12317535-2400x1393Microsoft recently announced that their newest PC Operating System, Windows 10, will be available on July 29th. What’s more, if you are currently a Windows 7 or 8.1 user, it will be available as a free upgrade.

How to Get It

  1. If you are currently running Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or 8.1, and have installed the March update, take a look at the Windows System Tray located on the right side of your Start Bar. You should see an icon that looks like the Windows logo. Hover your cursor over it and it will say “Get Windows 10”.
  2. Click that icon and you’ll get instructions on how to reserve your free upgrade, as well as information about Windows 10. You’ll be asked to provide your email address so that you can be notified once it has been downloaded to your computer.
  3. When Windows 10 becomes available on July 29th, it will automatically be downloaded to your computer, and you will receive an email telling you so. You can then choose when to actually install it.
  4. If you should decide to cancel your reservation before July 29th, you can do so through the same “Get Windows 10” icon.
  5. If you aren’t eligible for the free upgrade, it will be available for purchase on July 29th. The Home version is expected to cost $119, while the Pro version will cost $199. But before you spend your money, you should first look into your ability to upgrade to the levels required for the free upgrade.

What’s New?

The most notable difference with Windows 10 is the desktop itself. The level of difference will depend on whether you’re currently running Windows 7 or 8.1. Windows 7 users are accustomed to the traditional desktop while 8.1 users were introduced to the “Live Tile” approach. Windows 10 combines the best of both worlds.  It starts with the traditional look and feel of the Windows 7 (and previous versions) desktop, but then gets considerably different when you click the Start button. You’ll then see the familiar Start Menu, with the addition of the Live Tiles for a more Windows 8.1 design. This may take some getting used to, but it’s Microsoft’s attempt to satisfy all of the members of their audience, and in my opinion, they’ve done a nice job with it.

Windows 10 will also introduce you to Cortana. Ever heard of Siri? Well, Cortana is Windows’ answer to Siri for your personal assistant needs. As long as you have a microphone and speakers, you can interact with it through voice commands. If not, you can type things in through the Search box.

Another item that Microsoft is really touting is the ability of Windows 10 to recognize the type of device you’re using and transform its display accordingly. The best example of this would be running it on a 2-in-1 device that can be used like a laptop or a tablet. If you remove the keyboard, you’ll be asked if you want to change to a format this is more conducive to a tablet.

Of course there are a number of other new features and improvements, too many for me to get into here, but there are also a few features that will be removed:

  1. Windows Media Center
  2. The card game “Hearts” (who makes these decisions?!)
  3. Desktop Gadgets

As with any new technology, only time will tell. On the surface, the Windows 10 upgrade appears to be one of Microsoft’s best efforts yet and probably worth a look. Do you have additional insights to share about Windows 10? I’d like to hear about them in the comments below!

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