How to upgrade to Windows 10 for free

Microsoft recently revealed that the final version of Windows 10 will be released to the public on July 29. We know that Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, so here are the details on how you can get in on this offer.

Currently Microsoft has started pushing out a "Get Windows 10" notification to users running a genuine copy of Windows 7 and Windows 8 (or Windows 8.1), allowing them to reserve a free Windows 10 upgrade when it is released.

The dialog box highlights the features of Windows 10 OS, including the redesigned Start Menu, Cortana integration, Edge browser, multitasking capabilities, enhanced security features, and the new unified Windows Store. You can also check if your PC hardware is ready for Windows 10 upgrade right through the dialog box.

To reserve your free Windows 10 upgrade, all you have to do is enter your email address. After then (The time between reservation and when your upgrade is ready) it will download files to your PC you need for the upgrade. Then, when your upgrade is ready after July 29, 2015, it will notify you to install Windows 10 or lets you schedule the installation for a time that’s convenient for you.

This Windows upgrade notification is powered by Windows Update KB3035583, and it will show up from time to time on your desktop to convince you to upgrade to Windows 10. Users who have not receive the Windows 10 Free Upgrade notification can check their reservation here.

Windows 10 System Requirements

Besides revealing the release date of Windows 10, Microsoft also revealed the hardware requirements that will be needed for a computer to run the company’s latest operating system. This list includes basic system requirements plus additional hardware that is required for certain features.

The very basic hardware you will need to run Windows 10 if you own a Windows 7 and/or a Windows 8.1 PC and want to get the free upgrade:
  • To upgrade you will need “the latest version either Windows 7 with Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows 8.1 with Update 2.
  • Processor: 1GHz or faster processor or SoC (system on a chip). 64-bit versions of Windows 10 require a processor that supports CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW, and LAHF/SAHF capabilities.
  • RAM: 1 GB for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit or 20 GB for 64-bit
  • Graphics: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver.
  • Display: 1024 x 600 pixels resolution.

Additional requirements to use certain features:
  • Microsoft Account: Required for some features.
  • Cortana Support: Cortana is only supported in the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain. Speech recognition requires a microphone.
  • Speech Recognition: This feature will vary by device microphone. For better speech experience you will need a high fidelity microphone array (and a) hardware driver with Microphone array geometry exposed
  • Windows Hello: A specialized illuminated infrared camera for facial recognition or iris detection, or a fingerprint reader which supports the Window Biometric Framework.
  • Continuum: A tablets or 2-in-1 PC with GPIO indicators. Others can enter and exit Tablet Mode manually.
  • Music and Video streaming: The Xbox Music and Xbox Video streaming capabilities are only available in certain regions.
  • Two Factor Authentication: This security features will requires the use of a PIN, Biometric (fingerprint reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with WiFi or Bluetooth capabilities.
  • Secure Boot: Firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database.
  • Device Guard: Only available in Windows 10 Enterprise. Requires UEFI Secure Boot with 3rd party UEFI CA removed from the UEFI database, TPM 2.0, virtualization support configured on by default in the System Firmware (BIOS), Intel VT-x or AMD RVI virtualization extensions, Intel EPT or AMD RVI Second Level Address Translation, Intel VT-d or AMD-Vi IOMMU, UEFI BIOS configured to prevent unauthorized user from disabling Device Guard hardware security features, and Microsoft signed and compatible kernel mode drivers.
  • Device Encryption. A PC with InstantGo and TPM 2.0.
  • BitLocker: Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise, Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB flash drive.
  • BitLocker To Go: Windows 10 Pro or higher, a USB flash drive.
  • Client Hyper-V: Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise 64-bit, second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and an additional 2 GB of RAM.
  • Miracast: A Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.3-compatible display adapter and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct.
  • Wi-Fi Direct Printing: A Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct and a device that supports Wi-Fi Direct Printing.
  • To install a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit PC: your processor needs to support CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW, and LAHF/SAHF
  • InstantGo: Only with computers designed for Connected Standby.

Windows 10 Upgrade Matrix: This is the version of Windows 10 you will get for free when you upgrade

For those wondering which version of Windows 10 they’ll get, the company as detailed the upgrade matrix for Windows 10. As a part of its Windows 10 release date announcement, Microsoft has shared a upgrade matrix detailing which version of Windows 10 you will receive when you upgrade from different Windows 7 and 8 editions:

Windows 7:
  • Windows 7 Starter will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 7 Home Basic will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 7 Home Premium will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 7 Professional will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 7 Ultimate will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
Windows 8:
  • Windows 8.1 will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 8.1 with Bing will be upgraded to Windows 10 Home
  • Windows 8.1 Pro will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
  • Windows 8.1 Pro for Students will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro
Windows Phone:
  • Windows Phone 8.1 will be upgraded to Windows 10 Mobile. The availability of the upgrade may vary by hardware maker, mobile operator or carrier.
Excluded Editions:
  • Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8, Windows 8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1 are excluded from the free upgrade offer.
Microsoft previously announced a comprehensive list of Windows 10 editions, which you can read about in detail here.

Here are the features that Windows 10 will remove when you upgrade from Windows 7 and Windows 8.1

Windows 10 comes with several new features and improvements over the earlier versions of Windows. However, some of the older features and applications will be deprecated versions when you upgrade. Here are the list of applications and services that will no longer be available once you upgrade to Windows 10.

  • Windows Media Center: If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
  • DVD Playback: Watching DVDs on Windows 10 will requires separate playback software.
  • Desktop Gadgets. Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed when you upgrade.
  • Preinstalled Games: The games that come preinstalled on Windows 7 (like Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts) will be removed when you upgrade to Windows 10 upgrade. New versions of Solitaire and Minesweeper (called the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper, respectively) are available in Windows 10 instead.
  • Floppy Drive Support: If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the hardware maker’s web site to use it with Windows 10.
  • Windows Live Essentials: No, Essentials won’t be removed. But the OneDrive application that came with Essentials will be removed and will be replaced with the “in-box version of OneDrive.
  • Windows Updates: This is the most interesting one. In previous Windows versions, you could control how updates were installed. But those with Windows 10 Home will have updates from Windows Update made available automatically. Only Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise users will be able to defer updates.

source - Microsoft

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