How to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10 - and why you should

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Upgrading to Windows 10 is a good move for businesses looking for Microsoft's most complete operating system

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Windows 7 was at one time the jewel in Microsoft's crown and for some it still is. This much-loved operating system is extremely usable and is everything its successor, Windows 8, isn't.

The contrast from Windows 7 and the seeming disaster that was Windows 8 makes some users even more evangelical about the software.

However, with Windows 10 being more stable than ever and its design reverting back to the glorious Windows 7 days, upgrading to Windows 10 is a good move.

In fact, Windows 10 overtook the market share of Windows 7 for the first time in January 2018, according to analytics company Statcounter.

For businesses with multiple machines, the thought of upgrading operating systems can be daunting. Thankfully the process of actually upgrading is pretty simple thanks to Microsoft. Although, your wallet will definitely take a hit.

To guide you through this process, Computerworld UK looks at what you should consider, how much Windows 10 costs and how to actually upgrade your systems.

See also: Windows 10 for business: Pros and cons for enterprise users.

Why should businesses upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 - which Microsoft has called its 'final' version - has gone through multiple substantial updates, its most notable being the Anniversary Update and the Fall Creators Update.

Plus, with Microsoft's Spring Creators Update expected this month, there's a lot for Windows 10 users to look forward to.

This update is the latest in a long line of improvements to the OS and should include UI changes, a new Timeline feature and toolbar updates.

The Timeline feature is particularly attractive to business users as it provides a dashboard which can work across multiple open documents and programs, allowing you to resume working on documents from the past 30 days, across various devices.

Plus the overall look and feel of Windows 10 will be improved, with 'Fluent Design' offering greater highlighting and image depth, for a more modern UI.

For a full look at the upcoming features in the Spring Creators Update, see here.

In March, Microsoft also announced that Windows 10 would launch the Windows Machine Learning (WinML) platform, in a bid to get Windows developers to use Microsoft machine learning technology in their apps much more easily.

One of the great things about Windows 10 is that it acknowledges the mistakes in Windows 8, and in a lot of ways aims to right the wrongs found in the previous iteration.

The Windows 10 interface is much like Windows 7, rather than 8, so transitioning from Windows 7 to Windows 10 shouldn't be an issue or pose a big learning curve. 

Plus the return of the Start Button and distinct lack of huge 'live tiles' for displaying apps should be very appealing to a prospective Windows 10 customer.

If you're currently using Windows 7, you'll need to upgrade sooner rather than later.

Windows 7 ended mainstream support for the OS back in January 2015, with its extended support coming to an end on 14 January 2020.

This is less of an issue for a small business, however, for larger ones, the migration process could take well over a year, making the deadline more urgent.

You'll be best off skipping a version when upgrading from Windows 7. Mainstream support for Windows 8 ended on 9 January 2018, and it can be quite buggy - not Microsoft's best work.

How to upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10

Sadly, the deadline for free upgrades to Windows 10 expired on 31 Dec 2017. This means businesses will have to purchase licences and download from buying pages in Microsoft's store. (Skip to the next section for prices)

If you only have a few devices upgrading is nice and easy. Just go to Microsoft's website, pay for a copy and download it.

Once you've done that, you need to simply 'run the program' and Microsoft's built-in wizard will take care of the installation.

One thing to keep in mind is your files and documents. Even though Microsoft says that it keeps your files during the upgrade, it is always best to back up everything you need, just in case.

Understandably, this will be a mammoth task for larger businesses and enterprises, so a full audit of data and data backup protocol could be necessary.

For the Pro version of the software, you'll need to factor in a few technical requirements. 

Windows 10 Pro requires a 1 GHz processor or faster, 800x600 screen resolution, up to 20GB of hard disk space, and - depending on whether you go for 32-bit or 64-bit version - between 1GB and 2GB of RAM. 

How much does Windows 10 cost?

As there is no free upgrade to Windows 10 anymore, upgrading to Windows 10 will set you back around £119.99 for a Home licence or £219.99 for Windows 10 Pro.