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Our Score:


User Score:


  • The Start Menu is back and it’s better than ever
  • A significant upgrade over Windows 7 and Windows 8
  • Fixes the broken desktop experience of Windows 8
  • Cortana is powerful and useful


  • Tablet experience still has problems
  • Regular nagging to use Microsoft account
  • Mail and Calendar apps not available without Microsoft account

What is Windows 10?

The deadline to upgrade to Windows 10 for free ends on 29 July, giving those still on Windows 7 and 8 little time to decide whether or not they want to make the leap. After this date you’ll have to buy Windows 10, which will cost around £75 or more from a legitimate retailer. There's no better time to read our in-depth Windows 10 review, to help you come to a conclusion.

As a reminder, Windows 10 is seen as a big turnaround from Windows 8, which was largely viewed by PC and laptop users as a confusing mess that made the OS more difficult, rather than easier, to use. Windows 8 didn't exactly make Windows tablets or touchscreen laptops an entirely convincing proposition, either.

However, Windows 10 has far less of a focus on touchscreen use, and far more has been done to address the issues that both developers and general users experienced with Windows 8. Key changes include the reintroduction of the much coveted Start menu, as well as under-the-hood changes designed to make it easier for app makers to flog their wares on Microsoft’s platform.

Anniversary update incoming

There’s one more carrot on the end of Microsoft’s stick, and that’s the promise of the Anniversary Update that’s launching on 2 August, which falls after the upgrade date. There are a few features that might look attractive, and we’re going to run through them here.

Once the Anniversary Update has been released, we’ll update this review in full to include all its new features.

First, the key features that you need to know about:

Better stylus and handwriting support with Windows Ink. Ink is an entirely new feature that expands on Windows 10’s fairly low-key stylus support. You’ll be able to write into applications and have them interpret your stylus movements without you having to use a keyboard or mouse.

Sticky Notes will also see a huge improvement, with the notes you write being sucked into Microsoft’s personal assistant, Cortana, and converted into reminders if the text on them is relevant.

Cortana. You’ll now be able to issue Cortana commands from the lockscreen. You’ll be able to ask it questions about your diary, flight info and plenty more without having to unlock your machine. This is more useful on laptops and tablets, but still an interesting addition.

According to Microsoft, you'll also be able to enlist Cortana to remember info you always forget, such as your frequent flier number or where you parked your car. Cortana can now also display notifications from other devices – such as your Windows phone – on your main PC.

Edge. Microsoft’s Edge browser receives some much-needed attention, with extensions being added for the first time – including Pinterest, Amazon and, shudder, AdBlock Plus. If your laptop has a compatible webcam or fingerprint reader, you’ll also be able to log into websites using Windows Hello.

These won’t be enough to convince staunch non-upgraders, but they’re worth bearing in mind if you’re giving it some serious consideration.

Watch – A quick guide to what's new in Windows 10

For most, Windows 10 manages a good balance of core usability, performance, useful new features and some fun new extras too. We've also found the upgrade process to work seamlessly from both Windows 7 and Windows 8 machines, meaning there's little of the headache of previous upgrades.

There's perhaps not enough in Windows 10 to truly excite us but we're glad it's here and for the most part we do recommend that you take the upgrade.

See also: How to get Windows 10 free

Windows 10 5

Over the next few pages we’ll look at the key new features of the operating system, guide you through the experience on desktop PCs, laptops and touchscreen devices, and explain how Microsoft wants Windows 10 to bind all your devices together.

We’ve split the review into broad sections – it’s up to you whether you read from start to finish or jump to a specific section in which you’re most interested. You can use the review contents below to do just that, and we’ve also included links to other features that help explain what’s new in Windows 10.

Windows 10 Review Contents

Part 1 – Introducing the New Desktop, Start Menu and CortanaIn this section we explore the new desktop, the return of the Start Menu and the introduction of Cortana.

Part 2Using Windows 10 on PCs and LaptopsNot everyone wants a tablet or a hybrid, so what is Windows 10 like to use if you mainly use a traditional desktop PC or laptop?

Part 3Using Windows 10 on Hybrids and TabletsWindows 10 has to work on a huge variety of devices, none more demanding than tablets and hybrids.

Part 4Microsoft Edge, Mail and Native AppsYou probably spend most of your life either browsing the web or sending emails. Windows 10 introduces new apps for both, but are they any good?

Part 5Gaming on Windows 10How will Windows 10 change gaming on PC and Xbox One? Quite a lot, actually.

Part 6Stability, Performance and VerdictIs Windows 10 ready for you to upgrade to now?

Windows 10 FAQ

If you know nothing about Windows 10, here are a few common questions before you read the rest of our review. You can also read our Windows 10 tips, tricks and tweaks guide for more help using Windows 10.

