Windows 10 is just around the corner

In just a few days, on July 29, Microsoft will begin the public rollout of Windows 10 in 190 countries. If you want to upgrade your desktop or laptop computer, it’s a free upgrade in specific circumstances. Lifehacker has a simple flowchart that makes it quite easy to see if you qualify.

Windows 10 upgrade flowchart

The only difference to this chart is that Windows 8 won’t get you the free upgrade but Windows 8.1 will. According to Microsoft:

The only requirements are that a) your device is compatible, and b) you’re running genuine Windows 7 Service Pack 1 (SP1) or Windows 8.1 (Update).

Windows 10 is designed to run on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs. That means your device is likely compatible and will run Windows 10.

See the full specifications here.

You don’t have to get the upgrade immediately if you don’t want to – you’ll have a year from July 29 to get it for free. Otherwise you’ll have to buy a license just as you have had to do with previous versions of Windows. What’s different this time is the free upgrade offer.

Once you have upgraded your computer to Windows 10, you’ll be able to create an install disk on a flash drive that will let you do a fresh install from scratch if you wish to. Microsoft says such an install disk is yours to keep for free as well.

Starting a few months ago, you may have seen a popup window on your desktop saying that you could reserve a free copy of Windows 10 upgrade that would be available to you from July 29. If you accepted that, you’ll have a little Windows icon in your system tray.

You’ll also have that confirmed in the Windows Update section of Control Panel in Windows 7 or 8.1.

Windows 10 upgrade reserved

And what about editions? What ‘version’ of Windows 10 will you get?

Microsoft explains it:

Windows 10 upgrade editions

Note the small print – the free upgrade offer does not apply to enterprise-edition customers (that’s typically large companies) who will have different offers.

So what can you expect with the Windows 10 upgrade? How easy will it be to install? What issues might arise?

If you think about it, this is quite an exercise. Imagine the thousands if not millions of different configurations of computers around the world, a fair number of which will have some issue or another. Some won’t have up-to-date video drivers perhaps. Or maybe a niggling problem in Windows 7 the user never got around to fixing. It will be amazing if everyone’s upgrades go 100 percent smoothly.

Yet I think you can expect a pretty good experience if you’re prepared. Being so isn’t difficult:

  1. Make sure your current qualifying Windows version is legal and as up-to-date as it can be via Windows Update. Best thing is to ensure it’s configured for automatic updates and let it do its work for a few days.
  2. When you do get a notification that Windows 10 is ready to install, close every single program you might have running so that your PC can devote all its resources to the Windows 10 upgrade process from the start of it.
  3. Keep all the peripherals you use – printer, mouse, webcam, multiple monitors, etc – connected so that Windows can see all those devices and migrate settings as required. And of course, ensure your PC is connected to the internet.

As a member of Microsoft’s Windows Insider programme, I’ve been running beta versions of Windows 10 for the past eight months or so. The latest beta build 10240 released to Insiders about ten days ago is as flawless an upgrade as it got for a beta. It suggests quite clearly that you should expect a flawless upgrade experience, all else being equal.

Indeed, some industry journals are saying that 10240 is the RTM version of Windows 10. Maybe it is; my thought was that it definitely has the look and feel of finished software, as I noted in a post to the Insider community forum on July 16 (if you’re an Insider, you can read it in full):

[…] 10166 was a really good update in terms of overall polish, reliability of operation, looking like a final. Hard to add more to that but 10240 looks even better. It has a definite look of final, release-version software. For the first time, a terms of use text appears along with a screen explaining some of the features in Windows 10, eg, Edge browser.

Either way, Windows 10 is almost upon us so be sure you’re ready. I think Windows 10 is the best Windows yet, even better than 7.

See also:

  • Sean Hollister writes about his upgrade experiences in Gizmodo, a post a day (here’s Day 1 and Day 2). Very much worth reading.
  • When should businesses upgrade to Windows 10? ZDNet has insights from industry experts.

Windows 10 shows the scale of Microsoft’s ambition

Windows 10 login

On July 29 – in just over two weeks’ time – Microsoft will begin the formal roll-out of Windows 10, the new edition of the Windows operating system for PCs and tablets (and Windows phones). It’s been the subject of a comprehensive beta-testing programme by around five million people since the programme was launched at the end of September 2014.

I’ve been part of this programme as a Windows Insider since last October, running the incremental builds of ‘Windows 10 Insider Preview’ as they become available on a couple of different computers, and providing feedback. It’s been a stimulating and most interesting experience so far; a few comments on that in a minute.

