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Windows 10 Frequently Asked Questions
By Brian Lipscomb
May 18, 2016

Since Windows 10 was released just about a year ago, I have received a lot of questions about it. Here are some of the most common questions and my responses to them.

What is Windows 10?

Windows 10 is Microsoft's latest version of Windows, the operating system that runs on most computers. It was released to the public on July 29, 2015.

What makes Windows 10 different from past versions?

Windows 10 attempts to take the best parts of Windows 7 and Windows 8 and unify them into one operating system. In my opinion, they have succeeded at doing that. One of the biggest complaints about Windows 8/8.1 was the removal of the traditional Start menu, but in Windows 10 it has returned, with new features. Windows 10 also retains the speed improvements that Windows 8 had over Windows 7. In addition to PCs, Windows 10 is designed to work well with tablets and other touch-friendly devices.

How much does it cost?

If you are running a "genuine" (meaning legal and legitimate) version of Windows 7 (with Service Pack 1) or 8.1 (meaning it came pre-installed on your PC or you bought a legal retail edition) you can upgrade for free for one year. If your version of Windows is not genuine, you will need to purchase a legal copy of Windows 10.

How do I get it?

A. Microsoft has a site set up that explains the process here. You can reserve a copy now and upgrade at a later time.

Should I upgrade now?

In my opinion, no. As with any new operating system, it is always a good idea to wait a bit to ensure any glitches are worked out. I have already heard of a couple issues involved in the upgrade process, so I would hold off for at least a month or so. I have also had a few minor issues myself. However, once installed properly, it seems to run very smoothly. I am typing this FAQ on Windows 10, and so far I have not had any issues that would affect my ability to work.

Can I do it myself?

In the vast majority of cases, yes. If your computer is working fine, your upgrade should go smoothly. If however you have had a recent malware infection and you're not sure that your PC is thoroughly cleaned, you should hire a professional and consider a "clean" install. That process takes longer but increases your chances of a smooth upgrade.

My computer manufacturer says my computer is "certified" for Windows 10. Why should I wait to upgrade?

"Certified" means that the hardware in your computer is indeed compatible with Windows 10. It does not guarantee that your upgrade experience will be smooth. If you have any type of malware or other software issues, the upgrade process may be affected. Again, waiting about a month for any major issues to be worked out is your best bet. Remember, you have a full year to upgrade for free.

I don't know if my PC is compatible or not. How can I make sure?

If you are regularly installing Windows updates, you will eventually see a Get Windows 10 icon (a small windows logo) appear on your taskbar. Right click this icon and select "Check your upgrade status". Then click the menu icon in the upper left of the window that appears and select "Check your PC". ZDNet has a blog entry that explains this process with photos at this link.

Is there anything else I should know? Yes: Of course, if you have any other questions, you can send me a message via the form on the Contact page.