Can I get Windows 10 for free?

Anyone with Windows 7 or Windows 8 can get Windows 10 for free if they upgrade in the first year since release (until July 29th 2016). Windows XP and Vista users will have to pay upwards of £75 to upgrade. Read our Windows 10 Free Upgrade guide for more info on this.

How can I get Windows 10 right now?

If you simply want to upgrade your existing Windows installation you can get Windows by using the Get Windows 10 app that should be downloaded automatically through Windows updated and confirming that you'd like to get the upgrade. It'll check your PC for compatibility and kick start Windows Update into downloading all the files needed. Once everything is downloaded you just tell Windows to do its thing and away it goes.

The upgrade process is totally automated and should keep all your files and apps so you're ready to carry on as normal after, though backing up your files beforehand is always a sensible option.

Alternatively, if you want to perform a clean installation you can download the Windows 10 ISO directly from Microsoft's website. Read our guide How to download and install Windows 10 right now to find out how.

Will all my stuff work?

Anything that works with Windows 7 or Windows 8 should work fine on Windows 10. If you're not sure, the Microsoft 'Get Windows 10 app' will check and make sure your device is compatible.

What's the difference between Windows 7/8 and Windows 10?

Windows 10 is a big upgrade over Windows 7, bringing much of the touch-focussed stuff debuted in Windows 8 but in a far more integrated manner. It's also faster and adds many new features, which you can read about over the next few pages.

Compared to Windows 8, Windows 10 primarily tidies up the touch-screen elements, making them less obtrusive than on Windows 8. It also introduces a host of of other little tweaks plus new apps, such as the Edge web browser and Xbox gaming hub.

For a short summary of the differences you can read our Windows 10 vs Windows 7 and Windows 10 vs Windows 8 guides.

Is my PC fast enough to run Windows 10?

Any Windows 7 or Windows 8 computer should run Windows 10 fine. Windows Vista users should be ok, too, but it's worth checking the Windows 10 System Requirements first before installing.

All my defaults have changed, how do I change them back?

One of the slightly annoying things Windows 10 does when you upgrade is change all your default programs back to Windows ones. So, for example, if you use Chrome or Firefox as your default browser then Windows 10 will set it to Edge when you install Windows 10.

This is the same for many programs, including your default video player and so on. Typing 'Default Programs' in the search box will get you to right place to change these, or you can read our How to change the default browser on Windows 10 guide for a step-by-step guide – the same method should work for all kinds of programs.

I don't like Windows 10, how do I go back?

If you decide Windows 10 isn't for you yet then you do have the option of going back Windows 7 or Windows 8. To do so, go to Settings > Update & Security. Next, head to Recovery and you should see an option to Go Back to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. This option is only available within the first month of upgrading, though. After that, you'll have to install that version of Windows anew.

I want to stream Xbox One games to my PC – how does it work?

It's a fairly simple process – you need to enable Xbox One streaming on your console, plug-in your Xbox controller into your PC or tablet and then run the Xbox app. Our How to stream Xbox One games to your Windows 10 PC guide explains it all in more detail, including how well it works with specific games.


July 28, 2015, 3:15 pm

For this site its not a bad review considering.

That said I do not understand how you can rate the OS as it is not out until the 29th onwards and as with all new OS or upgrades it takes around 6 months or more of tweaking still so the finite issues start to run smoothly.

You gave Apple Yosemite 9/10....for and upgrade as you called it..!

The bottom line is I would not provide an out of 10 scenario until its official.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 3:35 pm

Will you be constantly updating this review to take into account any new major updates? For example, Threshold 2, which is expected this fall and is also expected to bring many new UI changes and new features.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 3:47 pm

I completely agree with this score, and everything in this review (usually I disagree on a few points, and every now and then outright oppose your review scores) and it was a good read (although I do wish you had written a piece on Groove Music as it is the default music player). Good job on writing a well-rounded, unbiased review. As long as you continuously update this review as Microsoft will continuously update Windows 10, I'm very satisfied.
Written on Windows 10 Insider Preview Build 10240.


July 28, 2015, 4:49 pm

Thanks for the kind words -- a great deal of effort went into this review.

We'll definitely be revisiting this review over the coming months, particularly given how DirectX 12 will develop. It'll be interesting to see if the Windows Store sees any serious growth, too, as I think that'll be big indicator to how Windows 10 is performing.


July 28, 2015, 4:50 pm

See above -- we will be updating this review in the weeks/months to come.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 5:18 pm

That's very good. I especially look forward to the review update when Threshold 2 comes along, as I'm excited to test it out myself (as I'm an Insider I'll be getting it first).


July 28, 2015, 5:20 pm

In my perfect world there would be no such thing as review scores, but that's a whole different thing.

