For those who aren't aware, Windows 10 free upgrade offer for Windows 7 and 8 users ends July 29 (this Friday). So far, Microsoft didn't mention any extension on the offer.
Sadly, August 2nd is when the Anniversary Update will be released for Windows 10, and not during the upgrade offer. The release will be done in waves, so some people should have it in a week or two after August 2nd. The Anniversary Update brings excessive amount of polish to the OS, and a variety of new features. I'll share more details when the times comes. So for those who had issues with Windows 10 before, might want to give that version a try.
Windows 10 brings new features to everyone, wether you are a gamer, a developer, or do a lot of multi-tasking for your work.
Windows 10 beings Windows 8 and 7 worlds together, with the ability to switch between modes based on your device. For example, tablets running Windows 10 will have, by default (can be changed from the settings panel), Windows 8 style start screen, convertible system will switch between Windows 7 style and Windows 8 style based if you are setup as a laptop or tablet automatically (again, this behavior can be disabled and be overwritten).
In addition to this, Windows 10 brings:
- 2x2 window snapping, so each corner of your screen you can have a window snapped. Simply drag a window to a corner instead of side, and it will snap on the corner.
Here is a picture showing 2 window snapped on the corner on the right side, and on the left just a normal side snapped window.
In addition, if you have 2 window snapped side-by-side like Windows 7/8 style, as you scale the one window larger, the other window shrinks automatically.
- Command line window now support standard control for copy-paste, and selection. In addition, you can make the window semi-transparent, and you can scale the window as you want. You are no longer stuck to a fixed size. While you might not use the command line often, it is nice when you try to execute code to fix something with your system. The same applies to the PowerShell window.
- Virtual Desktop. A feature asked a lot and finally implemented natively (and not just a set of APIs that has been there since the early days of Windows, and you had to go with third party software solutions which used them to offer you this ability (with the exception of Windows XP, where you had a PowerToy from Microsoft, that very few knew about that gave you this ability, although not as nice as Windows 10 approach). Using the Task Switch button (the 3 squares button next to the search box) or Win+Tab keyboard combination to add/remove or switch to a virtual desktop.
- The Environment Variable panel also got updated. For devs this is a huge things, or even for IT when it comes to need to setup something manually, or fix a not working properly software or system, and you need to change something in there.
In previous version of Windows, when you accessed the environmental variable panel, and edited a variable value, you had this:
This small non-scalable box, with this massive list of entries separated by semicolons ( ; ), and was just a pain to check for everything is correct, or if something is missing, or add something that needs to be in a particular order.
You have this nice panel that pop-ups where you can see all the values of a selected variable, where you can move items up, down to set their orders, and easily add/remove an entry.
- Action Center. Windows 10 now has an action center where you can quickly see notifications, and access to settings, like turn on/off bluetooth, open OneNote (comes with Windows 10), connect to a Miracast or Intel WiDi compatible device, switch between tablet mode or not manually, connect to your VPN or not, engage Quite Hours, which turns off all notifications. This feature comes more into life with Windows 10 Anniversary Update, where if you can see your phone (iPhone, Android or Windows 10 Mobile) notifications such as low battery status, missed calls, etc. and if you are on Android or Windows 10 Mobile, you can get your SMS/MMS on your desktop, and your can use your system to reply to them, or start a new conversation. Great if you plan to type a long message which might be a pain to do on a touch screen, not to mention you don't need to check your phone every now and then.
- More interestingly for users here is the new touchpad gestures for laptops. If your laptop features a what is called: "Precision touchpad". Configurable in the Settings panel under Windows 10, by default, if you have a laptop that features Microsoft precision touchpad specification, it can support these new multi-touch gestures:
3 finger swipe up allows you to access to the task view, to switch between apps or virtual desktop.
3 finger tab engages Cortana, or can be configured to show the Action Center.
3 finger swipe on the sides, allows you to do an Alt+Tab action, and switch back/forth between apps.
3 finger downwards shows the desktop, and going up restores all windows.
- XBox One streaming. Got an XBox One? You can now stream your XBox One games to your PC or laptop. Plug an XBox controller, and you are off ready to play where you want in your home.
- Record game footage or software. Hit Win+G at any time, and you'll have the XBox Game Recorder bar appear. You can take a screen shot, or you can record your game with audio in high or low quality, up to you. The XBox app can also help you upload your footage on your social media site or friends that are on XBox Messaging (you don't need an XBox One to use this feature. They just need Windows 10).
