Hands-on with Windows 10

How to upgrade

It seems silly, but we haven’t spoken about how you upgrade to Windows 10.

So… how do you upgrade?

Well, it probably won’t surprise you that there’s a download you’ll have to do, and being an operating system, it’s a pretty hefty download, weighing in at around 3GB, so make sure to make some time for that.

While Windows 10 is being released today (July 29), that doesn’t mean everyone will get it that day, with beta testers on the Windows Insider Program getting it first, as well as anyone who bought a Windows 8 computer this week (today even) being given a shortcut to get the operating system early, something Microsoft confirmed to us when we asked.

Outside of that, it’ll be how you’re placed in line, with Microsoft doing this to guarantee a solid upgrade process and one that won’t break your machine.

We’re led to believe a USB version could make its way out at one point, though we’ll keep you updated on if or when Microsoft Australia decides to make that publicly available for purchase.

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As to how the update goes, we’d advise backing up any information just in case it fails, but after upgrading two Windows 8 machines — a Microsoft Surface 3 and a Samsung Series 9 15 inch laptop — we found it to be one of the best and cleanest operating system installations we’ve ever experienced.

Simply put, they don’t come easier than this, with a check of updates followed by an install procedure that does so well, it even leaves your wallpaper the same, as it does with your shortcuts, installed apps, settings, and pretty much everything else.

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Remember that feeling when you upgraded last time and were left needing to reinstall apps, to reimport your bookmarks, and so on and so on? Gone.

For both of the Windows 10 computers we set up, about the only thing we needed to do was confirm our passwords for mail and calendar accounts. Everything else was left the way it was, and for the first time ever, humongous apps like Photoshop didn’t need to be reinstalled.

We’d still backup your critical files just in case, but so far, an installation on two completely different computers has revealed a fairly stable install experience, and one that took around an hour.

Pretty good, Microsoft.

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Pricing and availability

We haven’t used it for as long as a review normally requires, but already it’s one of our favourite operating systems, and does a lot to undo the damage that Windows 8 did to the “Windows” name.

Indeed, it almost feels like even on launch day, Windows 10 is a fantastic way to clean up that mess, which partially explains the new name, skipping over the “9” to give Microsoft a clean slate to work with.

Pricing and availability is a bit of an interesting question, though, because it sits in two places.

The Windows 10 weather app is pretty snazzy.
The Windows 10 weather app is pretty snazzy.

Right now, any computer running Windows 7 and Windows 8 on it is able to upgrade free to Windows 10, provided it’s not an Enterprise or Server edition of the software, so chances are there are quite a few free upgrades out there.

That free update will continue to be free for another year, expiring on July 29, 2016, giving you quite a bit of time to get Windows 10 without paying a cent.

Computers without Windows 7 or 8 — say something with XP or Vista — don’t appear to have a direct upgrade path at this time, so we’d suggest buying Windows 8 and upgrading through that, which is much the same experience with anyone who needs to build a computer.

Phones will apparently play nicely with Windows 10 via the Phone Companion. You can bet that's the next thing we're playing with.
Phones will apparently play nicely with Windows 10 via the Phone Companion. You can bet that’s the next thing we’re playing with.

Availability is a different matter altogether.

We’ve already mentioned that the first people to get the download will be beta testers and new computer buyers, but everyone else will get the Windows 10 rollout within the next couple of months.

You will need to reserve your place to download, so if you want to upgrade, look for the Windows icon in the task bar, click the app, and reserve your place, but it shouldn’t be too long, and then you can escape Windows 8 like the rest of us.