So starting on July 29, if your PC currently runs Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 you will be able to get Windows 10 at no cost by taking advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer. If you’ve recently purchased a new PC running Windows 8.1, the Windows 10 upgrade should also be available to you at no cost and many retail stores may upgrade your new device for you.

Windows 10 is a huge deployment – Microsoft is rolling it out in 190 countries and in 111 languages. According to Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s man in charge of Windows 10, the launch will happen in waves starting with the Windows Insiders:

Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders. From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users. Soon, we will give a build of Windows 10 to our OEM partners so they can start imaging new devices with Windows 10. Soon after, we will distribute a build of Windows 10 to retailers all over the world, so they can assist their customers with upgrades of newly purchased devices that were originally imaged with Windows 8.1.

Now, here’s where things differ from every release of Windows that’s happened before.

In a presentation at the 2015 Microsoft Build developers conference in April, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella spoke a bit about Windows 10, including these comments that provide some clear indicators on this version of Windows, its development, its release and its support that are quite different to what has gone before:

Windows 10 is not just another release of Windows, it’s a new generation of Windows. It is a very different Windows in terms of how we deliver it. It’s a service.

WaaS – Windows as a service. Not an attractive-sounding moniker but maybe something to get used to when you look at the global roll-out starting in a few weeks.

At the same event, Myserson said:

Our goal is that within two to three years of Windows 10’s release there will be 1 billion devices running Windows 10.

Those devices are not only the usual suspects (PCs, tablets, Windows phones) but also Xbox One, Surface Hub, HoloLens, bank ATMs, medical devices, and more.

With ambition at such scale, there’s no way you could sustain the physical manufacturing and distribution models of the past century. And something else to think about – how to persuade everyone on Windows 7 to move up to Windows 10.

Windows 7 domination

Free will help. But it will need a lot more than just that. I think word of mouth will help. Think of five million Windows Insiders and their opinions.

Looking at how previous versions of Windows have been produced and distributed, at end-user pricing that produced significant revenue over the years, Microsoft has been a discrete manufacturer where the product (mass-produced DVDs containing software, plus the packaging, etc) is manufactured and distributed through a supply chain to points of consumer sale – physical retailers, online shops, etc.

Now it’s about giving the software away at zero financial cost to consumers, wholly digital distribution, online support, online updating… these are the foundations for a new Windows ecosystem that will also offer developers an environment that’s eminently attractive, plus outlets in the shape of Windows Stores that will offer software created by those developers that work on any device Windows 10 runs on, making it easy for consumers to find (and pay) for the Windows 10 apps they want.

A familiar set-up if you think of how Apple and Google operate in their respective iOS and Android spaces.

In fact, that’s the landscape now – always-on devices, always connected online, able to automatically receive updates and new software on demand from online stores via a network connection typically wifi or cellular no matter where you are in the world.

Circling back to Windows 10 and my experiences with pre-release builds as a Windows Insider, my overall impression with the latest build I’m running (10166) is of a product that is exceedingly polished for a beta as I’d expect in a close-to-release version. I have it installed on a separate drive in a long-in-the-tooth Dell XPS desktop machine running Windows 7 SP1  with a 28-inch non-touch monitor; and as an upgrade to Windows 8.1 in a Fujitsu Stylistic Q704, one of the latest examples of an ultrabook with not only a touch screen but also the transformational aspect of separating the screen from a dock or keyboard to become a tablet.

In both cases, Windows 10 works out of the digital box, as it were – while early builds were understandably flaky at times (occasional system crashes, some native Windows 10 programs not working properly or at all), the last four builds in recent months have been almost flawless.

The Fujitsu machine in particular works exceptionally well, as if Windows 10 were designed precisely for a device like this (er…). It beats Windows 8.1 hands down in usability, intuitiveness, confidence and reliability. (I see Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 as you’d see Windows Vista to Windows 7.) And the venerable Dell works equally well running Windows 10.

None of my software that works on Windows 7 and upwards – and I have a lot of software – crashed or didn’t run on either device running Windows 10. Updating the operating system is transparent, behind the scenes and works.

In my book, all that makes Windows 10 an easy decision.

The new image of Microsoft

microsoftlogo-Aug2012

Microsoft is changing its logo to the one you see above, the first change to its corporate and brand logo since 1987.

