By Joe Callison
9 November, 2017
Time is quickly running out for a free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10. The extended deadline that was intended for those needing accessibility features or “assistive technologies” is ending on December 31, 2017. It is available whether you use accessibility features or not. The link is below:
The page looks like this:
The upgrade will first check your computer system to see if it meets all of the requirements for Windows 10, which are:
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
Free hard disk space: 16 GB
Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
The upgrade will also indicate which programs currently installed on your computer will not be installed due to incompatibility with Windows 10. You can choose to cancel the upgrade at this point if you wish.
The first step in the upgrade will make a complete backup of your existing Windows installation to a folder called windows.old which is used in the event you decide Windows 10 is not for you and you want to roll back to the previous Windows version. There is a limited time to make the decision, usually 10 days, before Windows 10 will automatically delete the folder. You can rename the folder to prevent its deletion if you wish, but I don’t know if that will preserve the rollback capability if you change it back to windows.old beyond the rollback expiration. The folder can be opened with File Explorer and you can copy any files from it if you wish. Your user files will be found under windows.old – users – your_windows_login_name.
The next step in the upgrade process is the download and installation of Windows 10 and its updates, which will typically take over an hour with a fast internet connection, and could take several hours with a slow one. When Windows 10 starts up, it will go through some more update processes for several minutes and then present you with some settings to choose related to privacy. Read each one before deciding if you want to allow the setting to remain enabled or turn it off. Your choices can always be modified later in the Windows 10 privacy settings.
Finally, when Windows 10 is running with the start screen showing, it will begin updating a lot of the apps, which will then show “New” under their names in the list of apps on the left side of the screen. This process could take another hour or so depending on your internet speed and the computer may not be very responsive to your commands until it is complete. Also some apps will take some time to get ready to use the first time they are opened and may appear to not be responding. Just be patient. It is best to let Windows finish all of the updating before making any judgements about Windows 10 and you should find that even with a relatively slow computer it will perform as well or better than the previous Windows version.
For Windows XP and Vista users, there is no free upgrade path to Windows 10, but there are some low cost options. PCMover by Laplink can be downloaded from laplink.com for $29.95 to do an in-place upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8 if you want to retain as much of your previous programs and settings as possible. You will need the Windows 7 or 8 installation media and license key. The files to create the installation media are available at no cost (see my FOR~GO blog titled About ISO Files) or borrow one from a friend. License keys from junked computers are resold for under $10, though I am not suggesting that using them complies with Microsoft’s license terms and conditions. If you are okay with just backing up your user files and doing a clean install of Windows 7, you can upgrade to Windows 10 without the PCMover cost. After upgrading to Windows 7 or 8, you can then have a free upgrade path to Windows 10 until the end of this year.