There’s not much time left until Microsoft’s free Windows 10 offer draws to a close on July 29, so now’s the time to upgrade your PC before it’s too late and you have to pay

The upgrade is a relatively smooth experience, so you shouldn’t have any trouble. However, to make sure all goes without a hitch, you should ensure everything is in order, as listed below:


Back up your data

Before carrying out a major update such as this, it’s essential that you back up everything – photos, music, videos – anything that’s precious to you.

None of your personal files should be touched in the process, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.


Windows 10 Minimum requirements

Windows 10’s minimum requirements aren’t much different to what came before, so if your PC runs Windows 7 or 8.1 smoothly, you shouldn’t have any problems.

For the record, you’ll need a PC with at least:

Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update

1GHz processor

1GB  memory for Windows 10 32-bit; 2GB for 64-bit

16GB free hard disk space for Windows 10 32-bit; or 20GB for 64-bit

DirectX 9 (or later) compatible graphics card with WDDM 1.0 driver

800 x 600 resolution monitor

In short, if you're already running Windows 7 or 8.1 — which you need to qualify for the free upgrade — you should have no problems with Windows 10. Just bear in mind that not even Windows 7 will run that well with this minimum specification, though, so if the above list describes your PC, don’t expect Windows 10 to make it feel any faster.


Windows 10 compatibility

As with previous versions of Windows, Windows 10 won’t be compatible with all existing hardware and software. Most manufacturers should have released driver and software updates for their most recent products by now, but older hardware and software may never get updated and so won’t work with Windows 10.

How big a problem this is depends on the hardware and software itself. An incompatible web cam probably won’t cause too many sleepless nights, for example, but the same can’t be said for the payroll application that your small business depends on.


Check your PC with the GWX app

Windows 10 will remove any incompatible software as part of its installation, but it will warn you before doing so. Rather than trust to chance at this stage, however, it’s better to run a pre-check and then search for solutions before upgrading to Windows 10. The only way to run such a check is to go via Microsoft’s Get Windows 10 app — GWX.

You should see a notification in the Taskbar Notification Area if the GWX app is installed. If not, you’ll need to launch Windows Update - with Windows 7, look in the Optional updates section for update #KB3015583 in the Windows 7 section. Windows 8.1 users will find it as a Recommended Update.

Windows Update

Once this update is installed, you should soon see the Get Windows 10 notification in the Notification Area. Click the icon and, when the window opens, select Check your PC from the ‘hamburger’ menu (three lines) at the top left of the screen. You’ll need to make a note of any compatibility issues presented here and investigate solutions online for any that will prevent Windows 10 from being installed. 


Can’t see the GWX app?

If the GWX app refuses to appear on your PC, then it’s possible your PC may not be compatible with Windows 10.

You could try performing a clean installation of Windows 10 instead. Find out how to do this by clicking here.


Notable changes in Windows 10

Touchscreens: Although Windows 10 has reverted to the Desktop and Start menu model of Windows 7, the finger-friendly Windows 8.1 tablet interface is still there. This will kick in automatically on touchscreen computers when the keyboard is disconnected and can be activated manually on others via the Action Centre. It works best with touchscreens, but you can still use it with a mouse if you find yourself missing Windows 8.1.

Security: Like Windows 8.1, Windows 10 will also work best when you sign in with a free Microsoft account, rather than a simple username and password. Some features (such as Cortana) will only work when you sign in this way, but don’t worry about having to enter a long, secure password each time you want to use your PC. Windows 10 can use a PIN code for log-ins, which only works on the computer you initially created it on. This also makes it much more difficult for anyone to hack into your Microsoft account.



Read more in our article: Confused by user accounts on Windows 10? Local and Microsoft accounts explained.


What will I lose with Windows 10?

Windows Media Center

Windows 10 won’t remove any of your personal files as part of its installation, but it may remove the applications you need to open them if it finds them incompatible. Some built-in Windows features will also be removed as part of the upgrade – you can find a full list of the losses here.


Windows 10 installation

For steps on how to carry out the installation in full, watch our video guide below:


Are you going to upgrade to Windows 10 straightaway? Let us know in the Comments section below.