Go to the Microsoft Website starting on July 13, and the message is clear. Upgrade time is near, and the company wants you to think about upgrading everything about your world, not just your copy of Windows.
The Upgrade Your World link takes you to a list of nine extremely worthwhile charities, all of which deserve your support, and a chance to play a role in choosing a tenth charity.
Of course there’s more to it than that. There’s also a link to the Windows 10 free upgrade page that shows you how to register for the upgrades that will start arriving on July 29. That day, which apparently is World Upgrade Day, will see automatic upgrades to Windows 10 being sent to users in 190 countries, according to a blog entry by Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft.
For people who have registered with Microsoft—which probably includes most people with Windows 7 Pro as well as other versions of Windows 7, and for Windows 8.1—the upgrades will likely happen via Windows Update. The same is true of people who have been participating in the Windows Insider program, which means they’ve been testing the preview version for a while, perhaps since as long ago as fall of 2014.
But that won’t happen for everyone. If you have the Enterprise version of Windows, then the upgrade will come at the hands of your system administrator. Others may find that they’ll need to ask for physical media or to download an ISO file so they can create physical media. This will apply to computers that are incapable of connecting to the Internet or where connections aren’t up to supporting a download.
And then there are computers that just won’t run Windows 10. One of the machines that I tried to put into the Windows Insider program, a dual-Xeon HP workstation, can’t be upgraded because its processor can’t handle a couple of the instructions that Windows 10 uses.
That machine will likely live in the lab for a few months longer, but it’s a sure bet that it’s next in line for a brief trip to the county recycle center, or perhaps it’ll be next for a Linux upgrade.
Fortunately, most computers that run Windows 7 or 8.1 can run Windows 10. They don’t need to be later model machines. One of the PCs in the lab that’s running the preview version of Windows 10 is an old HP desktop computer equipped with an Intel Core Duo 32-bit processor circa 2005.
This computer is so old that it originally ran Windows Vista and yet the 32-bit version of Windows 10 works perfectly and seems to run faster than it did when it ran either Vista or Windows 7.
So let’s say you’re like many small businesses and you’ve been running Windows 7 on desktop and laptop machines for a while now.
Microsoft Starts Singing the Windows 10 Siren Song
You’ve seen the Windows logo that appeared in the System Tray in the lower right corner of you screen, but you haven’t done anything about it. What’s next?
Microsoft stores are gearing up to help with the transition to Windows 10 if you’re worried, and they’ll help with migrating applications and data if you want to upgrade your hardware as well as Windows. In addition, Microsoft is working with retailers, ranging from Best Buy to Walmart, to set up programs to help make the switch.
If you’ve seen that logo in the corner of your screen and you have registered for the upgrade, one of two things will happen on or around July 29. The first is that Windows Update will download Windows 10, run the update and you’ll be greeted with the new operating system ready to boot up at some point soon after.
Or the Windows Update event will happen and the upgrade will fail. The reason for the failure will be available through Windows Update (which is how I found that one of my computers won’t run Windows 10).
The reason for failure may be incompatible hardware such as a video card that you can swap out or it may be a processor that won’t work as it was in my case. If it’s something as simple as a video card, try replacing it. Otherwise, eventually it’ll mean a new computer if you want to work with Windows 10 or an upgrade to some other operating system.
If it turns out that your computer will run Windows 10, then it seems likely that your installed applications will also run. So far, everything I’ve had installed on a computer that I’ve upgraded to Windows 10, including some not-very-mainstream applications I use for network testing, have run as intended. A few, including a ham radio control program from RT Systems, now run better on Windows 10 than they did on Windows 7.
My suggestion is that you find a couple of computers that are currently running Windows 7 or 8.1, and which have the applications you use commonly installed and download the preview version of Windows 10 now to confirm that everything works. Then use that experience to help with the inevitable learning curve when Windows 10 arrives for real in three weeks or so.
By getting ahead of the official upgrade, you’ll be able to anticipate most questions (and maybe send out an email to help your acquaintances seeking advice). You’ll also be able to confirm that everything works or figure out a solution if it doesn’t.
The advantage for companies with desktop versions of Windows is that the experience isn’t all that mysterious; you’ll still have most of the things you’re used to and they’ll be in mostly the same places. It’s probably the least painful OS upgrade I’ve seen so far, and that’s something to look forward to.