How to Successfully Install the Windows 10 Free Upgrade

NEWS ANALYSIS: My upgrade to Windows 10 was surprisingly painless, but there are a few things to keep in mind as you go through the installation routine.

Windows 10 Install 2

My opportunity to take advantage of the free upgrade to Windows 10 happened when I least expected it. I had retired to an undisclosed location to work on my perpetually unfinished novel.

By Saturday afternoon I'd entered the advanced stages of procrastination, but Microsoft came to my rescue. A window opened in the lower right corner of my screen announcing that my Windows 10 upgrade was ready.

"You're good to go!" the message said. So, I did what any procrastinating writer would do, and clicked on the message. Thus began my trip down the path to the Microsoft Promised Land as I fired off the upgrade.

Actually, the first thing I did was answer a few questions, including whether I wanted to perform the upgrade immediately, or if I wanted to schedule it for some time later. I also told the upgrade app that I didn't want to do a clean install. If I'd chosen a clean install, then the Windows 10 installation would have started without saving my applications and settings, but most of my data would still stored on the machine.

Then I told the upgrade app that it should go ahead and do the deed. Microsoft warns you that the upgrade will take a while. Even though some of the upgrade files will have already been pre-positioned on your computer, there's still a lot of data, and there's a lot for the software to do, all while running on whatever hardware you're using.

In my case, the upgrade was taking place on a Lenovo ThinkPad T-430 laptop. I was surprised that it happened only a couple of days after the official release date because I'd only reserved the upgrade earlier that same week.

Microsoft estimated that my upgrade would take about an hour. In reality, it took a little longer, probably due to the fact that I was downloading Windows over a WiFi connection that may not have been the fastest on the planet.

I was also surprised that Windows 10 didn't ask me to uninstall any of my applications. Normally, I have an odd collection of network diagnostic and testing applications and some ham radio software installed in addition to typical apps as Microsoft Office and iTunes. Nevertheless, it chugged away, counting out its progress in percentages as it restarted several times.

At one point during the process, the installation software clearly had booted into Windows 10, and the progress counter became a circular display that indicated activity on something like a clock display.

Then it restarted again, and started off by saying "Hello" in Microsoft's distinctive sans-serif font on the screen. The process continued while it said it was setting a few things up, then a few final tweaks, and then it was done. I had the Windows 10 sign-in screen.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...