What is Windows 10?
Windows 10 is the latest version of Windows from the company that brought you hits such as Windows ME, Windows Vista, and Windows 8. OK, also Windows 7, calm down.
Wait, what happened to Windows 9?
Seven ate nine (sorry about that). Remember how Microsoft totally — there is no delicate way to say this — botched up Windows 8? They ripped out the Start menu that had existed in Windows since day one, they made apps launch fullscreen by default, and they damn near made Windows unsuable if you didn’t have a touchscreen.
Windows 8 was an ungodly mess and even a belated update, which Microsoft halfheartedly titled Windows 8.1, wasn’t enough to fix the damage.
And so, Windows 10. The new name is Microsoft’s clever little marketing ploy to not only distance the operating system as much as possible from its predecessor but also make it seem like it’s such a huge update that it warrants an entire version number skip.
Well, does it?
Actually, it does. Windows 10 not only fixes everything that Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 screwed up for people who used computers with regular keyboards and mice (read: everyone), it adds a ton of spit and polish to boot.
If you upgrade from Windows 7, you should feel right at home — not only is the Start menu exactly where you would expect it to be, it’s actually nicer and way faster; there’s built-in voice recognition by way of Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri; there’s even multiple desktops like Apple’s OS X and a nifty little Action Center that acts like the Notification shade on your smartphone and gives you a peek at all your notifications and settings at a glance.
Upgrading to Windows 10 from Windows 8 or 8.1 is like diving into a pool of cool water after sitting in a dry sauna for about a month. You’ll find that the Start menu is BACK, everything’s much faster, and the goddamn Shut Down button is finally in a logical place — at the bottom of the Start menu (I know, I know, you still have to press ‘Start’ to turn off your computer, but whatever).
Can my PC run it?
Does your PC run Windows 7? If it does, it will run Windows 10 just fine. We’re past the point where a new version of Windows meant you had to upgrade your entire computer.
If you want some specifics, here are the official specs that Microsoft recommends:
1Ghz processor or faster, 1 GB RAM (for 32-bit Windows 10, 2GB for 64-bit), 20 GB of hard disk space, DirectX 9 or later graphicds cards, and a display of at least 1024 x 600 resolution.
I’m sold. How can I get it?
Windows 10 is just a download away. For free. Seriously. As long as you’re running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, you’re eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 for a year. Why? Why not?
The truth is that the world is moving away from paying thousands of rupees for operating systems. We are all used to smartphones periodically pinging with software updates, which we simply install without thinking — and without shelling out more money than we already paid up for the phone. When Apple released OS X Mavericks, its desktop operating system for the Mac in 2013, it made it free, and every version of OS X released ever since has been gratis. Apple can afford to do this because it more than makes up for it on hardware sales.
Microsoft, on the other hand, still makes a considerable amount of money selling Windows. Its solution? Give Windows 10 away for free to general consumers but charge businesses to license Windows as always. Microsoft also makes a ton of money on Office and dozens of enterprise products that millions of businesses around the world depend on, so don’t worry, this doesn’t mean making Windows 10 free is a last-ditch attempt to survive or anything. Microsoft is simply keeping up with the trend.
Wait, so if I build a new PC from scratch, I can simply download and install Windows 10 on it, right?
Hold on, there. We did say that users of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 are eligible for a free upgrade. If you run anything else — Windows XP, Windows Vista, or have a completely blank hard drive — you’ll need to pay up for your copy of Windows 10 (updates to the operating system will still be free going forward).
How much will that cost you? $119 for Windows 10 Home and $199 for Windows 10 Professional. Microsoft still hasn’t announced India pricing, but expect it to be the approximate rupee equivalent of these amounts.