. Cortana, the digital assistant, is only available in the following regions on launch: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.
  2. Windows Hello, an authentication system for signing in, requires a finger print reader for finger print login functionality and an infrared camera for facial recognition or iris detection.
  3. Device Guard, a new Enterprise-only feature to lock down devices for advanced malware protection that blocks anything but trusted apps, has the following requirements: UEFI Secure Boot with third-party UEFI CA removed from the UEFI database, TPM 2.0, Virtualization Support set to on, UEFI Bios configured to prevent unauthorized users from disabling Device Guard features, Kernel mode drivers signed by Microsoft and compatible with hypervisor enforced code integrity.
  4. BitLocker requires TPM 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB Flash drive.
  5. Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with SLAT capabilities and 2 GB of additional RAM.
  6. Device Encryption requires a PC with InstantGo and TPM 2.0.

Features of previous operating systems that are not available in Windows 10

Some Windows 7 and Windows 8 features are not available in Windows 10. The following section lists known deprecated features.

  1. Windows Media Center - If you are running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 with Media Center, you will notice that it is removed after the upgrade. Check out our best Windows Media Center alternatives guide for replacement options.
  2. DVD playback - The operating system won't support native DVD playback. If you require that, you need to use third-party software for that such as VLC Media Player.
  3. Desktop gadgets - Microsoft removed gadget functionality in Windows 8. Windows 7 users who upgrade to Windows 10 won't have access to the feature anymore. Several programs have been created to bring back the functionality though.
  4. Games - Some games won't be available in their current form on Windows 10. This includes Solitaire and Minesweeper, both of which are available in application form (Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper).
  5. Windows Live Essentials and OneDrive - OneDrive has been removed from Windows Live Essentials and is available as a standalone application in Windows 10.
  6. Windows Updates - The update functionality changes significantly, especially for Home users as users get less control over the update process. See Windows 10 and mandatory updates for additional information.
Windows 10: what you need to know before you upgrade
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Windows 10: what you need to know before you upgrade
The guide lists important information for users who plan to upgrade existing machines to the Windows 10 operating system.
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  1. dont wnat it said on October 5, 2015 at 9:29 pm

    me neiterh . will stick with win7 until obsolete then move on to Linux. not interested in “Win Spyware 10″… for those who don’t believe the huge security issues, you’re being naive

  2. Guest said on August 17, 2015 at 9:02 am

    Windows 10? NO THANKS.

  3. Major said on June 11, 2015 at 6:31 pm


    The “Get Windows 10” utility has been auto-installed on my Win7 Inspiron. When I check WIn10 requirements, using Belarc Advisory, I find I am lacking a few of those. One item is under graphics, I do not have WDDM 1.0 driver support. If Win10 attempts to install on 29 July and all requirements are not met, will I be able to back out of the install process in order to get back to Win7 SP1?

    Thank you,


  4. Jeff Taylor said on June 9, 2015 at 5:54 am

    @ Martin,

    In your research, have you come across any information from Microsoft indicating whether versions of Windows 7 obtained through TechNet subscriptions will be eligible for the free updates?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 9, 2015 at 8:00 am

      Jeff I have not. If I had to guess, I’d say they qualify.

      1. Jeff Taylor said on June 9, 2015 at 10:42 am

        Please let us know if you come across anything.

    2. Andrew said on June 9, 2015 at 5:57 am

      Jeff, as someone who is running Windows 8.1 via technet, I think we are safe, because it is a legitimate key. I mean, I was even able to “upgrade” my new computer that came with 8.1 home to 8.1 pro that I got via technet no problem.

      1. Jeff Taylor said on June 9, 2015 at 10:46 am

        I’m using TechNet versions myself, and have also successfully used them to update non-TechNet versions. Therefore, like you, I assume that there will be no problem upgrading them to Windows 10. However, even a sound assumption is no substitute for real info confirming that the assumption is correct. In the absence of such info, I’ll just wait and hope that you’re right

  5. bolb said on June 3, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I had a laptop with Windows Vista and upgraded to Windows 8.0 (now is 8.1) few years back when there was an offer for about $30.
    Anyone knows if i can upgrade to Windows 10 and use my paid license of Windows 8.0 to install on a new PC (and if so, can i upgrade this new PC to Windows 10?)

    1. jj said on June 5, 2015 at 12:36 pm

      Yes you can. I am currently using a Windows 8.1 upgrade version purchased for $39.00 when it was offered. Microsoft has sent me a Windows 10 reserve offer in my task bar. But I probably will wait about 6 months for the dust to settle to upgrade.

