Getting readt for Windows 10Windows 10 will be released on July 29, and many have asked us to make a list of things to do to make sure their PC is ready for the big install day. From proactive maintenance, to backups, to reserving your copy, we have you covered with these ten tips.

#1 Get a Microsoft account

If you have an Outlook.com account, a Hotmail account, an Xbox account, or a Live ID, you already have a Microsoft account. If you don’t, go get one today here. It’s not required, but it makes things like synchronizing settings across devices and backing up data and settings to the cloud much easier, and it’s free.

#2 Reserve your copy today

The fastest way to get Windows 10 onto your eligible devices is to reserve your free copy today. You will have up to a year to get your free copy, but demand will be high and reserving a copy now is the way to go. Check out our post on how to reserve your copy here.

#3 Decide which edition is for you

Picking a Windows edition is like picking a car version…the names all sound cool but you need to see them side by side to really make a choice. If you go for the free upgrade, you will get the equivalent edition to what you are starting with, but you can purchase an upgrade to a more feature-rich version if you wish, or you may be looking to simply purchase a new copy off the shelf.

The core experiences are the same across all editions. That includes Cortana, Hello, Edge, Continuum, and Multi-doing. The majority of extra features in the business editions (Pro, Enterprise) and the education edition have to do with features home users won’t use, and which rely upon Active Directory. The one main exception may well be Bitlocker. Even home users appreciate the importance of encryption, and having built-in encryption in the operating system is something I would want, even on my home PC. See http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/WindowsForBusiness/Compare for a full comparison.

#4 Make sure your hardware is up to snuff

If your computer is running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 today, odds are very good that it will run Windows 10. The minimum hardware requirements include

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800×600

The graphics card is key. If your card is not capable of DirectX 9 or later, Windows 10 won’t run.

#5 Run Windows Update and patch everything

Before beginning the upgrade to 10, make sure your current operating system is fully patched. The easiest way to do that is run Windows Update, and install everything it offers, even the optional stuff.

#6 Make sure your third party software is also up to date

Just as important is to update all your applications. Historically, some vendors have been slow to update applications to work with the new version of Microsoft operating systems at release. They have had Windows 10 available to them for months, but that is often not enough. If you have any apps that you can’t live without, check the vendors’ support sites to confirm they work with Windows 10 before you upgrade.

#7 Check your peripherals

Check out the manufacturers’ websites for any key piece of external hardware, like your printers, scanners, web cams, network cards, and video cards to confirm that they have drivers for Windows 10.

#8 Back up your data

Upgrading to Windows 10 will prove to be the most successful and reliable upgrade ever…but it’s still an upgrade. Better safe than sorry is the way to go here, so back up any core data you must have before you begin, just in case.

#9 Make sure you have enough free space

You will need about 3GB of free space to download Windows 10 before upgrading. That may prove to be a challenge for small tablets with 32GB SSDs installed, so check to see what space you can free up before you begin.

#10 Know your software

The install will have to disable your security software before it begins. Windows 10 will save your settings, and then install the latest version of your security software, if it is compatible with Windows 10. If not, it will install Defender. Check before you begin to make sure you aren’t caught off guard by a change.

In addition, some tried and true apps included with various older versions of Windows go away. Check this list to be sure that’s not a deal breaker for you.

  • 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.
  • Watching DVDs requires separate playback software. Per http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-faq, this will be included.
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
  • If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
  • If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.

The install will scan for and identify any applications known not to work with Windows 10, so read carefully all the dialog boxes before clicking Next, just in case you missed something when you were getting ready.

Personally, I have been running Windows 10 as a member of the Insiders group for several months now, and I love it. I bet you will too, so go reserve your copy and get ready for the big day! July 29th is just around the corner.