Windows 10 (formerly known as Windows 9) is a personal computer operating system developed by Microsoft as part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. Officially unveiled in September 2014 following a brief demo at Build 2014, the operating system reached general availability beginning on July 29, 2015. It is the successor to Windows 8.1.

Windows 10 Version 1703 Screenshot

The Windows 10 Creators Update (version 1703) showing the Start menu and action center.


Before Windows 8.1 was released, there were many reports that claimed the existence of "Windows Threshold", a supposed OS that would be the successor to Windows 8. Nine months later on July 21, 2013, build 9795 was leaked. Screenshots showed the new Start Menu, almost the same as the one shown at Build 2013. Microsoft China also confirmed Windows 10 on September 2, 2013 on Weibo. Additionally, Build 9834 was leaked by sites WinFuture and ComputerBase. It will also include multiple desktops, to improve multitasking. Before Microsoft officially announced it, news reports referred to the operating system by several names, most notably Windows 9. Along with the announcement of Windows 10, Microsoft introduced the Windows Insider Program. The program is designed to allow people see the future of Windows and give feedback, introducing a public element to the development process. To aid in the receiving if feedback, Microsoft included a Windows Feedback app into the released builds of Windows 10. Build 9860 introduced a speed to receiving updates, along with an explanation as to how the Windows Insiders (as they've been called by Microsoft) get the builds. Since its unveiling in September 2014, Microsoft has pushed 15 builds officially through the Windows Insider Program: Build 9841, Build 9860, Build 9879, Build 9926, Build 10041, Build 10049, Build 10061, Build 10074, Build 10122, Build 10130, Build 10158, Build 10159, Build 10162, Build 10166 and Build 10240 (RTM). Additional builds, like Build 10051, were leaked and acknowledged by Microsoft, but were not officially released by Microsoft.


Start Menu in Windows 10 (Windows 10)

The Start Menu as it appears in early builds of Windows 10.

Microsoft has replaced the Start Menu screen with an updated "Start Menu" box similar to the one from Windows 7. The left side of the Start Menu resembles the left side of the XP style Start Menu, while the right side is a reduced version of the Windows 8 Start Menu. Windows 10 will include Virtual Desktops and a Notification Center, and has the ability to run apps in desktop windows. Leaked builds show an integration of Cortana, the personal assistant introduced in Windows Phone 8.1. Files for Cortana can also be found within current Windows 10 Builds. Animations have been improved for opening, maximizing, minimizing, and restoring down windows, as well as switching between virtual desktops. Current builds released to the public also suggest a new means of updating the operating system, as each build has been updated through a function within Windows Update rather than through clean installs. A feature showed off at the announcement presentation in September, named Continuum, shows the ability for the Start Menu to switch between the traditional Start Menu and a new version of the Start Screen from Windows 8. Build 9901, which was leaked in December 2014, showed off a more complete user interface, introducing an opaque taskbar and cleaner app windows, as well as a cleaner search bar in the taskbar where Cortana can be accessed. The build also features entirely new apps for the Calculator, Alarms, Photos, and Windows Store, which appear more desktop friendly. Control Panel also has begun to be deprecated, and PC Settings has been renamed "Settings." In addition, Settings has been removed from the Charms. On January 21, 2015, Microsoft held an event on the future of Windows 10. A new build was shown off, which shows off a more unified and complete user interface. Cortana is now integrated and functioning properly within Windows. A cleaner Start Menu, coded using XAML, was also presented, along with the ability to switch between the standard and full-screen modes of the Start Menu. Windows 10 was also unveiled for the first time on mobile phones. With this announcement came the presentation of a new Action Center with interactive notifications for both desktop and phones. New universal apps for both systems were unveiled, including new apps for Photos, Outlook Mail, People and Calendar. The rumored "Project: Spartan", a new browser that could potentially replace Internet Explorer, was unveiled and shown off, with integrated Cortana, a new annotation mode that works with OneNote, and a new Reading List. In addition, Windows 10 was announced to power gaming within the operating system through XBOX, along with a new Game DVR to record games, and a new streaming feature to stream and play XBOX games through the XBOX One console onto any device running Windows 10. Two additional hardware devices were unveiled that would run Windows 10: the Surface Hub and the Microsoft HoloLens. The build shown off at throughout most of the event was Build 9924, though the next build is reported to be Build 9926Neowin - Hands on with build 9924 of Windows 10, and not all the features shown off at the event would be immediately available. The build would be available through the Windows Insider Program in the week following the event, while the first build for Windows 10 on mobile phones would be made available in early February ("After the Seahawks win the Super Bowl"). Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 would be a free upgrade for all computers and devices running Windows 8.1, Windows Phone 8.1, and Windows 7 during the first year after the launch of Windows 10.


Microsoft is making Windows 10 available as free upgrade for qualified Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows Phone 8.1 devices. It became available on July 29, 2015 and will remain a free upgrade for one year. When you upgrade, you’ll stay on like-to-like editions of Windows. For example, Windows 7 Home Premium will upgrade to Windows 10 Home.

Windows Version & Edition Eligible Windows 10 Upgrade Edition
Windows 1.0

Windows 2.0
Windows 2.1x
Windows 3.0
Windows 3.1x
Windows NT 3.1
Windows NT 3.5
Windows NT 3.51
Windows NT 4.0
Windows 95
Windows 98
Windows 2000
Windows ME
Windows XP Starter
Windows XP Home
Windows XP Professional
Windows Vista Starter
Windows Vista Home Basic
Windows Vista Home Premium
Windows Vista Business
Windows Vista Enterprise
Windows Vista Ultimate
Windows 7 Enterprise
Windows 8
Windows 8 Pro
Windows 8 Enterprise
Windows RT
Windows RT 8.1

Not Eligible

Windows 7 Starter
Windows 7 Home Basic
Windows 7 Home Premium
Windows 8.1
Windows 8.1 with Bing

Windows 10 Home

Windows 7 Professional
Windows 7 Ultimate
Windows 8.1 Pro
Windows 8.1 Pro for Students

Windows 10 Pro
Windows Phone 8.1 Windows 10 Mobile
Windows 10 is serviced in a significantly different manner from previous releases of Windows. Is delivery is often described by Microsoft as a "service", due to its ongoing updates, with Terry Myerson explaining that Microsoft's aim is that "the question of 'what version of Windows are you running' will cease to make sense."