  6. Mark said on June 3, 2015 at 1:30 am

    What will the outcome be if the upgrade fails repeatedly? I experienced that situation upgrading to the newest build of the Insider Preview.

  7. boil said on June 2, 2015 at 11:51 pm

    “Cortana, the digital assistant, is only available in the following regions on launch: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.”
    Regions or languages? Big difference. I’m outside of those regions but have been running English versions of Windows for over 10 years. I talk english to Android Now daily.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 3, 2015 at 8:13 am

      Languages it is even though Microsoft mentioned regions only. If you run a US-Windows 10 for instance, you can use Cortana wherever you are.

      1. Bill Lee said on June 12, 2015 at 6:59 pm

        As a Canadian, of course I noticed that Canada isn’t mentioned under Cortana availability. We could use the UK or US versions, could we? If yes, we wouldn’t get Canadian localization, would we?

        According to Wikipedia, Cortana has been available on Windows Phone as Alpha since last year. If an app is available on Windows Phone, does this have implication for its availability on other hardware?

        Thank you for all the discussion!

  8. Jacques said on June 2, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    I have read that the refresh and restore functionality will be available in Windows 10 as it is in 8/8.1. So you can do a “clean” install this way.
    You can do this and on the first restart shut down your pc on the box and move the HDD to your new PC, boot it up and it should continue.

    1. ARCHIE said on June 6, 2015 at 9:36 am

      Most likely inaccurate. MS really means business when they tie a licence key to hardware. I recently lost activation by switching BIOS on my mobo… I consequently removed everything UEFI before reactivating.

      The worse of the matter seems to be the loss of a valid licence in the process of upgrading. I wonder if my W8 keys will be void after upgrading, leaving me stuck with merely one year worth of OS ownership. If this is the case, everyone needs to hit the brake, refrain from upgrading. The only way I will consider an upgrade is if I can fall back on my feet when something breaks or gets obsolete, by re-installing the OS I curently own.

      I was relieved when MS released a 8.1 ISO that would install and activate with a W8 upgrade key, even without previous OS detection. That was scary for a time, though. Maybe they’ll back off again and offer something similar. One cannot trust them to do it though.

      I will make sure about the old licence before I upgrade.

  9. Sputnik said on June 2, 2015 at 8:54 pm

    My OS is Windows 7 Pro OEM and its license is linked to the hardware on which it was first installed, so the fact that the free upgrade to Windows 10 will also be linked to the hardware doesn’t change anything for me or people who, like me, own an OEM version.

    What I am asking myself however is will Microsoft offer only “OEM” licenses in the future ?

    I am asking this question because Microsoft says that the Windows 10 free upgrade will be linked to the hardware without saying if this applies only to already “OEM” versions or also to “retail” versions : Microsoft doesn’t make any difference between these two kinds of licenses, at least for what concerns the free upgrade. What will it be when someone will buy a full new license of Windows 10 : will he have the choice to buy an “OEM” or a “retail” license ?

    I was asking myself another question : what will happen of my Windows 7 Pro license if I upgrade to Windows 10. Will I loose my Windows 7 license with only the right to use Windows 10 or will I be able to revert to my Windows 7 license in case of necessity ? I think that the answer to this question is found on the website for which “olidie” have supplied a link in a previous comment : within the Windows 10 version there is an option allowing you to revert back to your previous OS in case of need.

    I will surely try this new OS, but I don’t have any good feeling about it : I think that Windows XP was a better OS than all the subsequent Microsoft’s OS in that special point of view of the capacity left to the user to configure its OS as he likes. I am not saying however that XP was better than the subsequent OS for all the other aspects of an OS : particularly, these more recent OS have a better visual appearance than that of XP.

    The Windows Explorer Tree of Windows XP was very more usable than the one you get with Windows 7 : personnally I really dont like to see the inclusion of “Favorites” and “Libraries” to the Tree (pardon me if I don’t use the correct word for it beacause I own a french copy of Windows 7 and I don’t know what is the exact word in english for what is called “Bibliothèques” in french, so I use a direct translation.). Since I work with Windows 7, I have never used again this Tree.

    Also, I don’t use the possibility to pin documents or programs to the taskbar : I just hate it. I still work with the old fast launching zone just beside the Start Button : it has been removed from Windows 7 but I have found a tweak to restore it.

    I know that many people will disagree with what I am saying but I think that some will agree. The question here is not which OS, between XP and the subsequent OS, is the best in an absolute way : all here is only a matter of taste and what someone like, someone else may hate it. The question here is that Microsoft is taking away from the users some valuable tools or is adding some new tools which, sometimes, some users don’t like but are obliged to work with, without the capacity to unactivate them.

    There are some other things I don’t like very much with the new versions of Windows, but it would be too long to talk about it. I will just say that I have the feeling that Microsoft have taken the decision to build their new OS, since XP, in a way to satisfy all the people who doesn’t really know how a computer is working (in fact maybe a vast majority of computer users who just like to surf and send or receice emails). So Microsoft have put in their new OS all kinds of automatic functionalities which I find very obstrusive to the people who, like me, want to do the things by themselves.

    1. ARCHIE said on June 6, 2015 at 9:31 am

      While you are probably right to be somewhat disgrunted about MS choices with their OS since Xp, most of the things that bother you are an easy fix in W8 and probably W10 too. Libraries and favorites can be discarded with a couple of edits and, generaly, the windows explorer program behaves in very much the same way as the one in XP.

      But I see where you come from: I felt exactly the same way when Xp was released and explorer slapped these links and mandatory paths in our face. As much as I like links and junctions, I’d rather create them myself and have total control over them. Most users don’t though, and MS merely provided them with an incentive to sort their documents. The libraries (junctions) were a bit much though and probably did more harm than good, including data loss.

      By the time I came to terms with Xp, I started to use QTTABBAR (found here, I believe), which allows to group links in tabs and save “groups” configurations, making for a much powerful tool than the start menu; and cleaner too. This was still some maintenance but was clean and safe. You can get rid of the clutter in W7+ the same way, although I find the full screen shortcuts mess quite awesome in its own right.

      As for your last remark, I suppose this is the world we live in : the geek has less and less shame and there doesn’t seem to be a way around learning to know what you’re doing with digital stuff. Either learn or be subjected to the bigdata tyrannic sheme. I say it’s time everyone took matters in their own hands and stop complaining about how brutal and unfair the world is. Because it is getting worse by the week.

      Greetings from a fellow French citizen :)

  10. Dale said on June 2, 2015 at 8:31 pm

    Quit complaining. As cheap as computers are now just buy a new machine if the free upgrade bothers you so much.

    1. Frentje said on June 2, 2015 at 11:06 pm

      Nice attitude. The industry counts on people like you. Buy, buy …..

  11. Tom said on June 2, 2015 at 8:18 pm

    I was under the impression that Windows 10 was going to be free for the first year, then subscription based, requiring a yearly fee. Did that go by the wayside?

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 2, 2015 at 8:19 pm

      Windows 10 won’t be subscription-based after the free upgrade. Microsoft mentioned already that it will remain free for users who took them up on the offer.

  12. Asker said on June 2, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Microsoft is pushing for Windows 10. On the other hand MS likes to keep future users in the dark and does not come out with a very clear and clean statement about all the important and entitled questions people may have. In my opinion this is not a serious way of doing business. I certainly will not update (and lose my really not so crappy 8.1, my thanks to “Classic Start Menu”). That way I will keep some control of my machine. This is just my opinion.

  13. ilev said on June 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Windows 10 has automatic update on with no way of disabling the process, and as Microsoft may update Windows 10 every day, your PC will boot automatically each day in the middle of running some important tasks.

  14. David said on June 2, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    Is “Windows Hello”, the authentication system for signing in, mandatory? My system does not have the required hardware.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 2, 2015 at 5:07 pm

      No it is not mandatory.

  15. FleischmannTV said on June 2, 2015 at 4:35 pm

    I am not interested in an upgrade which is tied to my existing hardware.

    What really worries me is that I don’t see a discounted price for buying an upgrade.

    As of now it seems I will only have to choices: either buy Windows 10 for the full price, or upgrade for free and be forced to pay the full price later, should I decide to replace my hardware or if something breaks. That’s really awesome. When I bought my Windows 8 Pro Upgrade, I only paid 20 – 30 Euros for it and I received an actual license key, which I could use for reinstalling. Now imagine your mainboard kicks the bucket and you have to pay an additional 200 $.

    So please tell me there will be an option to actually buy a Windows 10 upgrade for a discounted price, or otherwise this so called free offer is nothing but a hidden rise in price by factor 6 – 7.

  16. Mike J said on June 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

    Some people have reported problems using an OEM version of Windows on an existing PC (as opposed to a brand-new build).

  17. Karol said on June 2, 2015 at 11:24 am

    “Systems running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 may be upgraded for free to Windows 10 if the installed copies of Windows are genuine.”

    This seems not to be true. According to Microsoft even illegal copies of Windows can be upgraded for free to Windows 10. Of course, upgrading won’t make illegal Windows legal.

