Why Should You Upgrade?
Windows 10 is the most current and most secure Microsoft operating system to date. It has a lot of new features like the Cortana digital assistant (similar to Apple’s Siri), the new Edge browser, and an improved interface. I’ve personally been using Windows 10 for over a year and have found it to be very stable and easier to use than previous operating systems. If you don’t like Windows 10, Microsoft made is very easy to revert to your previous operating system.
Why is Microsoft Offering a Free Upgrade?
There are a few reasons. One reason is that Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella promised the MS shareholders that there will be 1 billion devices running Windows 10 by mid-2018. Those devices not only include PCs and laptops but phones and tablets as well. Current data shows that there are currently around 300 million Windows 10 devices. So Mr. Nadella is under considerable pressure to deliver.
What’s the catch?
There’s no catch per se, but there are a few caveats. Your PC or laptop needs to be running Windows 7 or 8.1, Professional, Ultimate or any Home Edition. (If you still have Windows 8, you will need to first upgrade to 8.1.) The hardware requirements are rather minimal: 1GHz CPU, 2GB RAM and 20GB of free space. Windows Enterprise and RT (tablet) editions are not eligible, nor is any operating system prior to Windows 7 such as Windows Vista, XP, ME, 2000, etc.
Doesn’t Windows 10 Spy on People?
Some of the features of Windows 10, such as the Cortana digital assistant, contacts and location services, do collect data which is used to “enhance" the users' experience” and to produce a better operating system. Microsoft calls this analytical data collection but privacy advocates may call it spying. For example, when you ask Cortana a question, that data is sent to Microsoft so that an answer can be generated. Or your location is used to get local weather, traffic, news and time. Many of these features can be disabled in the Windows 10 privacy settings and the data deleted from Bing if you prefer more anonymity. Check out this article on how to adjust these privacy settings. Generally, if you are comfortable with Google’s and Apple’s data collection practices, then you will be okay with Microsoft’s.
Upgrading Best Practices
Before commencing with the Windows 10 Upgrade, it is a good idea to create an image of your system drive and store it on an external hard drive in case something goes wrong during the upgrade process. Watch this video to see how. If you are unable to create a system image, create a complete backup of all your data files, in the very least. If you use a cloud backup system, verify that a recent backup has been completed before proceeding to the next step.
Don't click on the "Upgrade Windows 10" notification in your system tray. Instead, download and run the Microsoft Media Creation Tool. You won't actually be creating any media (USB, DVD, ISO), but the tool will download the complete installer before starting the upgrade. When you run the Media Creation Tool, select the "upgrade this PC" option. If you have additional PCs that you want to upgrade, you can select the option to "create installation media" which will expedite upgrading subsequent computers.
Exercise extreme patience because the upgrade process may take a long time (up to 4 hours) and require several reboots of your computer. If it appears to hang up, just wait because it may be upgrading some critical files. Most people who have problems with the Windows 10 upgrade are impatient and reboot their computer because they believe that it froze. The consequence of trying to rush the upgrade is an unbootable computer that will likely need to restored from the image created prior.
After the upgrade completes, check out the additional resources below for tips on customizing Windows 10 and setting your privacy options.
But I Don’t Want to Upgrade
That’s no problem and completely understandable. Many users like their current system and Microsoft will continue supporting Windows 7 until January 2020 and Windows 8.1 until January 2023. Check out this article to disable the Windows 10 Upgrade alert in your system tray. But understand that the Windows 10 user interface is a huge improvement over Windows 8.1 so if you use that operating system, you may want to do yourself a favor and consider the upgrade while it’s free. If you decide to upgrade after the July 29, 2016 deadline, you may still do so but will likely have to pay $100 or more out of pocket.