It's finally Windows 10 launch day. Here's what you need to know before you make the plunge with Microsoft's latest operating system.
Can I Get It Right Now?
Sort of. July 29th is indeed official launch day, but Microsoft's taking a staggered rollout approach to Windows 10, offering it first to its Windows Insiders, then to those who've "requested" an upgrade through their existing Windows 7 or Windows 8 installations. Microsoft haven't been terribly forthcoming as to how long they expect the "rollout" phase to last, so you may find it's available quite quickly, or you may have to wait a few days before your own upgrade becomes "available".
The upgrade will run to around 3.4GB and should occur in the background, although obviously if you're on a slower or capped connection it may be a little more obvious when it's happening.
So It's Totally Free?
For some customers, yes. Specifically, if you've got a genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8, you're entitled to a free upgrade any time in the next year. That's free to download, with no ongoing costs or charges, although after that date you may have to pay for an upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.
If you're still using an older Windows OS, or you're building a new machine, however, you'll have to pay for an upgrade copy. Microsoft will offer that as a paid download and via USB, although the company is yet to announce Australian pricing for the new OS. This flowchart can help you sort out if you're entitled to a free upgrade.
Can I Buy It On A New PC?
In theory, yes, you should be able to walk into any given computer store, and they should have stock running Windows 10. At the very least they're likely to have demo stock, and they're allowed to sell machines with Windows 10 installed as of today.
Bear in mind that any machine you buy from today with either Windows 7 or Windows 8 installed on it will still be eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade, and should have little issue with meeting the minimum requirements.
Can I Buy A Copy?
Yes. If you're building a machine from scratch of don't have a legitimate version of 7 or 8, you'll need to purchase a copy. Windows 10 Home will set you back $179, while Windows 10 Pro costs $299.
Will My PC Run Windows 10?
Before you upgrade, you should check that your current PC is up to the task of running Windows 10. Broadly speaking, the specifications are close to those of Windows 7, with a couple of slight variations depending on the version of Windows 10 you want to run.
If all else fails, the compatibility checker that runs as part of the install should let you know if you're running a system that may have problems with Windows 10.
Which Version Of Windows 10 Do I Need?
If you're a consumer, you're most likely to need the most "basic" version of Windows 10, which is Windows 10 Home. That upgraded to the Education version if you want the full feature set, while on the business side there's Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise. There are seven different versions of Windows 10 in all, explained neatly here.
Can I Really Talk To My Windows 10 PC?
Well, you can right now, but don't expect it to do much.
Cortana, the much-hyped digital voice assistant part of Windows 10 won't actually be available for Australians at launch, because it's not configured for Australian English. You could, if you liked, set it to US English and try to affect a twang in your strine accent, but your results are likely to be mixed at best.
Do I Have To Upgrade To Windows 10?
Not at all, although obviously Microsoft is pushing quite hard for the existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 userbase to do so. Aside from whether any new features entice you, Windows 10 will be the primary focus of Microsoft's security efforts from now on, so there's a decent argument for upgrading right there, especially as it's free.
You will still be able to roll back to Windows 7 or 8 after installation if it's really not for you, as long as you do so within 30 days of installation.