Microsoft has kicked off the Windows 10 public testing period, but the company wants the fearless enthusiasts willing to participate in the Insider Program to be aware of a number of things before they jump in.
1. The Technical Preview version of the new OS you'll be installing is raw and buggy
This is by design, because Microsoft wants to incorporate testers' feedback early on in the development process so it can avoid a Windows 8-like flop. So this isn't an OS you want to install on your primary PC.
How bad can it get? "Unexpected PC crashes could damage or even delete your files, so you should back up everything. Some printers and other hardware might not work, and some software might not install or work correctly, including antivirus or security programs. You might also have trouble connecting to home or corporate networks," reads a Microsoft FAQ.
Even those installing Windows 10 Tech Preview on a Windows 8.1 PC might need to update or reinstall applications and peripherals.
Make sure any PC you use to test the Windows 10 Technical Preview meets the minimum criteria. System requirements include a 1GHz or faster processor, 1GB of RAM for the 32-bit version and 2GB of RAM for the 64-bit version, and 16GB of free hard disk space.
2. You must roll with the changes and have tech nerd cred
Your threshold of tolerance for change should be high, because the OS will undergo major modifications between now and the day it ships commercially, which Microsoft expects will be by the middle of next year.
You also should have higher-than-average PC tech knowledge. This means, in Microsoft's frank words, that you must "really know your way around a PC and feel comfortable troubleshooting problems, backing up data, formatting a hard drive, installing an operating system from scratch, or restoring your old one if necessary."
Got that? Just to be clear, Microsoft adds: "We're not kidding about the expert thing. So if you think BIOS is a new plant-based fuel, Tech Preview may not be right for you." Alrighty then.
3. Wallflowers need not apply
If you're shy about expressing your opinion, this program ain't for you. Microsoft's main motivation behind making pre-release versions of the OS available to anyone interested in test-driving them is to hear back from them regarding what they don't like, what's not working right, how things can be improved and so on.
Also, you should be comfortable with letting Microsoft poke around your system "because if your PC runs into problems, Microsoft will likely examine your system files" and grab and transmit data to its systems, in some cases without alerting you nor giving you the option of stopping the information transfer.
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