Can't wait to get your hands on the newest, greatest and last big upgrade for Microsoft's Windows operating system? Here are a few things to keep in mind for today's launch of Windows 10.
Is Windows 10 actually out today? Yep! Well, sort of. Windows 10 upgrade roll-outs start today, so if you were one of the first to reserve a place in the virtual Windows 10 upgrade queue, your download (about 3-4GB in size) will happen soon, or may have already happened. From that point, you'll be prompted by the installer itself -- the little icon in your taskbar -- to upgrade whenever you so choose. More info is available on Microsoft's official Windows 10 site.
Is it actually free? Yep, sure. If you have a desktop PC or laptop with a legit copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8, then your upgrade to Windows 10 is free for the next year. No hidden costs, no ongoing fees -- just a simple, clean, no-bullshit upgrade to the newest version of Windows, and the peace of mind of always having an up-to-date system from the day that you first boot into Windows 10. If you don't already have a Windows 7 or 8 key, then things get a little more complicated.
So how do I actually get it? If you already have an (up to date, activated, legit) Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1 desktop or laptop computer, you'll see a "Get Windows 10" icon in your PC's taskbar, next to the system clock and volume. That little Windows icon is an invitation to reserve your free upgrade of Windows 10 -- from there, you get your place in line for a Windows 10 download, and enter your email address for confirmation. From there, well, you wait, and get a notification when it's ready to install.
Is there a retail version that I can buy? It's highly likely that retail editions of Windows 10 will be available to purchase in Oz -- not for Windows 7 and 8 and 8.1 upgraders, since that's free, but for anyone upgrading an older system on Windows XP or Vista. Similarly, you should be able to buy a copy of Windows 10 alongside a new PC from a specialised computer retailer, or an OEM copy alongside a bunch of components for a new machine. We're checking the specifics on OEM copies of Win10 with Microsoft.
Are there different editions of Windows 10? Yes, there are actually seven different versions of Windows 10, but only two will be relevant to you as a consumer. There's Windows 10 Home, which is the mainstream made-for-everyone version with the standard featureset (Cortana, Microsoft's Edge browser, access to the Windows Store and so on), and a Windows 10 Pro version for businesses and power users (adding host Remote Desktop powers, support for 512GB RAM, Windows Update for Business, and so on).
Can I buy a Windows 10 PC or laptop today? Sure -- if you walk into a Dick Smith or JB Hi-Fi or Harvey Norman as of today, there will be computers on show that will have Windows 10 pre-installed. Most stores should have them ready. That is the simplest route into getting Windows 10 -- no installation, no upgrading, no mucking around required. You'll also see a lot of Windows 8.1 PCs still on shelves, and naturally all of those will be upgradeable to Windows 10 for free any time in the next year.
Will Aussie users of Windows 10 get to meet Cortana? Not straight away. Australia isn't a launch market for Cortana in Windows 10, which means we'll have to wait a while to get the digital voice assistant that takes your notes, sets calendar reminders and searches the 'net for you. At the moment, Cortana will be available as of tomorrow in the US, UK, China, France, Italy, Germany and Spain. If you're part of the Windows 10 Insider program, Cortana will be available "this winter", so within the next month.
Can I roll back to a previous version of Windows? Yep, if you don't like Windows 10, you're able to roll back to a previous version of Windows through a couple of different methods. The first and simplest is likely to create a full backup of your system before install with a good piece of PC backup software -- I'm a fan of Acronis True Image -- and then upgrade to Windows 10 with that safety net in place. Otherwise, you'll be able to roll-back to your previous version of Windows -- whether it's 7 or 8 -- for a month after you run the initial upgrade and install Windows 10.