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Windows 10 Upgrade Guide: What You Need to Know



For months, Microsoft has teased users about what it has in store for them when Windows 10 rolls out. That being said, only this week did we get a clear picture of everything Windows 10 will mean for users. Apps will work across Windows 10 on phones, tablets and notebooks and desktops. Windows 10 also includes an adaptive interface that changes depending on whether touch or a mouse and keyboard or touch is being used. There’s plenty more to entice users of every kind.

How to Get the Start Menu Back in Windows 10 (8)

Read: What is Windows 10?

At this point, the biggest question on user’s minds isn’t whether Windows 10 will address the issues they have with Windows – Microsoft has stuffed tons of fixes into this upgrade. The question is how and if users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 when it becomes available. Windows 10 might be a better operating system that’s easier to use for some, but upgrading is still as nuanced as it has ever been. Microsoft has confirmed that anyone running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will get the upgrade free in final form. Here’s what we know about the upgrade process already.

Upgrading from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10

How to Setup Parental Controls in Windows 8.1  (1)

By all accounts, it’ll be the easiest thing in the world for Windows 8.1 users to upgrade to Windows 10 when it becomes available. Microsoft hasn’t said how the final upgrade will work exactly, but we can extrapolate.

Windows 8.1 was the first time Microsoft rolled out a large update through a method other than Windows Update. Overtime, Microsoft required anyone who wanted to continue getting updates to upgrade to Windows 8.1 through Windows Update eventually, but for the first couple of months users needed to go into the Windows Store and download Windows 8. 1 manually. Presumably, that’ll be how users upgrade from Windows 8.1 to the final version of Windows 10.

Today, Windows 8.1 users can upgrade to Windows 10 through the Windows Insider Program. That involves signing up for the program, downloading and installation file, copying that installation file to a disc or USB flash drive and getting through the set up process. Windows 8.1 devices can be upgraded to Windows 10 without a fresh install, meaning users get to keep their programs installed.

Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have virtually identical system requirements. As such, compatibility shouldn’t be a problem.

Upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 10

How to Fix Windows 8.1 Update Issues (1)

Windows 8 user trying to upgrade to Windows 10, will find themselves in a bit of a jam. Officially, Microsoft treats Windows 8 as Windows 8.1, meaning you should have already upgraded to Windows 8.1 by now. To upgrade to Windows 10 right now, you’ll need to install all pending updates – including Windows 8.1 – then upgrade to Windows 10 after joining the Windows Insider Program.

Again, Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 have similar hardware requirements. If your PC is running either, than you’re in the clear as far as upgrades are concerned.

Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10

Windows 7

Windows 7 is where upgrading to Windows 10 gets very, very interesting. Strictly speaking, Windows 10 is the most direct upgrade for anyone still using Windows 7. The Desktop interface that dominated previous versions of Windows is back in all of its glory. Microsoft has upgraded the Desktop with a new design, apps from the Windows Store and some new Snap suggestions for better multitasking. If you liked Windows 7, you should like Windows 10.

Once again, the upgrade path and system requirements are the same. Windows 7 users are able to upgrade directly to Windows 10. That means they won’t be required to install all of their programs again. Hardware compatibility should be fine, provided a device isn’t running Windows 7 Starter Edition. That’s where system requirements get dicey.

Many of the devices that came with Windows 7 Starter Edition had smaller hard drives. Windows 10 requires at least 16GB of storage to install. Your Windows 7 Starter Edition device may not have that available. If it doesn’t you may want to just wait until the final version of Windows 10 rolls out rather than deleting some of your files.

Upgrading from Windows Vista to Windows 10

If upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10 seemed dicey, going from Windows Vista to Windows 10 is going to be downright painful. In theory it shouldn’t be, Windows Vista was the first major upgrade to require faster processors and new hardware. Since Windows Vista Microsoft has basically kept upgrade requirements the same.

The trouble is that Windows Vista isn’t a supported operating system any longer. Upgrading to Windows 10 will require Windows Vista users to do what’s called a fresh install. In short, expect to install every app to your device again after the update. It doesn’t appear as if this will change for the final version of Windows 10 coming later this year.

