There hasn’t been any official news about the Windows 10 January Technical Preview that Microsoft has coming at the beginning of the new year. That isn’t stopping the company from preparing users when the Windows 10 upgrade arrives with a new download tool, though.
Microsoft updated its Windows website with a new software download that prepares Windows 8 and Windows 7 users for the new version of Windows 10 making its début in the new year, this week.
The tool itself breaks down system requirements for Windows 10 behind the scenes and prepares files for the upgrade. Microsoft is hoping that asking users to prepare now will help streamline the process when users all flock to upgrade to the Windows 10 January Technical Preview after the holidays.
Just because Microsoft is letting users make preparations for the Windows 10 January Technical Preview doesn’t mean that the update is any less dangerous. The download page for the tool notes that what users are getting in the update is a prerelease version of Windows 10 that could destabilize their computer and break all sorts of things. It also notes that backing up data is a very good idea before and after your Windows device is updated to Windows 10.
Forget potentially losing your data. One of the biggest drawbacks to running the Windows 10 January Technical Preview will be that it actually breaks Windows 8’s reset and restore functionality. That’s the feature that allow users to completely reset their Windows device back to factory settings and erase their data or reinstall Windows without having to remove files. Microsoft is encouraging Windows users to make an entire image of their device in working order before upgrading next month in case serious issues crop up. Most PC makers charge users for disc-based backups of the software running on their device. There’s also a tool usually installed in Windows by the PC maker for this purpose too.
This preparation tool is a small step, but an important one as Microsoft gears up for its biggest software launch since 2012. Coming in late 2015, Windows 10 will once again mark a huge shift in Microsoft’s strategy to win over consumers.
Microsoft forced the same interface on tablets, desktops and notebooks with Windows 8. Doing so might have made Windows 8 easier to use for some, but many more didn’t appreciate having the Start Screen and Windows Store apps dominate the experience they already knew and loved. Windows 10 goes in a different philosophical direction. Instead of forcing one design on all users, Windows 10 analyzes what inputs a device has and changes its interface accordingly.
Say you’re on a notebook. You’ll see a Start Screen and Desktop with some new extras like built-in search and a new app store. If you’re on a tablet, you’ll get an experience similar to the Start Screen. Attach a keyboard to that tablet and Windows 10 will switch to a more mouse and keyboard friendly interface. Microsoft calls this interface Continuum.
Apps downloaded from the Windows Store will run in whatever interface users have available to them at the time. A single Store will link all the different versions of Windows 10 together. Leaks indicate Music and Video will be included in the store’s final interface. So too will apps for Windows, Windows Phone and Microsoft’s Xbox One console. To be clear, earlier versions of Windows 10 are already available, but are very unstable and don’t yet include these extras.
Microsoft hasn’t shared any Windows 10 release date details just yet. As such, we don’t know how much the upgrade will cost Windows 7 or Windows 8 users. We also don’t have a final release date. Microsoft hasn’t been any more specific than a simple “Fall 2015” release window.