We’ve been fielding a lot of questions about Windows 10. Some of them we’ve got answers for and for others, it’s just too soon to know.  But here’s a quick overview of what we know so far.

1.  It’s a free upgrade.  You will be able to upgrade your Windows 7 and 8.1 devices to Windows 10 for no additional charge.  Yep, they are going the way of Mac and offering free operating system upgrades.  The catch is that the upgrades will need to be done within a year of the release of Windows 10.  What I can’t tell you yet is if this will be a service-pack type upgrade like going from Windows 8 to 8.1  where your files remain intact or if it’s going to require you to back up all your important files and do a clean install of the new operating system. And in case you were wondering, Microsoft says the upgrade is good for the life of the device, so don’t expect a catch where you have to pay later.

windows10announcecrop

2. It’ll be available in its final version to the public sometime in 2015, probably during the summer.  No exact date yet on when you can do that upgrade. If you’d like to try out a preview version of Windows 10, you can. But I’d only suggest this for the technically savvy and I would consider running it in a virtual machine or as part of a dual boot. Remember, they are still working the kinks out of the system. Click here to learn about the technical preview.

3. The Start Menu is back! The much-missed Windows start menu is back, but they are also keeping live tiles from Windows 8 as well. You’ll be able to customize the Start Menu to use live tiles for apps if you choose and control the content of the start menu.You can also ditch the live tiles all together and return to the classic Start Menu look.

Windows10start1

You can even turn your start menu into a full-sized start page if you choose.

Windows10start2

4. There’s a virtual assistant called Cortana.  You can simply say or type what you’d like to search and Cortana will perform the task for you.  Cortana will open programs at your voice command and even allow you to dictate and send e-mails. Plus, if you choose, Cortana will use a feature called Notebook to compile information about you and the things you’re interested in to better help you with your searches and give you alerts to things like weather.

cortanainterface

5. A brand new browser! It’s called Project Spartan and Cortana is integrated into the browser to help with better searching. You’ll also be able to use a stylus or your finger to make notes on web pages with Spartan on an touch screen device and easily share pages or portions of pages.  Microsoft says Internet Explorer will still be available.

spartan

Questions I don’t have the answer to yet:

The exact date the Windows 10 upgrade will be available.

Which Windows 7 programs will work with Windows 10 or will all Windows 8 programs be compatible.

If Windows 10 will be an update or a clean install.

What the exact specs are for a PC to run Windows 10.

~ Cynthia