Read: Windows 10: 3 Things to Back Up Before the Preview

Good luck updating your Windows device to Windows 10. Remember, what you’re getting is a test of the final version. Back up your data and make sure that you’ve backed up your operating system before you upgrade.





  1. YTG137

    01/24/2015 at 12:12 pm

    I think there’s a mistake in the section “Upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 10”.

    The 2nd sentence reads: “Strictly speaking, Windows 10 is the most direct upgrade for anyone still using Windows 10.”

    Assuming it should be: “Strictly speaking, Windows 10 is the most direct upgrade for anyone still using Windows 7”.

    • Travis Pope

      01/26/2015 at 8:43 am

      Thanks for pointing that out. That was a mistake on my part.

  2. Brad

    07/29/2015 at 2:21 am

    How do I know if I have been upgraded as a Windows 10 Pro insider? I seen my screen flicker and more files put into my C:\ Help!!! It seemed a bit sketchy on the delivery method…How do I know if my product key is still the same?

  3. wielgus franciszek

    07/30/2015 at 4:12 am

    Po zainstalowaniu Windows 10 otrzymałem informację z Lenovo Solution Center;SYSTEM-2:STAN-NIEAKTUALNY;OSTATNIA AKTUALIZACJA-NIEDOSTĘPNE.
    NIE MOGĘ URUCHOMIĆ Windows Update ani aktualizować oprogramowanie Lenovo G580.
    Proszę o pomoc.
    Z poważaniem
    franciszek wielgus

  4. Gail Gary

    08/03/2015 at 4:41 pm

    Another problem with upgrading: Windows 7 Starter can’t update to 10 on my netbook, even though it has adequate disk space. The “Intel Accelerated Graphics Driver, 3600 series”, is not compatible with Windows 10, and Intel does not have a newer driver available that IS compatible with Windows 10. Dead in the water. So it’s not just a matter of disk space…it took me about six hours of trying various things before Windows 10 gave me the message that told me WHY the install kept failing. It literally took six hours. Six hours of my life that I won’t get back.

    • R dew

      08/08/2015 at 11:58 pm

      Thanks Gary will double check before trying on my netbook.

      • Gail Gary

        08/31/2015 at 6:48 am

        I disabled the problem driver last night in the Device Manager, noted the expected change in display quality but said, OK, I want to see if this works now to get me to Windows 10. I then removed the old download files from the failed install, and forced a new download.It works! And the graphics look fine—as good as they did before I disabled the 3600 Series driver. No pixelation evident.Your experience may vary,of course, but I am now running Windows 10 on my Acer Aspire One Netbook. Persist,friends, persist!!

  5. tommyback

    08/20/2015 at 11:27 am

    Two days ago my pc was upgraded to windows 10 home insider preview evaluation copy Build 10525, since than I can’t get internet explorer or google

  6. Robert Strowbridge

    08/20/2015 at 11:38 am

    Using Windows 7, my desktop was extremely slow. I got Windows 10 Insider preview and my computer was zoom-zoom. Great, I thought. A week before it’s official release, I noticed one morning my desktop was upgraded to the official Windows 10 Pro. Now my computer is slower than my old Windows 7.

  7. DavidTRobison

    08/29/2015 at 1:06 am

  8. Kc

    10/20/2015 at 12:46 pm

    I upgraded from W7 to 10 and it has been a disaster. W10 is not stable. W10 killed drivers all over the place. Wi FI died, plug and plays for printers failed. Microsoft will never get my business again. Enough is enough! Terrible product and implementation .

  9. Gary Brumback

    10/31/2015 at 12:44 pm

    Where can I find Dell’s list of their laptops compatible with Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft told me online the two were compatible, so I tried to install W10 from MS online. It failed twice and crashed. My Deil laptop is now in a Microsoft store for repair.

  10. NUCKS

    12/28/2015 at 4:46 pm

    Upgraded from windows 7 starter, to 10. Now I have trouble browsing the web and the computer says that I am connected to myserver. What happened or what do I do?

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