In explaining the new look, Jeff Hansen, Microsoft’s General Manager Brand Strategy, says the company’s wave of new product releases coming this year – notably the new Windows 8 operating system, currently in release preview – “represents a new era for Microsoft, so our logo should evolve to visually accentuate this new beginning.”

[…] The logo has two components: the logotype and the symbol. For the logotype, we are using the Segoe font which is the same font we use in our products as well as our marketing communications. The symbol is important in a world of digital motion (as demonstrated in the video.) The symbol’s squares of color are intended to express the company’s diverse portfolio of products.

It’s certainly a radical departure from the stark black italicized logotype introduced in 1987

microsoftlogo-1987-2012

In comparing the two, the difference in how I perceive Microsoft from these typographic representations is equally stark, with the new suggesting a softer ‘feel’ to a company that is finding a new way for itself in a contemporary world that’s very different indeed to the one in which it had a dominant, almost exclusive, place in 1987.

Hence, I suppose, the aggressive look of that italic black text with the chink in the ‘o.’

I did like this opinion of the new logo quoted in a Bloomberg report:

[…] The new logo is meant “to show that this isn’t your father’s Microsoft, and there is something fresh, but also familiar,” said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst at market research firm Gartner Inc. It also helps to show Windows and Microsoft’s overall new design language, formerly known as Metro, are “relevant and aspirational to the market.”

Now that’s a contemporary look!

Related post:

I’d love to try the new Office Preview if I could get it installed

makeitsimpleyo

This concise comment on Microsoft’s Office Preview support forum says it all about the frustrations that many people including me have experienced in trying to install the free trial version of Office Customer Preview:

Hey Microsoft, make it simple yo……

Announced yesterday, Microsoft is making the trial universally available to anyone who cares to try it out and who has a suitable PC, and you’re in a country listed on your account page. Basically, any modern computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8 should be fine, even a netbook (details). Note you’ll need a Windows 7 edition at minimum to install this – neither Vista nor XP are supported.

It certainly looks the business with its three different editions:

    • Office 365 Home Premium – designed for families and consumers. This service also includes an additional 20 GB of SkyDrive storage and 60 minutes of Skype world minutes per month.
    • Office 365 Small Business Premium – designed for small businesses. This service also includes business-grade email, shared calendars, website tools and HD webconferencing.
    • Office 365 ProPlus – designed for enterprise customers who want advanced business capabilities and the flexibility to deploy and manage in the cloud.

CNET has a great hands-on review: Microsoft Office 2013: Everything you need to know (FAQ) (and there are many more already).

Great, I’m keen to kick the tyres, etc, so I logged in to my Windows Live account at the preview site last night and asked it to install away.

The installation was almost complete, according to the progress dialog, when up popped a window telling me I no longer had the required internet connection.

office13previewinstalllost

But I did! I was online. Clicking ‘Close’ terminated the installation.

I tried again. This time, a popup to tell me that “some sort of failure” had occurred.

office13previewinstallfailure

Really helpful, Microsoft, thanks. So I went to the control panel and did a repair. Then I tried again. Repeat all of the above.

This morning I tried one more time. This time, a popup to tell me it couldn’t start the program.

office13previewinstallerror

Luckily I have a lot of patience and was learning some interesting things about the new Office install look-and-feel and the informal wording of error messages.

But I decided to uninstall everything via the control panel and try again clean, as it were. Another error popup disabused me of that notion with a warning that I’d need to repair my existing Office 2010 installation if I did that.

office13previewinstallareyousure

So I didn’t do that! Then I got a normal-looking popup, ie, not the snappy new look of the new Office, telling me that “you don’t have a modern Windows operating system. You need Windows 7 or newer.”

officenewerversionrequired

Well, this Dell desktop I’m writing these words on is running Windows 7 Professional SP1.

I know this is beta software so I expect it to be less than 100% polished. But I don’t expect to run into this car crash trying to get it installed. Nor do many others if the forum is anything to go by.

As someone said:

Hey Microsoft, make it simple yo……

Touching Windows 8

windows8startIf you have an interest in PC software and, in particular, operating systems, you’ll probably remember the milestones in each consumer release of Microsoft Windows. You may have fond memories of some versions, eg, Windows XP. Others, like Windows Me, might bring back some hostile thoughts.

I have such memories from when I first used Windows back in the mists of time (it was Windows 2.0). Mostly, though, I like to recall ground-breaking moments such as the releases of Windows 3.1 (the version that introduced a new world of user experience), Windows 95 (bringing you genuine plug-and-play among its many innovations) and the current Windows 7 (getting the promise of the disappointing Windows Vista right).