No need any other software to do this. You can also trim your footage down. And like the XBox One, you can have it automatically record contentiously, and you when something you see you want to share, you can crop that segment. (You can access up to 2h of your game session).
All options are found under the XBox app > Settings > Game DVR. And yes, you can have it record your mic as well.
- Schedule a restart upon needed Windows Update. You can set Windows 10 to schedule a time where it is safe to restart the system if it needs to to complete a Windows Update. You can also set Windows 10 to notify you when a restart is needed. You can find this set of options under Start > Settings > Update & Security > Windows Update.
Pro edition users gets the ability to differ updates up to 3 months as well, allowing one to install updates manually when they have time (up to 3 months).
- File History. While not new to Windows 10, but rather Windows 8. This feature was improved a bit. This features allows you to keep in memory the bits that differ between each versions of your files, so that you can go back in time to them, including if you delete a file or folder a while back, and you want it again. This feature is also great as a potential recovery from a randsomeware attack that encrypted all your data, as you can just bring it all back in time. Before, under Windows 8, you needed a drive accessible via network or is an external one. Now, you can gave an internal drive. As it keep only the bit that differs, it doesn't do full file backups, so your 1TB HDD won't fill up in seconds. In addition, if you re-install your system, you can resume the File History backup. Once re-enabled, Windows will detect the previous setup, and configure itself accordingly and resume the backup/recovery.
- Sync your settings and Edge favorite (if you use Edge) between your Windows 10 devices. If you use a Microsoft account tied Windows account, by default, you system personalization settings, including background, are sync between your systems using the same account. With OneDrive integration with the OS as well, this really helps you make your Windows 10 powered laptop/tablet an extension to your desktop, and not completely apart.
- Windows Hello. While finger print scanners on phones are amazing, on Windows any security feature has always been troublesome experience, as the OS didn't have a proper integration, so you have third party solution that comes in, but usually the work done is very lackluster, and hence why you have this bad, frustrating experience. And that is why Windows 10 introduces Windows Hello. Windows Hello, allows you to login to your system via fingerprint scanner, iris scanner (yes, and it works. The Lumia 950 / 950 XL phones has it), and 3D facial recognition. Of course, you need the hardware for it. But you can. in addition, Windows Hello has a a nice set of APIs to allow security encryption software to use it as well. As a demo of this technology, under the Anniversary Update of Windows 10, Edge amongst its many improvements, including extension support, and faster web browser, uses Windows Hello, so that supported sites can be logged in, not with a password, but with your fingerprint or iris, or facial recognition. And, if you wonder, before you panic, The website nor Microsoft have your finger print, or iris, or facial recognition data points. It is locally stored.
- DirectX 12, do I need to say more?
- FLAC and MKV support (does not support MKV DTS sadly, as of now)
- And more...
Once you upgrade to Windows 10 it is free for you to keep. What's the catch? Microsoft is changing its business model, a transition that will take time if successful. While Microsoft did say that "Windows 10 is the last Windows ever", this claim was said many times before... I don't know why manufactures in general always say this, or a variation of like "This console will last the next 6 years!". Nothing is for ever, and no one can predict the future. Personally, I believe that 3-4 years form now, if Microsoft is able to transition to a service company (like Google), Windows 11 will come out as free, like iOS and Android, and the company will make money through the Store, and services (Bing, Cortana, Store app/games/music/movie/and their dlc purchases, OneDrive, Office subscriptions), and build a much requested ecosystem, and not have things separated in worlds. Bringing together Desktop, Laptops, Tablets, Phones (recall SMS/MMS for Android, and Windows 10 Mobile devices coming up with the Anniversary Update), HoloLens, and XBox together, which is helped with the concept of Universal Apps. Apps that can run on any Windows 10 devices (XBox One, HoloLens, Phone (Windows 10 Mobile), Desktop, Laptop, Tablets). Just the App store itself, bring several billions to Google and Apple EACH, contentiously year over year.
Can you clean install Windows 10 instead of an Update?
Yes. Use Microsoft Media Creation Tool (click on "Download tool now" button on this page:), and run it. Select "For another computer" despite being the same computer. It will download Windows 10 ISO, and prepare your USB Flash drive (will format it, so expect all data in there to be lost), extract the ISO on your USB flash drive, and make it bootable. OR burn the ISO into a disk. You pick.
