How To Get Windows 10 Right Now
Windows 10 has arrived, and for the most part, early adopters are giving it rave reviews. The Windows 8 annoyances are gone, things just seem to work, and many with older PCs say it runs faster after upgrading. If your free upgrade has not yet arrived, read on to learn how to jump-start the process, and how it worked on my aging laptop...
I Want My Windows 10, And I Want it Now!
July 29 was the official release date for Windows 10, but you may still be waiting for it to be delivered to your computer via the “Get Windows 10” app. That’s because Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 in cautious stages; first to expert participants in its beta test circle and then to larger groups of users. This staged rollout should minimize the impact of any glitches in the early iterations of Windows 10.
If you want to jump into Windows 10 right now, you can manually download it and upgrade your existing Windows 7 or 8.1 system. Go to Microsoft’s Download Windows 10 page to get started. But first, I have a few tips for you.
Use the “media creation tool” available on the Download page. It’s an app created especially for the Windows 10 upgrade process. It will download the Windows 10 ISO files and burn them to either a DVD or a USB flash drive with very little effort on your part.
I chose a 16 GB SanDisk Cruze USB drive, available at Walmart for $10. Windows 10’s setup files need at least 4 GB of formatted space. There are 4 GB USB drives out there, but that figure is unformatted capacity; buy an 8 GB drive, at least, to be sure you have enough space.
Several tech journalists have reported their hands-on experiences with Windows 10 upgrades, ranging from “easy as pie” to “nitpicking about insignificant glitches.” But invariably, their hardware is pretty new and upscale. I know many readers are not running the latest, high-end computers, so I decided to see how a Windows 10 upgrade would go on an older, middle-of-the-road system.
My Windows 10 Upgrade Experience
I dug up a vintage 2011 Acer Aspire 7560 laptop with the following modest specs: 64-bit 1.5 GHz quad-core AMD A series CPU; 4 GB of 1066 MHz DDR3 SDRAM; 5400 rpm, 500 GB hard drive; 1280x1024 pixels AMD Radeon HD 6520GM graphics processor; Windows 7 Home Premium SP1. This machine had a bunch of software on it, including Office 2010 and some obscure programs written for Windows XP. I wondered if the latter would run under Windows 10. I added a Lexmark X4850 multi-function printer, a discontinued model whose driver and management software hasn’t been updated by Lexmark since 2010.
After creating my Windows 10 USB installation drive, I switched to it and ran setup.exe. Then I waited an hour while Setup “checked” and “prepared” unspecified things, downloaded driver updates, etc. Finally, a screen popped up allowing me to set my language, country, keyboard style, etc. Then I ran into a bit of confusion.
The next screen asked for my Windows product ID. I had that ready, having read a couple of reviews that said it would be needed. But Windows 10 setup said several times, “That product ID didn’t work, try again.”
I wanted to abort the setup process and leave Windows 7 intact until I figured out what the problem was. But that’s not an option; there is no “cancel setup” button! I tried closing the setup program’s window; nope, it kept running in background. So I did a forced restart of the system. It rebooted into Setup again; then I really started to worry.
Rookie mistake: I didn’t unplug the USB drive before rebooting, so the laptop booted from the USB drive instead of my hard drive. Don’t do that! By the time you get to the “product ID” screen, Setup has already copied the Windows 10 installation files to your machine. When you reboot from your hard drive, Setup can continue as it should.
I still got the “product ID” request upon rebooting. Then I noticed, finally, the option to “skip” entering a product ID; that link is down in the left-hand lower corner of the screen in relatively tiny type. It would be nice if it was more prominent, Microsoft!
Skipping verification of product ID does NOT leave you with an unactivated copy of Windows 10 for which you will have to pay $199 down the line. The product ID that Setup requests is the Windows 10 product ID included with a new, retail purchase of Windows 10. Your old Windows product ID is unnecessary if you are upgrading; it would have been nice if that was made plain on the product ID screen.
After a total of three hours and a few reboots, I had a working Windows 10 desktop. But my Lexmark printer would not print, even though Windows 10 showed it as “ready.” Uninstalling and re-installing the antiquated driver, then rebooting, fixed that problem.
All of my software, even the old XP stuff written by amateurs, is running just fine. In fact, everything is running noticeably faster than it ever did under Windows 7, even after I optimized the old OS with Privazer and/or Advanced System Care. This performance gain alone is worth the time I spent upgrading.
Is There a Windows 10 UNDO Button?
If, after upgrading your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 systems to Windows 10, you do have a 30-day timeframe to "downgrade" your PC back to the previous version of Windows. Personally, I can't imagine wanting to go from Windows 10 to Windows 8.1. That would be like waking up from a nightmare to a beautiful sunny day, and then taking a sleep aid to resume the nightmare. I suppose one *might* want to return to Windows 7, on the off chance that you don't enjoy the increase in speed, security and features offered by Windows 10. But whatever the reason, there's a way to go back if absolutely necessary.
To start the downgrade, make sure you're plugged in -- the downgrade can take several hours -- and log into an admin account. From the Start Menu, click or tap “Settings” then “Update & security.” Choose the “Recovery” option, and then select “Go back to Windows 7” or “Go back to Windows 8.1.” Click “Get started”. You'll have to give a reason why you want to downgrade. Click “Next” twice and the rollback will begin.
As I said in an earlier article, the good news about Windows 10 is that pretty much everything people hated about Windows 8 is history. The beloved Start button is back, and the annoyances of the tiled/Metro/Modern interface are gone. Bottom line, if you dislike Windows 8, you will find Windows 10 a huge improvement. And if you like your Windows 7 setup, you'll enjoy a smooth transition to Windows 10, with very little learning curve.
Don’t hesitate to upgrade to Windows 10 just because your system is old and creaky. Windows 10 Setup will alert you if your hardware can’t handle the new OS. Upgrading to Windows 10 may be the “fountain of youth” for an old system.
Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 3 Aug 2015
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- How To Get Windows 10 Right Now (Posted: 3 Aug 2015)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved