Windows 10 - What You Need To Know

Windows 10 - What You Need To Know
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Get the scoop on Windows 10. New features, pricing, release dates, and how to upgrade for free.

• Technology: App / Software • Technology: Computer • Games & Software: Windows PC

UPDATE: Windows 10 is out now! See if it's right for you by reading our Windows 10 Review.

Thinking about upgrading to Windows 10? Here's everything you need to know about the new features that Windows 10 offers.

Top Windows 10 Features

Windows 10 will startup faster and have better performance compared to earlier versions. Windows 8 did a great job in the start-up speed category but things will get even better. This is great news for those upgrading as your existing hardware should be faster.

Microsoft Edge
Remember when we all used Microsoft's Internet Explorer? Then other browsers, like Google's excellent Chrome, popped up and were so much better. Well, Windows 10 offers a new browser named Edge that promises to be much better than Internet Explorer. In fact, it's pretty much on par with Chrome and Firefox now.

Start Menu
Microsoft removed the classic start menu in Windows 8 and the Internet complained. Well, they brought it back in Windows 10. The new start menu is more of a combination of the Windows 7 menu and some Live Tiles from Windows 8. This should allow those who are upgrading to adapt to the new operating system (OS).

Improved Interface
When Windows 8 introduced tablet mode, many desktop / laptop users didn't understand why. After all, why would I want one mode for a desktop and another for a tablet in my OS? Of course, if you had a product like the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 or 3 the interface switching worked well. Windows 10 will make things work better on both devices with apps that work better in desktop mode.

Fans of the Halo series on Xbox 360 and Xbox One know Cortana as the Artificial Intelligence character in the game. When it comes to Windows 10, Cortana is Microsoft's answer to Google Now, Apple's Siri, and Amazon's Echo #ad. According to Microsoft, Cortana is the "world's first truly personal digital assistant". Basically, Cortana is a piece of integrated software that will help you find things and remind you of events. You can type or talk to Cortana.

In addition to some integrated Xbox Live functions, the killer app here will be the ability to play Xbox One #ad games on your PC. It will require an Xbox One #ad to work and will allow you to stream a game from your console to your PC. Neat!

Windows Hello
Say goodbye to logging in with a password. On computers that support Windows Hello, you'll be able to login with your face, iris, or finger without typing in a password. It's all done with biometrics and offers instant recognition.

Automatic Updates
Yes, this is a good thing. With previous versions of Windows, the user could opt-in or opt-out of updates. Opting out would mean potential security issues. The same happens if you didn't choose to install an update. This is a big reason why older versions have so many virus and malware problems. Windows 10 forces updates on you so you're always up to date. We don't complain when our phones auto-update so why is an auto updating OS a bad thing?

Can I Run Windows 10?

If you're running Windows 7 or higher you are likely okay. For CPU you need a 1GHz or faster processor. On the RAM front you want at least 1GB for 32-bit and 2GB for 64-bit installs. It requires a DirectX 9 or later graphics card and a display of 1024x600 or higher. An Internet connection is also needed. These are pretty low specs so most computers made in the last few years exceed these.

How Do I Upgrade To Windows 10?

If you're running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 then you'll automatically get a free upgrade to Windows 10. The official release date is July 29, 2015 but that's when corporate customers will see the upgrade. Home users will start to see it roll-out to their machines in the following weeks.

What Will It Cost?

For those running Windows 7 or higher, the upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for the first year it is available. A free upgrade from Microsoft? It's true! If you're looking to buy a copy then expect to pay $119 for Home Edition #ad and $199 for Professional Edition #ad. Microsoft will even offer Windows 10 on USB drives, perfect for those without DVD drives. A download option will also be available for purchase.