Windows 10: what you need to know before you upgrade
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.
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.
- Windows 7 Starter, Windows 7 Home Basic, Windows 7 Home Premium and Windows 8.1 editions are upgraded to Windows 10 Home.
- Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate and Windows 8.1 Pro are upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
- 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.
- Windows 10 Home will be available for $119.
- Windows 10 Pro is priced at $199.
- 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.
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.
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.
Some features that Windows 10 ships with require additional requirements. This guide lists the most important requirements only.
- Cortana, the digital assistant, is only available in the following regions on launch: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, United States.
- 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.
- 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.
- BitLocker requires TPM 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB Flash drive.
- Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with SLAT capabilities and 2 GB of additional RAM.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Windows Live Essentials and OneDrive - OneDrive has been removed from Windows Live Essentials and is available as a standalone application in Windows 10.
- 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.