Have you recently noticed a new icon that appeared by magic on your taskbar?
Confusingly, the icon I am talking about is the same as the icon for the “Start Menu” introduced in Windows 8.1. You can see it in figure 1. This new icon, though, is towards the righthand side of your taskbar in the area known as the “system tray” (known also by Microsoft as the “notification area”).
If you hover your mouse over this icon it will invite you to “Get Windows 10”. Well, you can’t do this – yet. What will actually happen is that your computer will inform Microsoft that you would like to download Windows 10 when it becomes available (July 29th). It will still need to be installed after it’s been downloaded.
Windows 10 will be free for all owners of a Windows 7 or Windows 8 installation who upgrade to Windows 10 during its first year. Thereafter, the price is expected to be £99.99 (source).
I would recommend not rushing into installing Windows 10 in the first few days after it is launched. However well Windows 10 has been prepared and tested, there are bound to be thousands – if not millions – of combinations of hardware and software that have not been tested. Yours could easily be one of them. It’s become customary for “normal” people to wait a month or two after the release of a new version of Windows before acquiring it. This makes sense. Let other people discover the problems and let Microsoft have a chance to sort them out before getting involved.
Should I upgrade after, say, a month?
If you’ve currently got Windows 8 and don’t like it, then you may stand to gain the most by upgrading for free to Windows 10. It’s widely thought that Microsoft have actually listened to the negative feedback regarding Windows 8, so 10 should be better.
If you’ve currently got a perfectly workable and stable installation of Windows 7 then you may prefer to let sleeping dogs lie. Windows 7 works and it is still fully supported by Microsoft. Why fix it if it isn’t broken?
If you’ve currently got Windows Vista then Windows 10 may well represent an improvement. When it came out, Vista was heavily criticised for being slow and bulky and for not playing nicely with a lot of peripherals (printers and so on). Over the years, updates to Vista have smoothed off a lot of the rough edges so you may now be happy with it.
And if you are still using Windows XP then an upgrade would certainly be a good idea as it’s vulnerable to security attacks – see “Stuck With Windows XP For Now“. Whether or not your hardware is capable of running Windows 10 becomes a very important question if your hardware is old enough to be running XP.
Now for the bad news for XP and Vista users – you can not upgrade for free to Windows 10. There is a method of doing it for free, but that involves installing the “technical preview”. See this link for more information on this. I strongly suspect, though, that if you are minded to try this then you probably aren’t my average computer support client, so aren’t reading this anyway!
Whichever version of Windows you are currently running, I would strongly advise running Microsoft’s hardware checker to see if it will run Windows 10. Unfortunately, though, this checker is not yet available. You can see where it will appear as follows:-
- Right-click on the “Get Windows 10” icon on your system tray
- Left-click on “Check your upgrade status”
- Left-click on the “menu” icon (four horizontal bars) at the top lefthand corner of the window that opens up.
- Left-click on “Check your PC”
It is not yet clear whether this checker will look at peripherals such as printers to see whether they will be compatible. It is quite common for printers to get “left behind” when new versions of the operating system (Windows) are released. This is not too surprising. If you made printers, would you want to spend lots of money creating the software (drivers and so on) for one of your old models to work with a new version of Windows? I think not.
So, there’s no easy answer to the question of whether to upgrade to Windows 10 when it is released. At the very least, though, I would recommend caution. Give it a few weeks at least, before upgrading. And do not even think of upgrading without first ensuring that you have adequate backups.
And if you are thinking of buying a new computer in the near future, it might be worth waiting a few weeks until Windows 10 is the operating system installed from the beginning.