If you have Windows 7, and you had to disable UEFI (or/and enable CSM) to get Windows 7 running, this is a good time to enable UEFI and disable CSM (assuming your hardware is UEFI ready), and boot form disk or USB flash drive your Windows 10 setup, as Windows 10 (since Windows 8), is fully UEFI ready.
In the setup, select Custom install, and Windows 10 will ask you for a product key, click on "I don't have one", and once Windows 10 finish the setup, and starting for the first time, setup a Microsoft account or link your account with your Microsoft account, then go to Start > Settings > Update & Recovery > Activation, and enter your Windows 7 or 8 product key, and it will activate.
My system doesn't have Windows 10 drivers, can I still upgrade ?
Yes. Windows 7, and 8 drivers will work under Windows 10 just fine. Windows 10 is also pretty good at finding most drivers.
If I clean install, do I need to backup my data before, and re-install my software after?
Yes. A clean install involves formatting your C:\ drive. So everything will be gone in it. Be sure to backup all your stuff before starting the process. Even if you upgrade, it is best to backup your stuff in any case, in the event that your HDD or SSD decides it would be a fantastic time to fail on you.
If I choose to upgrade, what do I need to do?
Before starting, it is best to backup your stuff in the event that your HDD or SSD decides it would be a fantastic time to fail on you, or something screws up during the update process. In addition, you want to uninstall your anti-virus, anti-malware, and any other security software that you have installed. You don't want them to fire up during the upgrade process as they might think an attack is happening and break everything. Keep note that some software might be uninstalled by Windows 10 upgrade if Microsoft has identified them to cause problem during the upgrade process. One famous software is CPU-Z. Another thing to do, is to ensure that all your drivers are up-to-date. While, yes you'll be install Windows 10, some older drivers on select hardware manufactures, have been identified to get Windows 10 Upgrade process jam due a bug in them in not following the OS documentation to the letter, or a bug giving a strange behavior. All manufacture should have solved these issues by now.
Can I downgrade?
If you have upgraded Windows 7/8 to Windows 10, and not a clean install, yes you can downgrade. You have 30 days from the day you upgraded to downgrade. Your old Windows will be stored in a folder called "Windows.OLD" under C:\. As long as you don't delete that folder, you can downgrade. After 30 days, Windows 10 will assume that you are happy, and delete for you Windows.old folder. If you did a clean install of Windows 10, you can clean install Windows 7 or 8.
What edition will I get?
Windows 7: Starter, Home Basic, Home Premium ---> Windows 10 Home
Windows 7: Professional, Ultimate ---> Windows 10 Pro (there is no "Ultimate" edition of Windows 10)
Windows 8: Core/Home ---> Windows 10 Home
Windows 8: Pro ---> Windows 10 Pro
If you where under 32-bit Windows, you'll remain at 32-bit Windows 10. If your system is 64-bit compatible, you can clean install Windows 10 64-bit of the equivalent edition.
DVD Playback... is it there?
ONLY if you upgrade Windows 7 Home Premium or higher editions, or Windows 8 Pro + Media Center Pack specifically, you'll get on that system: Windows DVD Player.
If you clean install, you won't have it. Since Windows 8, Microsoft removed Media Center and DVD playback codec due to the very low usage of the codec and Media Center functionality.
If you want DVD playback support, here are some options:
- Free: Upgrade Windows 7 Home Premium or higher or Windows 8 + Media Center Pack to Windows 10, don't do a clean install.
- Free: Get a free software that can play DVDs, like VLC
- Paying: Get Windows DVD Player from the Windows 10 app Store. It is only 15$, and it follows you with your account. So all your system will have it. If you have multiple account on 1 system, you can link your account to the other account in the Store, and that other user will have all your apps, which means he/she will get DVD Player. The limit is of sharing is 10 system/accounts.
- Paying (expensive): Get a third party software solution. They are usually around 50$ for 1 PC.
Windows 7 for life!
Not a question. That is up to you. If you enjoy Windows 7 and want to stick with it, that is your decision. Keep in mind that much like Windows XP in the past, and similarly with an old iPhone or Android device, support will be cut, and that includes lack of support for software, and in Windows, lack of driver support for new hardware.
Article originally posted here:
Nuke Dev / Coder
Jan 12, 2012