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Windows 10 is a pretty big deal right now. You can bet that by now, millions of PC users will have downloaded Microsoft’s new operating system and will be playing with the new features like Cortana. But what if your computer is showing its age? Now might be the time to replace it. Upgrade to a new PC and you can be sure your hardware can take full advantage of Windows 10’s new features and if your existing PC is running an older version of Windows, you’ll save a chunk of cash by not having to pay for the upgrade.

Windows 10 has so many cool new features, it’s tough to list them all. Besides all the new functionality, the new operating system has been making news for its modest system requirements and the ability to upgrade for free. However, both of those points do come with caveats and that’s where your old PC may be holding you back.

Windows 10 Free Upgrade for Eligible Devices

Eligible is the key word here. 

So long as your PC, tablet or smartphone is running a genuine version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, it’s eligible for the free upgrade. However, if your PC is running an older version of Windows—and there are still a lot of PCs out there running XP—then you’ll have to purchase a copy of Windows 10.

For more information or to determine if your computer qualifies you can check with Geek Squad. They are even offering free

Modest Requirements, but Not All Features Are Supported

The minimum hardware requirements for Windows 10 are surprisingly modest. If you have a 1 GHz CPU, 1 GB of RAM, 16 GB of free storage space, an 800 x 600 display and a graphics card with DirectX 9, you can upgrade to the 16-bit version of the new OS. 

I think you’d have a hard time finding a working PC that doesn’t meet those specs …

However, running a computer that just meets the minimum requirements is often an exercise in frustration. Yes, technically it works, but expect performance to be pokey at best. Microsoft also published a list of Windows 10 features that require more advanced hardware than the minimum requirements. If your PC is old, you may be able to technically run Windows 10 but chances are you’ll be missing out on some of the excitement.

In its Windows 10 FAQ, the company has this to say about installing the new OS on an aging PC: “We recommend you experience Windows 10 on a newer device. We think you’ll be happier with the affordable, great PCs that are available today. PCs have improved dramatically since Windows XP was released in 2001 and Windows Vista was released in 2006.”

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Virtually every Windows PC and tablet being sold today comes with Windows 8.1, making them eligible for the free Windows 10 upgrade. By replacing an older PC with new hardware, you get to take full advantage of the latest hardware, including high resolution displays, faster and more power efficient processors, near instant-boot SSDs and laptops that offer touchscreen displays and all-day battery life. At the same time, you’ll be saving over $100 on the cost of buying a copy of Windows 10 and when you install the new OS, it will have full feature support.

In other words, a win-win scenario.

Not sure what all the fuss is about? Check out my post on the 10 coolest things to look forward to in Windows 10 for the full scoop on what to expect from Microsoft’s revolutionary new operating system.

Brad Moon
Editor Computing solutions
I’m a long-time electronics and gadget geek who’s been fortunate enough to enjoy a career that lets me indulge this interest. I have been writing about technology for several decades for a wide range of outlets including Wired, Gizmodo, Lifehacker, MSN,, Kiplinger, and GeekDad. I’m in my 10th year as a senior contributor for Forbes with a focus on reviewing music-related tech, Apple gear, battery power stations and other consumer electronics. My day job is with the Malware Research Center at AI-native cybersecurity pioneer CrowdStrike.