If you haven’t heard, Windows 10 was released June 29. Microsoft has been rolling out updates to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users who reserved their download times for the free upgrade with what seems to be great success. Some of my clients have already begun the conversion process and so far the majority of them have been happy with the process. As with most software though the upgrade process has not gone as planned, resulting in some machines not behaving as expected. Most of the problem comes from older hardware that does not have a compatible driver. In many cases, downloading an updated driver for the device that seems to be causing the trouble has rectified the problems. The “interwebs” also seem to agree that this latest version of Windows is pretty good…high praise for Microsoft as they aren’t known for stirring quite the same hype and excitement as their rival Apple.
Here is the scoop on what you need to successfully run Windows 10. From a hardware perspective the requirements are pretty low so, provided your hardware has compatible drivers, even some comparatively old machines should run Windows 10. Here are the base hardware requirements:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
- Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
- Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
- Display: 800×600
Of course I don’t recommend running the minimum hardware requirements. I would recommend at least 4 GB of RAM to cover all the multitasking you will be doing since Windows 10 allows you to snap up to 4 open apps to a single screen as opposed to the only 2 Windows 8 supported.
Another cool new feature that isn’t really all that new to other operating systems is having multiple virtual desktops. We love our desktops. We stack everything we can on the desktop; documents, shortcuts, applications, you name it it’s on the desktop. What if you could organize all those things into projects or some other grouping and just flip to that desktop whenever you were working on a task or project. Virtual desktops make that a possibility. Of course you could just keep filling up desktops with icons with no sense of organization…the power is yours. Speaking of power, Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, is now available on pretty much every Windows 10 device. I use Siri, Apple’s digital assistant, a lot, but by many accounts Cortana wins hands down when it comes to helpfulness. Cortana hangs out happily on your taskbar taking note of the things you like, what is on your calendar, and numerous other things and presents you with news, information and reminders that are relevant to you. Helpful tips like you have a meeting across town in 20 minutes but you should take an alternate route because traffic is heavy on the beltway. This is one of the new features I am really going to enjoy.
Windows 10 also has a lot of security features built in like Windows Hello. Windows Hello is built in support for biometric security. You can use Windows Hello to allow you to log in to your machine with a fingerprint, facial recognition, or if you are feeling like a super spy, iris scanning. The one catch is each of these requires special hardware, but since the support is baked right into Windows now I expect we will see prices drop on this hardware as adoption grows. In addition to biometric security, Windows 10 also supports 2 factor authentication. This means that for example to log into the computer you might need a card key AND a fingerprint or an iris scan and a password. Admit it, you are thinking about Mission Impossible right now, aren’t you? I know I am.
Like Windows 8.1, Windows 10 comes with device encryption. This means that out of the box your system drive and any other fixed drives are encrypted. If you are running Windows 10 Pro or Enterprise you also get access to Bitlocker and Bitlocker-2-Go. I have talked about Bitlocker before, but if you don’t know Bitlocker is an encryption tool used to encrypt data on hard drives. Bitlocker-2-Go takes that an extra step and allows you to encrypt files on a portable device and decrypt them on another computer as long as you have password.
If you intend to do the upgrade to Windows 10 check first with your PC manufacturer to see if the hardware has Windows 10 driver support, or have your IT pro check it out for you. Here is a table that shows the upgrades to the different versions of Windows 7 and 8.1.
|Windows 7 & 8.1 Versions
||Windows 10 Versions
|7 Starter, Home, Home Premium
||Windows 10 Home
|Windows 7 Pro, Ultimate
||Windows 10 Pro
|Windows 8.1 Phone
||Windows 10 Mobile
||Windows 10 Home
|Windows 8.1 Pro & Pro for Students
||Windows 10 Pro
As you can see, Microsoft has consolidated the number of Windows versions down even further since Windows 8. This makes buying and licensing Windows so much easier. For Windows Enterprise users the upgrade is covered by your Software Assurance License if you have one and the upgrade path takes you from Windows 7 or 8.1 Enterprise to windows 10 Enterprise.
I am really looking forward to my turn to update to Windows 10 and begin checking out all the new features. I am really excited to get the update on my Surface Pro 3 which I think is about the best tablet on the market today, competing directly with the iPad.