Unlike previous versions of Windows, Windows Update does not allow the selective installation of updates; instead, all updates (including patches, feature updates, and driver software) are downloaded automatically. Users can only choose whether the system will reboot automatically to install updates while the system is inactive , or be notified to schedule a reboot. Windows Update also uses a peer to peer system for distributing updates; by default, users' bandwidth is used to distribute previously downloaded updates to other users, in combination with Microsoft servers. Users can instead choose to only use peer-to-peer updates within their local area network.

Upgraded builds

Hardware requirements

The basic hardware requirements to install the Windows 10 Insider Preview are the same as Windows 8.1, however some older 64-bit CPUs may not be supported as well as some 32 GB and all 16 GB devices with a compressed system image.

Basic Requirements

  • Latest OS - Make sure you are running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update
  • 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 or 20 GB for 64-bit OS
  • Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
  • Display: 800x600

Important notes

  • The upgradeability of a device has factors beyond the system specification. This includes driver and firmware support, application compatibility, and feature support, regardless of whether or not the device meets the minimum system specification for Windows 10.
  • If your PC or tablet is currently running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update, you can check to see if it meets the requirements by using ‘Check my PC’ in the Get Windows 10 app.
  • Applications, files and settings will migrate as part of the upgrade, however some applications or settings may not migrate.
    • For Anti-virus and Anti-malware applications, during upgrade Windows will check to see if your Anti-virus or Anti-malware subscription is current. Windows will uninstall your application while preserving your settings. After upgrade is complete, Windows will install the latest version available with the settings that were set prior to upgrade. If your subscription is not current, upgrade will enable Windows defender.
    • Some applications that came from your OEM may be removed prior to upgrade.
    • For certain third party applications, the “Get Windows 10” app will scan for application compatibility. If there is a known issue that will prevent the upgrade, you will be notified of the list of applications with known issues. You can choose to accept and the applications will be removed from the system prior to upgrade. Please copy the list before you accept the removal of the application.

Additional requirements

  • Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany and Spain.
  • Speech recognition will vary by device microphone. For better speech experience you will need a:
    • High fidelity microphone array
    • Hardware driver with Microphone array geometry exposed
  • Windows Hello requires specialized illuminated infrared camera for facial recognition or iris detection or a finger print reader which supports the Window Biometric Framework. De Blob, De Blob 2.
  • Continuum is available on all Windows 10 editions by manually turning “tablet mode” on and off through the Action Center. Tablets and 2-in-1’s with GPIO indicators or those that have a laptop and slate indicator will be able to be configured to enter “tablet mode” automatically.
  • Music and Video stream through the Xbox Music or Xbox video app available in certain regions. For the most up to date list of regions, please go to Xbox on Windows website.
  • Two factor authentication requires the use of a PIN, Biometric (finger print reader or illuminated infrared camera), or a phone with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities.
  • The number of applications that can be snapped will depend upon the minimum resolution for the application.
  • To use touch, you need a tablet or a monitor that supports multi-touch. (more info)
  • Microsoft account required for some features.
  • Internet access (ISP) fees might apply.
  • Secure boot requires firmware that supports UEFI v2.3.1 Errata B and has the Microsoft Windows Certification Authority in the UEFI signature database.
  • Some IT administrators may enable Secure Logon (Ctrl + Alt + Del) before bringing you to the log in screen. On tablets without a keyboard, a tablet with the Windows button maybe required as the key combination on a tablet is Windows button + Power button.
  • Some games and programs might require a graphics card compatible with DirectX 10 or higher for optimal performance.
  • BitLocker To Go requires a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro only).
  • BitLocker requires either Trusted Platform Module (TPM) 1.2, TPM 2.0 or a USB flash drive (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
  • Client Hyper-V requires a 64-bit system with second level address translation (SLAT) capabilities and additional 2 GB of RAM (Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise only).
  • Miracast requires a display adapter which supports Windows Display Driver Model (WDDM) 1.3, and a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct.
  • Wi-Fi Direct Printing requires a Wi-Fi adapter that supports Wi-Fi Direct and a device that supports Wi-Fi Direct Printing.
  • To install a 64-bit OS on a 64-bit PC, your processor needs to support CMPXCHG16b, PrefetchW, and LAHF/SAHF.
  • InstantGo works only with computers designed for Connected Standby.
  • Device encryption requires a PC with InstantGo and TPM 2.0.


Windows 1.0Windows 2.0Windows 2.1 (Windows/286Windows/386) • Windows 3.0Windows 3.1
Windows 9x
Windows 95Windows 98Windows Me
Windows NT
Early versions
Windows NT 3.1Windows NT 3.5Windows NT 3.51Windows NT 4.0Windows 2000Windows 2000 Millennium Edition
Windows XP (development) • Windows Vista (editionsdevelopment) • Windows 7 (editionsdevelopment) • Windows 8Windows 10
Windows Server
Server 2003Server 2008 (2008 R2) • HPC Server 2008Home ServerSmall Business ServerEssential Business ServerWindows Server 2012Windows Server 2016
Windows EmbeddedWindows PEWindows Fundamentals for Legacy PCs
Windows MobileWindows Phone
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