    1. Frank said on June 2, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      Yes, from what Ive seen the only requirement is that its activated. Obviously MS has no way to know if its genuine or not.

  18. na said on June 2, 2015 at 10:12 am

    I wonder if there is a way to save the lic file si a clean install can be possible?

    Microsoft do things right. Or win 10 will be your death bed.

  19. na said on June 2, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Law suite for vista users? I mean I have 5 Vista Business disks I think vista should also get the free upgrade. I mean vista was the crappiest os ever. Besides WIN ME.

    1. Martin Brinkmann said on June 2, 2015 at 11:43 am

      I wonder why they have not extended the offer to Vista. It is still supported by Microsoft after all and it is definitely in the company’s best interest to get as many users as possible on the new system.

      1. Andrew said on June 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

        Or it could be that Vista just doesn’t have the market share. I mean even XP surpasses Vista.

      2. Tim said on June 2, 2015 at 12:19 pm

        Probably because they want them to buy new computers. It’s only the upgrade that’s free, Microsoft still get licence fees on new machines. :)

        On a side note though, Vista owners had a chance to upgrade to Windows 7, and again to Windows 8 Pro (for £25).

  20. olidie said on June 2, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Update is free for one year. If a motherboard is changed the update icence expires. According to Microsoft a clean install is not possible. Pro is 70% more expensive than Home. Win 10 might be a fine product but Microsoft’s licence policy is a pain in the a…

    1. Tom Hawack said on June 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm


      You state “According to Microsoft a clean install is not possible“. Do yo have the link to this statement? Does it mean that a clean install is not possible within the scheme of upgrading? Windows 10 is bound to be delivered as an iso file and/or on a dvd ($119-199) so what’s the take of an impossible clean install? I don’t get it.

      Whatever, if “a motherboard is changed the update icence expires” what’s the point of upgrading for free when the user sooner or later (2-3 years?) will have a new computer and will have to buy a full paying license?

      1. Tom Hawack said on June 3, 2015 at 10:32 am

        @Anonymous June 3, 2015 at 9:40 am

        Improving… if it’s official. Remains the “on the same device“. Microsoft is SO complicated, ambiguous, unclear, vague.

        Free is free or is not. If it is I wish 1- A Windows 10 iso file (will be available), 2- A free license on the basis of the one I have for Win7/8, 3- Therefor the possibility to install when and where I decide to install Windows 10 — Simple, no? (the question is for Microsoft, dear Anonymous!)

      2. Anonymous said on June 3, 2015 at 9:40 am

        According to this post from a Microsoft Forum Moderator:

        “Once you upgrade to Windows 10 successfully using the free upgrade offer, you will be able to clean reinstall Windows 10 on the same device during and after the free upgrade offer period without having to purchase Windows 10 or having to go back to the prior version of Windows that you upgraded from.”

      3. Noel L. Vivar said on June 2, 2015 at 8:05 pm

        I wonder if you could get a clean install the following way:
        1) upgrade install to Windows 10
        2) make a recovery image from Windows 10
        3) use recovery image to make a new installation of Windows 10, formatting drive if necessary.

        On the whole, this sounds like a mess. I just got a new laptop, and I’m annoyed at how much crapware is on it, and I wasn’t provided a clean image of MS Windows only. I thought manufacturers and MS would have learned that lesson by now. I’m now bypassing all of this by just installing Linux on it.

      4. Tom Hawack said on June 2, 2015 at 3:39 pm

        Appendum (too late to edit my previous post) :
        I read on Microsoft’s page above mentioned by olidie that Windows 10 upgrade will be made available on iso media as well. This is already better. Means that a change in the user’s hardware (new computer or simply new motherboard) or a complete install/reinstall will require to install Windows 7/8.1, update it (Windows Updates, drivers etc.), and then reboot with Windows 10 Upgrade previously saved on DVD with provided ISO file… or spare $119/199 for the Windows 10 OS license. I still wonder if it’s worth it.

      5. Tom Hawack said on June 2, 2015 at 3:20 pm

        Thanks for the info/link, olidie.
        I’m definitely less and less inclined to the hassle of installing an OS over another one be it for free now that I know such an install is limited to the life of the motherboard. Free is too expensive when it appears to make the user a post-beta tester.

      6. olidie said on June 2, 2015 at 2:29 pm

        Here’s my source for the no clean install statement
        “Can I do a clean install using the Free upgrade?
        No, it will require that you are running a previous qualifying version and start the upgrade from within the qualifying version.”

        I now believe that the motherboard issue might only be linked with hardware that has the windows key in the UEFI. Soon the smoke will clear and everything will get clearer.

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