Microsoft Invites 'Insiders' to Preview Windows 10

The company's Windows Insider Program helps consumers and business IT professionals evaluate the new operating system.

Microsoft Windows 10 preview

Microsoft has released pre-release builds of Windows 10 ahead of the operating system's expected 2015 launch.

Beginning today, users can download Windows 10 Technical Preview, and the Enterprise edition, via the company's new Windows Insider Program. "As a member of the Windows Insider community, you will have an active role in helping us build Windows 10 and be among the first to see new stuff," said Microsoft spokesperson Brandon LeBlanc in an Oct. 1 blog post.

As with most pre-release software, early adopters may run into potential issues. "You will automatically receive new builds as we release them with the latest features we're experimenting with—and our freshest bugs," warned LeBlanc.

"Some of these features may not be fully 'baked'—meaning they may not work correctly as you are seeing these features as we work on them." Some features may never see the light of day, he added.

A key component of the Windows 10 Technical Preview is a robust feedback-gathering mechanism.

"You will be able to use the Windows Feedback app to report on any issues you encounter with the Windows 10 Technical Preview or tell us about something you like or dislike," said LeBlanc. The app allows users to weigh in on features and/or bugs through a guided app experience. On the community front, users "will be able to ask questions and talk with us and other Insiders through the Windows 10 Technical Preview Forum," he added.

According to Microsoft, PCs capable of running Windows 8.1 can handle Windows 10. The system requirements are as follows, according to a company FAQ:

--Processor: 1GHz or faster

--RAM: 1GB (32 bit) or 2GB (64 bit)

--Free hard disk space: 16GB

--Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver

--A Microsoft account and Internet access

The preview expires on April 15, 2015. On April 1, 2015, the software will begin alerting users that time is running out.

While generally not recommended with pre-release OSes, Windows 8, 8.1 and 7 users can upgrade to Windows 10 while keeping their settings, files and most applications. Those upgrading from Windows Vista will need to perform a clean install. Windows RT users are out of luck.

Upgraders are urged to be mindful of their language settings. "If you're running Windows 8.1, Windows 8 or Windows 7 and your system language isn't English, Chinese Simplified, or Brazilian Portuguese, you can only keep your personal files when you upgrade. You won't be able to keep your apps or Windows settings," cautioned Microsoft in the FAQ.

In addition, both Windows 10 Technical Preview and Windows 10 Technical Preview for Enterprise are self-updating. "Windows Update will be set to automatically install important updates as they become available. You won't be able to turn off automatic updates in Technical Preview, but you will be able to choose between a fast or slow update cadence," said Microsoft.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.