Windows 10: How To Upgrade, Download And Install The New Microsoft OS

Windows 10 is now out thanks to a public, proper launch. As we've discussed over the months and weeks leading into its roll out, it's actually rather good. But with all the talk of free versions and paid for versions, upgrade reservations and mandatory installations, you may be a little confused as to how best to get the new operating system onto your machine.

We've got you covered – going through the most common concerns from prospective Windows 10 users that we've heard, here's all you need to know to get going with Microsoft's latest and greatest.

I currently run Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 - How do I upgrade?

For users on Microsoft's most recent operating systems upgrading is the most straightforward. Assuming that you have all of your latest Windows Updates installed (including the crucial KB3035583) you should see a small Windows icon appear next to the clock on the bottom right of your screen. Hit this and it will launch the Windows 10 Update App.

In this app you can "reserve" your virtual copy of the new OS for free, and which will give you access to Microsoft. The app will download the update in the background, and then notify you once it is ready to go. It is as easy as that.

When upgrading - assuming you meet the system requirements - it will simply be a case of following the on-screen instructions. The upgrade app itself will check your system to make sure it is capable of running the new OS, and it will also warn you about software that won't work after upgrading.

The upgrade is set to go live on the 29th, though if you don't see the icon straight away don't panic, as it is likely that Microsoft will stagger the release to manage demand on its servers.

I'm currently on Windows XP or Vista. Can I upgrade?

Hopefully, yes! Though there will be a couple of hurdles. First, you should really check the system requirements; as you're on quite an old version of Windows, it suggests that your computer is quite old too. You'll need the following:

• 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 • 800 x 600 resolution monitor • You'll also need to upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 first. You can still buy Windows 8.1 in the Windows store online, but the good news is, if you shell out for this, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free after.

Can I do a clean install of Windows 10 rather than upgrade?

Hopefully, yes! If you'd rather start afresh then it will be possible to do a fresh install of Windows 10. Microsoft has said that all you'll need is your license key from the upgrade app in order make it work for free, without having to pay money for the privilege.

It isn't immediately clear exactly how this will work. To do a clean install you'll need a Windows 10 disk image ("ISO") burnt on to either a DVD or a USB stick, and will have to boot up your computer to run from the disk. What isn't clear is whether Microsoft will make the ISO immediately available or not, and how. For example, will the Windows 10 Upgrade app have a built-in facility to create a bootable disk, or will you need to download the ISO and figure out how to do it manually?

One option could be to buy a "retail" copy... see the next section for details.

I have a slow internet connection, do I have to download?

Microsoft has said that it will be selling "retail" copies of the new OS on both DVD and USB memory stick, which would solve the problem (and cost you). But these aren't expected to ship until at least August 30th, a whole month after everyone else gets Windows 10 to upgrade. The home version will cost $179 and the Pro version will cost somewhere in the region of $299 when it does launch.

I need the Business, Enterprise or Education version of Windows - how do I upgrade?

Windows 10's "Windows Volume Licensing" program came on stream this week, but despite the recent availability, you'll have to wait for your system administrator to roll out the update across your network. So don't expect to be playing with Windows 10 when you get into work later this week.

Can I block Windows 10 Updates or downgrade?

Yep. But be very careful. Our pals at TechRadar have revealed that Microsoft will be launching a tool that will let you manually stop specific Windows 10 updates. This could be useful if it means stopping an update that breaks your graphics card, but it also means that if you don't know what you're doing, your computer could be open to security vulnerabilities that haven't been patched. So proceed with caution.

Microsoft has also claimed that you'll be able to downgrade again to an older version of Windows if you don't like the changes, which could be useful if your computer can't really handle running Windows 10 after all.

Our newest offspring Gizmodo UK is gobbling up the news in a different timezone, so check them out if you need another Giz fix.


Comments

    This seems a bit out of date.

    If you would like to do a clean install, or you want to download it in one place and create a bootable USB, you can use this tool:
    http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install

    It will allow you to install straight onto the current machine (bypassing the need to wait for that little tray icon in 7 and 8.1) or create a bootable USB or ISO.

    When you start the upgrade process you should be asked whether you want to keep all your files & settings, just your files, or wipe it all and perform a clean installation.

      Tried to use this tool on our home tower last night. It spent four hours downloading Windows 10, then popped up with 'Something happened' at the end and quit. Bleurgh.

        Yeah, it's not the most descriptive of tools when something goes wrong. You can probably figure out what the error was if you're willing to go spelunking through the system event logs.