As the hardware on which the software would run became ever more powerful, reliable and affordable, versions such as these changed the game in giving more people access to the tech tools that enabled them to be more productive, develop ideas and share them with others.

The forthcoming Windows 8  – to be released in 2012 – has a similar ground-breaking look about it, judging from a concept video released by Microsoft on June 1.

(If you don’t see the video embedded here, watch it at YouTube.)

This isn’t about look and feel so much as it is about touch and feel. What we’re increasingly accustomed to on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets in how we interact with such devices and what we experience from that interaction will be central to the Windows 8 experience, complementing the traditional expectation of interaction using keyboard and mouse.

Microsoft’s optimistic vision clearly shows a path many people will want to travel along:

[…] And this isn’t just about touch PCs. The new Windows experience will ultimately be powered by application and device developers around the world — one experience across a tremendous variety of PCs. The user interface and new apps will work with or without a keyboard and mouse on a broad range of screen sizes and pixel densities, from small slates to laptops, desktops, all-in-ones, and even classroom-sized displays. Hundreds of millions of PCs will run the new Windows 8 user interface. This breadth of hardware choice is unique to Windows and central to how we see Windows evolving.

It got me thinking about my wife’s desktop computer she bought in 2009 – an Acer Aspire Z5610 running Windows 7. It has a 23-inch touch screen. I always thought it was a bit ahead of its time. Looks like the promise of what that device can deliver may be fully realized in 2012.

Read more about Microsoft’s plans for Windows 8 at the Microsoft News Center.

Related posts:

Video: Installing Windows 7 beta

The public beta version of Windows 7 was released by Microsoft on January 9 to great enthusiasm by fans and anyone curious about what the next version of the Windows operating system would look like.

I tried to download the 2.4 gigabyte file, without success. Luckily a Microsoft Twitter buddy sent me the beta on DVD (thanks again, @Jas) and so I now have the 32-bit beta version installed on my Dell Dimension XPS 420 desktop computer as a dual-boot option alongside Windows Vista.

I will be getting to know Windows 7 beta during the coming weeks and will talk about my impressions of it over on Next, my tech blog. But for a starter, I recorded a sequence of videos when I installed the software on Saturday.

Part 1 – the sequence of what happened from the moment the computer booted the installer on the DVD up to the first reboot – is on YouTube.

Here is Part 2: just under 18 minutes of my thoughts and impressions on what I saw and experienced as a first run after the app was installed and went into its setup-completion routines.

It’s a bit dry – this is not an all-action video by any means – but you might find it helpful or useful if you’re thinking about trying the beta, either as a clean install, an upgrade or a dual-boot option.

(For a look at a range of apps running on Windows 7 beta – on a Macbook Air, incidentally – take a look at Chris Dalby’s video interview with Microsoft’s Steve Lamb who demo’d the beta last Friday at the Social Media Cafe in London.)

I’ve spent just a little bit of time so far with Windows 7 beta. It’s installed clean into a new partition on my PC’s drive C, so I have none of my favourite mainstream applications installed yet to try out with the beta.

The one app I have installed is a trial of the Norton 360 3.0 beta internet security product designed for Windows 7 that is one of the security products you see in the list of providers within Windows 7.

I have installed a few utilities and and run them with no issues, which is great. These all work in Windows 7 beta:

win7bsod17jan09 The only major issue I have encountered is a series of blue screens – what you see when a severe system error happens causing the computer to come to a sudden and complete halt – surrounding a device driver called tdx.sys.

Click on this image for a larger version where you can see the complete error texts.

From what I’ve been able to find out through online searching, this is something to do with either the anti-virus product, mapping a network drive, or both. Or maybe something else. Whatever it is, there’s a lot of online comment about it.

No doubt this will be addressed by Microsoft’s developers during the evolution of the beta programme. Meanwhile, I seem to have got rid of the blue screens by not mapping a network drive.

It’s something like this happening that brings home to you the inherent risks of playing with beta software. So I am glad that I have installed Windows 7 beta as a fresh install in a separate drive partition and not as the primary operating system for day-to-day use. Not yet.

More about Windows 7 beta on my tech blog in due course. Also see my Twitter stream: I’m twittering a lot about Windows 7!

Related post:

Get Windows 7 beta while you can