Microsoft unveiled the next version of Windows on September 30, choosing to skip a version number and hop from 8 to 10. While the final version of Windows 10 is expected to be released in 2015, the Technical Preview release - targeted at PC experts who understand the risks involved in downloading unfinished software - will be available starting October 1.
Understanding Windows 10 Technical Preview
In this preview, Windows 10 will go through a lot of change with updates, and you will have access to the Windows Feedback app. This app helps send feedback to Microsoft about the different features they are adding and removing to Windows 10 in the preview period and thus, helps you be a part of the team that improves and polishes the OS.
That apart, there are many new features that you can try out with Windows 10. For one thing, it has a new start menu - a blend of live tiles and classic desktop apps. The Windows apps also don't have to run in a forced full-screen mode, making them more useful for desktop users. Windows 10 also features much improved file explorer and search features.
(Also see: Ten Things We Know About Windows 10)
Windows also finally supports multiple desktops now. If these are features you had been crying out for since switching to Windows 8, then the Windows 10 Technical Preview will be quite appealing.
Before you proceed to try this release, know that you might face system-breaking bugs and end up losing data. If you're installing Windows 10 on your primary PC, we suggest you take a complete backup. Microsoft recommends that you install it on a secondary PC, which is sound advice when using unfinished software.
How to download Windows 10 Technical Preview
If you still want to go ahead, then here's how you can download the Windows 10 Technical Preview.
1. Join the Windows Insider Program using this page.
2. Make sure you have a machine that meets the Windows 10 minimum system requirements:
- Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster
- RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
- Free hard disk space: 16 GB
- Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
- A Microsoft account and Internet access
Microsoft also notes that you won't be able to play DVDs using Windows Media Player after installing the preview. It says that some processors and hardware configurations might be blocked from installing the preview, without naming any specific models. Currently, only three languages are supported in the preview - English, Simplified Chinese and Brazilian Portuguese.3. Download the Windows 10 Technical Preview install files directly from these links:
- Download Windows 10 English 32-bit (2.9GB)
- Download Windows 10 English 64-bit (3.8GB)
- Download Windows 10 English UK 32-bit (2.94GB)
- Download Windows 10 English UK 64-bit (3.79GB)
- Download Windows 10 Chinese (Simplified) 32-bit (3.05GB)
- Download Windows 10 Chinese (Simplified) 64-bit (3.96GB)
- Download Windows 10 Portuguese (Brazil) 32-bit (2.91GB)
- Download Windows 10 Portuguese (Brazil) 64-bit (3.76GB)
4. After downloading one of these files, you can use an app like ImgBurn to burn the Windows 10 image file to a DVD or a USB pen drive.
5. Double click (or double tap if you are on a touch device) setup.exe and follow the on-screen instructions.
If prompted for the Windows 10 Technical Preview product key, use NKJFK-GPHP7-G8C3J-P6JXR-HQRJR
User data and rollback
If you are installing the preview on top of Windows 7 or 8 and above, you should be able to preserve Windows settings, personal files, and most apps when upgrading to Windows 10 Technical Preview. However, Windows Vista users will have to do a clean install, and since the Windows 10 Technical Preview is x86 only, Windows RT users are completely out of luck.
If, after installing Windows 10 Technical Preview, you want to go back to your old version of Windows for whatever reason, you need to be prepared before you install the preview. Windows 7 or Vista users should create recovery media from a recovery partition on your PC using software provided by your PC manufacturer. Windows 8 or above users should create a USB recovery drive.
Check the Microsoft website for more information before proceeding with the installation of Windows 10 Technical Preview.
Updates and other information
Once you've installed the preview, you'll get automatic updates. Your preview copy will expire on April 15, 2015, by when we should have a consumer preview of Windows 10. Microsoft has posted instructions to help you familiarise with the new Windows 10 operating system.
The Windows Insider Program allows users to stay on the cutting edge of Windows software. Microsoft will issue frequent updates that you can download as and when available.
A consumer preview version of Windows 10 will be available early next year, and that is probably a much better option for most users. If you can't wait though, you can download this early release build of Windows 10.
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