Windows 10: Nine things you need to know


Windows 10 has arrived. I’ve spent the last nine months running the Windows Technical iew on desktops, laptops and tablets, watching it evolve from interesting concept to my primary operating system.

If you’re new to the party and have questions, I’ve got some answers on the latest step for Windows.

Windows 10 See all of CNET’s Windows 10 coverage CNET’s one-stop shop for Windows 10 guides Windows 10 finally has a release date Which edition of Windows 10 will you get for free? When Windows 10 arrives, will your files and apps survive? 1. When can I upgrade? And how much will it cost?

Windows 10 launches tonight, July 28 at 9 p.m. PT. It’ll be free for one year, for anyone running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. If you’re running an earlier version of Windows or don’t upgrade by that time, you’ll be able to pick up Windows 10 Home for $119, and Windows 10 Pro for $199.

If you’ve reserved your free copy of Windows 10, you’ll get a notification when Windows 10 is ready to be installed, and have the option to schedule your installation for the most appropriate time for you.

2. I’ve got a desktop, a tablet, and am considering a Windows Phone. How will that work?

Microsoft’s ultimate goal is to make Windows 10 the sole operating system powering all of your devices, and Continuum is the driving force behind that. Windows 10 knows when you’re interacting with a keyboard and mouse or using a touchscreen and will react accordingly. If you’re using a keyboard and mouse, you’ll be treated to the standard Windows experience. If you’re on a tablet, you’ll encounter fullscreen apps and a finger-friendly Start menu. Pop off the keyboard on a two-in-one device like the Surface Pro 3 , and the interface will smoothly transform into tablet mode — if you want it to, of course.

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The situation on phones is a little different, as there will be a Windows 10 Mobile . But Microsoft has also shown Windows Phones that transform into PCs once a mouse and keyboard are connected — there’s no word on when we’ll see that capability on Windows Phones.

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Microsoft’s Cortana virtual assistant has also made the jump from phone to desktop . Say “Hey, Cortana” after turning on the voice recognition feature and you can bark commands at your PC, whether you’re searching for directions or checking the weather. Cortana is also able to send emails that you dictate to your contacts.

8. Is Internet Explorer still around?

Yes and no. Internet Explorer remains a part of Windows for compatibility reasons, but it’s been replaced by a brand-new browser, called Microsoft Edge . The browser will offer all of the amenities we’ve come to expect from modern browsers, including support for extensions, a reading mode that strips websites down to their bare essentials, and a new rendering engine that’s appreciably zippy while you’re browsing the Web.

And there are a few new tricks baked in, too. Microsoft’s Virtual Assistant Cortana will drop suggestions into the address bar as you search, and gather important details on business and restaurant websites into a sidebar. Click the Web Note button, and you’ll be able to annotate what you’re looking at and share your notes via email, or through OneNote.

9. Will Windows 10 run on my machine?

If your PC is only a few years old and you’re already running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you should be fine. The minimum requirements for Windows 10 are a 1GHz processor, at least 1GB of RAM, and 16GB of hard drive space.

Some older peripherals like USB floppy drives will run into trouble while you’re upgrading. Some software might not make the cut, including some apps that were pre-installed by your PC’s manufacturer. There are also two versions of Windows 10 — Windows 10 Home and Pro — and the version you get will vary, depending on the version of Windows 7 or 8 you’re running now. Microsoft’s Windows 10 Specifications site has the full details, so you can ensure that your PC or tablet makes the transition intact.