As noted above, we will be revisiting the review at regular intervals to see how things are developing.

While the OS isn't out until tomorrow, the review is based on the build that's going out tomorrow. It's the same version everyone is using to review Windows 10.

On the Windows/Mac comparison, I think the big difference is Windows is attempting to do more, which makes scoring it more difficult. But, as I said, I wouldn't put too much emphasis on the score. It's just a number.

I guess, if you were breaking it down, it would be a 9 for desktop/laptop users and a 7 for tablet/hybrid users, hence the middle ground.


July 28, 2015, 9:47 pm

Thanks for your reply.

Yeah I agree with a lot of this and what you said just except for the out of 10 bit as noted. I do appreciate you have to get the ball rolling but it wouldn't be as much fun if we all fell in line! :)


July 28, 2015, 9:52 pm

I agree the review is very in depth and actually its analysis is great. I do not think it is un-biased just the score issue is for me but otherwise a great piece.


July 28, 2015, 9:55 pm

It is a very nice piece of work I have to agree and I think the analysis is superb and written with a lot of thoughtful process. It is factual and also lets the reader think about what the capabilities are so in this regard an excellent article. Maybe I should give more credit where credit is due and it is despite things :)

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 11:28 pm

I believe the score is accurate. I would put it as a high 8, but I'm not sure at this point Windows 10 deserves a 9/10 overall.


July 29, 2015, 2:50 am

Ran it for a couple of months gone back to windows 8,I probably will upgrade when all my apps run on it properly.my only question is,will it keep all apps or will I have to reinstall,I don't fancy reinstalling some 300 games.


July 29, 2015, 8:07 am

"That said, the constant pressure to sign up to a Microsoft account and get involved in all its cloud services is something that some users just won’t be interested in. The fact that you can’t even use the Mail and Calendar apps without a Microsoft account is positively shocking. It’s not that you can’t use the system in a more offline way, but Microsoft does like to pester you if you do."

This is the key to whether I use Windows 10 or not; I have no interest in first-party apps like Mail and Calendar, I simply want a solid platform without a 'relationship' with Microsoft.

Exactly how irritating is running Windows 10 without a Microsoft account as a long term solution, if I am content to do without their first party apps?


July 29, 2015, 10:08 am

The upgrade process should keep the majority of apps and files. As always, though, be sure to back everything up just in case.


July 29, 2015, 10:10 am

Thanks. Andy and I put a lot of work into it so glad to hear it's appreciated.


July 29, 2015, 10:41 am

Anytime it showed how much effort you put into it.


July 29, 2015, 10:50 am

Not a single thing will be removed, upgrading experience in windows 10 is the best in Microsoft history.

Prem Desai

July 29, 2015, 1:01 pm


At least you have the option to install another client or use web mail services.

Try using ANY Apple device without an Apple account - I dare you ...!!


July 29, 2015, 4:49 pm

I've had my laptop on all day but why isn't the stupid thing automatically installing Windows 10? All my Windows updates are already up to date, I previously reserved Windows 10 when prompted, and I'm running 8.1 but when I click on 'Check for Update' there's no sign of Windows 10 coming down the internet pipes....Help!!!


July 29, 2015, 7:37 pm

Well it's 8:30pm and I'm still waiting for the download to start...

One question I do have:- I wish to clean install to a new SSD, currently my Win7 install is on another drive. I assume this will be possible?

Dan Murphy

July 29, 2015, 8:21 pm

If you go here


You dont have to wait


July 29, 2015, 9:56 pm

You pay for it my friend. How where you expecting to get an operating system for it?


July 30, 2015, 6:29 am

How big is Windows 10 installation after upgrade ?
i hope it did not leave too many junk


July 30, 2015, 8:58 am

'Edge is also easier to use on touch-enabled laptops and hybrids' - I disagree with this. While the interface is tons better than touch IE, there are no gestures in Edge. Also, some sites via touch are broken like Google Maps. You can't scroll around or anything. And performance is hit or miss. On Zillow, it's horrific. While Edge is a great start, it has a ways to go.

mark choletti

July 30, 2015, 1:23 pm

Windows Update (on a Windows 7 desktop) had already failed one Windows 10 upgrade attempt with me yesterday, throwing up an error message with a string of C1900208 or other, so I downloaded Microsoft's MediaCreationTool64 and the resulting Win 10 iso file. After resolving the software incompatibility problems and a dead desktop -- nothing on screen wanted to click -- I found out that Windows 10 hadn't been activated. It appears to be a common problem, and one joker at a forum said if you keep on pressing the activate button, it will eventually activate somewhere between 20 and 40 clicks. I tried it anyway, and after the 15th click Windows 10 finally activated. I guess M$'s activation servers were massively overwhelmed yesterday.

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