How to upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1

Windows 10 is out the door and now it’s time to upgrade your Windows 8.1 PC. In this new how-to, we’ll go through the upgrade instructions to avoid issues during the installation process.

Upgrading to Windows 10

Windows 10 has released to the masses and millions of people around the world are already upgrading. This is perhaps the best version of Windows we’ve seen for quite some time, and even better, Microsoft is offering it as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs. As such, it’s once again time to upgrade.

In this guide we’ll go through the steps you need to follow to minimize the chances of issues during the upgrade process for a successful installation for those computers upgrading from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10.

The new version of Microsoft’s operating system is a special release, not only because there are many new features like Cortana arriving on the desktop, a new Start menu, Action Center, new security features, such as Windows Hello, and of course, Microsoft Edge, the new default web browser, but because the software giant is making Windows 10 a free upgrade for computers running a genuine version of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

Requirements to upgrade

As opposed to previous versions of the operating system, Microsoft is delivering Windows 10 through Windows Update, which makes the upgrade as easy as installing a regular update. However, before you can upgrade there are a few prerequisites you need to meet.

Here’re the Windows 10 minimum hardware requirements:

  • Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
  • RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
  • Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics Card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 1024×600

In addition, and more importantly, you need be running the latest version of the operating system, in the case Windows 8.1 Update, which Microsoft describes as KB2919355. If you don’t have this update already installed, you can download it here.

After you update the operating system to the latest version including with all the security updates and patches released by the company. You’ll notice in the notification center a new Windows icon, which is the “Get Windows 10” app. Click the Start button to launch the app, and click Reserve your free upgrade button.

The following steps will be entering your email address where you want Microsoft to contact you when Windows 10 is ready for you to install, then click Send confirmation, and you’ll be all set.

If you don’t see the “Get Windows 10” app, make sure that you install the updates KB3035583 and KB2952664.

Unlike previous versions, Microsoft is rolling out Windows 10 on gradually, which means that it will take some time until everyone gets the update.

Depending on when you reserve your copy and hardware, Windows 10 will be available to you within hours, days, or weeks. If your computer isn’t compatible, due to a hardware or software issue with the operating system, it could even take longer.

As such, it’s recommended you take the time to check your hardware and software to see if it’s compatible with Windows 10.

If you don’t know where to start, don’t worry. Microsoft is including a feature in the “Get Windows 10” app to check your computer for compatibility issues. Open the “Get Windows 10” app, click the hamburger button in the top-left corner, and from the menu click Check your PC to verify that your system is compatible.

Windows 10 compatibility check

Creating a full backup

Although, Microsoft has been improving the upgrade process with Windows 10, there are always chance that the upgrade will fail, and to avoid any problems, you should make sure to have a full backup of your system that you can use to roll back if anything happens. Luckily, Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 come with System Image Backup tool to create a backup of your entire computer.

Performing the upgrade

After everything is verify and ready to go, you’ll receive a pop-up notification from the “Get Windows 10” app.

Popup Windows 10 upgrade notification

Before going through the installation process, make sure to uninstall any security software, such as antivirus and firewall, any other software that isn’t compatible with Windows 10 or you don’t use. This will help to avoid any issues during the upgrade process.

When the upgrade is available to you, click the Windows icon in the notification center, click OK, let’s continue.

You free upgrade to Windows 10 is here!

The Window Setup will run some tests, you’ll need to Accept the license terms, and you’ll be given the option to “Schedule it for later” or “Start the upgrade now”.

Accepting the Windows 10 license agreement

Click the Start the upgrade now will begin the upgrade immediately, as such make sure you close all your work and apps before pushing the upgrade button.

Start the upgrade now

The upgrade process should take anywhere from 20-40 minutes depending on the internet connection, hardware, and other variables.

During the upgrade process you won’t be prompted to enter a product key, but you’ll be presented with the out-of-experience that you have to go through to configure the operating system to your needs.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to wait, you can upgrade to Windows 10 from Windows 8.1 manually by downloading the installation files from the Microsoft support site.

You only need to click the Download Tool Now (32-bit version) or (64-bit version) depending your system architecture, once the Windows 10 Setup appears, you’ll have the choice to “Upgrade the PC now” or “Create installation media for another PC”. For purpose of upgrade your computer to Windows 10, you will want to choose the “Upgrade the PC” option, then simply choose whether you want to keep your files and apps, and push the button to upgrade.

Note: Keep in mind that Microsoft recommends to upgrade using Windows Update, if you try to upgrade manually, there is a small chance that you’ll have problems trying to activate Windows 10.

Windows 10 upgrade using ISO file

After the installation completes, you’ll once again see your familiar desktop and every new feature included with Windows 10.

Now, remember to go to Windows Update in the Settings app to check for new updates, as Microsoft has already released the day one update and a week after launch another huge update has rolled out to resolve various issues in the operating system.

Additionally, make sure to go to Device Manager to check that every piece of hardware is install correctly on your system, reinstall your antivirus, and any other software you uninstall before the upgrade.

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