Are you ready for Windows 10?

If you are using Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 you may have noticed a new icon on the task bar in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

It’s a little Windows icon and hovering over it reveals the words “Get Windows 10.”

No, don’t worry. The world is not going to come to an end if you click on that new icon. Tomorrow the sun will still come up as has always done and your computer will not explode.

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Instead clicking on the new icon opens a program which tells you about Windows 10 and prompts you to reserve a copy. It isn’t available until the July 29th 2015, so this is Microsoft’s way of informing its customers (you and me) of the impending upgrade.

Oh and they want you to know that it’s free for the first year, meaning anyone with a valid Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 licence can install it for free. After the first year, you will need to pay to upgrade.

Whenever a new version of Windows is released, there is always a concern about compatibility with existing hardware and software. Historically Microsoft have made available a program that scans your machine and gives you the low down on what will and what will not work.

Well, it’s a bit simpler now. Rather than trundling off to a website, downloading a tool, installing said tool, running the tool and waiting for the results, it is all handled from within the new app available in the task bar. Just click on the ham burger (that’s the name given to the three horizontal lines in the top left corner of the app) to expand the menu. Near the bottom click on “Check your PC.” It will tell you exactly where you may encounter problems if you choose to upgrade, whether it be with a particular piece of software or with hardware that isn’t currently supported in Windows 10.

If you click on the reserve button by accident, don’t worry. It will tell you that on the 29th of July the software will become available and will automatically download and prompt you to install. You can cancel the reservation if you have - erm - reservations.

So what can you expect on the big day? Well, I am guessing the download may take a while. Microsoft Windows is still the most commonly used desktop operating system in the world, with millions of users of versions 7, 8 and 8.1. Even if only a small percentage of those users decide to upgrade straight away, that’s still going to be a lot of downloads and who wouldn’t pass up a free upgrade anyway? Even Microsoft’s servers may struggle with the demand.

Thank goodness you will have a year to download and install the upgrade.