“Can my computer handle a Windows 10 upgrade?” That’s likely to be the first question every Windows user has as Microsoft shares more final release details for its Windows 10 operating system. It’s a question that’s getting easier to answer thanks to some hard work that’s been done by Microsoft. Unfortunately, there’s still no definitive way to answer it a single sentence.
Finding the right answer to this question could mean the difference between a stellar Windows experience going forward with the notebook, tablet or desktop you already own and having to trudge out to your local electronics retailer to purchase a new machine.
GottaBeMobile broke down the roughly upgrades just a few weeks ago when Microsoft revealed the different versions of Windows 10 we’ll see. As such, it’s a good idea to refer to that for a big picture look at what versions of Windows will get the free update and which won’t.
In this article we hope to answer the Windows 10 upgrade question from a generational perspective based on specifications and operating system.
Windows Vista and Windows XP
Windows Vista launched back in 2006, after years of Microsoft fumbling around in the PC operating system space. It was aggressively modern, forcing millions of users to upgrade their PCs if they wanted to take advantage of its Aero Glass visual styles and other new features.
Windows Vista Home Basic required a PC that had at least an 800MHz processor, 512MB of RAM, 20GB of storage and an external DVD drive. More sophisticated versions of Windows Vista — like Windows Vista Home Premium and Windows Vista Ultimate — required at least a 1GHz processor, 1GB of memory and at least 40GB of storage. DirectX 9 support was required too.
Windows 10 hardware requirements are mostly unchanged from Windows 8, Microsoft’s last major operating system release. Getting the Windows 10 Upgrade on your PC will require 1GB of RAM, 20GB of storage, support for at least DirectX 9.
If your computer has Windows Vista Home Premium or Windows Vista Ultimate installed you should be able to run the Windows 10 upgrade just fine. Unfortunately, Microsoft won’t be handing out free Windows 10 upgrades to Windows Vista users so you’ll have to pay for it out of your own pocket. Microsoft hasn’t said how much that’ll cost. Those tired of their Windows Vista era PCs should be able to upgrade to a device with Windows 10 installed this summer. Lenovo will introduce its first Windows 10 PC this August, for example.
If you’re using Windows XP, I’m afraid there’s not a lot of great news for you. If you’re comfortable using your Windows XP machine and you have all the latest updates stick with what you know. If it’s finally time for you to upgrade, do so by getting a completely new machine if you aren’t using a custom PC that you put together yourself. Windows XP users won’t get offered free upgrades to Windows 10 either.
Windows 7 and Windows 8
Have a Windows 8 PC with the latest upgrades and software fixes? There’s good news for you. Getting the Windows 10 Upgrade should be easy.
Microsoft hasn’t yet made it clear if Windows 10 will arrive for Windows 8 users as a package in the Windows Store like Windows 8.1 did or as an update they get through the Windows Update tool, but users will definitely get the upgrade and should certainly meet the hardware requirements. Users that have manually turned off Windows 8 updates will, of course, want to turn them back on ahead of the release. In fact, downloading the free Windows 8.1 update from the Windows Store before the Windows 10 upgrade arrives isn’t a terrible idea.
Windows 7 users will also get a free Windows 10 upgrade, according to Microsoft. Roughly a month ago Microsoft added a notification feature into Windows 7 that’ll let users reserve a Windows 10 upgrade when it’s ready. That system is laying dormant until the upgrades start rolling out, but the raw materials are in place. Hardware requirements shouldn’t be a problem for Windows 7 PCs either. As with Windows 8, you’ll want to go ahead and turn on automatic updates a bit before the Windows 10 upgrade becomes available if they aren’t already on.
Read: What is Windows 10?
Windows 10 isn’t Microsoft trying to reinvent Windows’s core experience for everyone just to appease tablet users. Instead, Windows 10 is a balancing act combined with a host of new features. A new system called Continuum lets Windows PCs adapt based on whether users have a keyboard and mouse or touch available. If there’s a keyboard, users get a Start Menu and windowed apps. If there’s just touch users get fullscreen apps and a Start Screen that’s touch friendly. There’s new music and video apps, a fresh web browser that is more like Chrome and Firefox than Internet Explorer. Microsoft even recently revealed a companion app that let Windows 10 users take a bit of the operating system with them on their iPhone and Android device.