        This happened to me too, and I found the problem was the antivirus program. I disabled it and tried again and it worked.

        Fair enough—I daresay I'll give it another go later. Paradoxically, it was much easier drop an ISO from a fresh licence onto an external SSD in a Windows To Go configuration and use that with my MacBook.

      There are 2 different types of clean install.

      1, Upgrade from within an existing eligible Windows install and choose to "Keep Nothing".
      2. Install from a bootable USB or DVD created with the linked tool in the OP.

      I would encourage anyone contemplating a clean install to take option 1 and not 2. The first one will use your existing product key to activate automatically and instantly. Actually it creates a unique hashed key based on your motherboard and hard drive configuration and uploads that to M$. This is since Win10 comes with a generic pre-shared key and M$ are managing activations from the cloud.

      Taking option 2 requires that this unique key has already been uploaded to M$. So one way or another, you still have to take the "upgrade" path. Right now, M$ is massively overwhelmed with all the uptake of Win10. Which means many people are finding their new Option 2 install will have a lengthy delay to automatically activate. This isn't a massive deal as the OS is still usable but there are nags and some of the interface is crippled. This should be fixed in time, but not worth the hassle when Option 1 achieves near enough the same end product.

    Re the downgrading - you can roll back to your previous version of Windows for up to a month after you install Win 10. After that, it's apparently too late.

      I believe the one month time limit is for the easy in win10 way to downgrade (ie: just click a button and it's done) It's not confirmed but I would assume if you wanted to down grade later than that and had your win 7-8 or 8.1 Key you could just do a clean install with your original media.

    For users on Microsoft’s most recent operating systems upgrading is the most straightforward. Assuming that you have all of your latest Windows Updates installed (including the crucial KB3035583) you should see a small Windows icon appear next to the clock on the bottom right of your screen. Hit this and it will launch the Windows 10 Update App.

    That's great and all, but what if the icon never appeared?

      Just wait a little more. The icon's just popped up on my laplet.

      Ensure all windows updates have been applied. On a fresh install of Win8.1 they take aaaages to push through.

        I have Windows 7 and all updates are applied (auto updates are not turned on however, but I have all updates regardless). I'm starting to wonder whether you actually need auto updates turned on for it to pop up.

    1) Why is the post dated today, yet refers to the release date - 29th of July (4 days ago) - in future tense?

    2) For those looking for actually helpful information:

    Can I do a clean install of Windows 10 rather than upgrade?

    Yes! If you’d rather start afresh then it will be possible to do a clean install of Windows 10.
    Download the Win10 ISO or USB installer using http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install.
    BUT you WILL have to upgrade a version of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 to Windows 10 with the license key you intend to use first (I know, right!). This will then allow you to to do a clean install using that key.

    You're welcome.

    Can I do a clean install of Windows 10 rather than upgrade?

    Hopefully, yes! If you’d rather start afresh then it will be possible to do a fresh install of Windows 10. Microsoft has said that all you’ll need is your license key from the upgrade app in order make it work for free, without having to pay money for the privilege.

    The upgrade must be done before a clean install to activate the free upgrade licence first.

    Last edited 04/08/15 12:16 am

      Not true. If you use the media creation tool and do a clean install, it upgrades your key as part of that process.

        Are you sure? This is direct from Microsoft (http://windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows-10/media-creation-tool-install):

        How to perform a clean installation of Windows

        Warning

        If you want to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, you need to use the Upgrade this PC now option. If you haven't upgraded to Windows 10 yet and perform a clean installation, you'll need to enter a product key or buy a license in order to activate Windows 10.

        My understanding of a clean install is boot to the ISO, select the customised install option, nuke the partitions and start from a clean slate. According to MS (as per link above) this won't give you the free upgrade.

        It is possible to do a semi-clean upgrade by selecting upgrade and keep nothing, and get the free upgrade licence. However, that is not a true clean upgrade.

        I've also read elsewhere that the installation won’t be eligible for the free “Windows DVD Player” app offered to users of Windows Media Center if a clean install is performed.

        Last edited 04/08/15 1:39 pm

          I was talking about upgrade & Keep nothing. It's effectively a clean installation, it wipes everything that was there before. If you're talking a complete rebuild from scratch then yeah, you'd need to upgrade first.

    Yes works sweet. I used the windows media creation tool.

    I have the horrible Windows 8
    But it's also on a school bought laptop :\

    How will this be done?

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