On 29 July the 10 month public development journey of Windows 10 will end with the General Availability of the new operating system.

Microsoft is planning the roll out in a measured approach to monitor the process and address any hitches that may occur along the way before opening the flood gates.

Initially Windows Insiders will be first to get the 29/7 bits and then those whom reserved a copy via the Get Windows 10 App will be next. That group will be slowly allowed accessed to the upgrade in stages and this process could take several days.

Microsoft has been able to monitor the number of successful upgrades between builds in the Windows Insider Program over the last 10 months so I am sure they will use this tool to track upgrades during the roll out.

At some point, when they are happy with how things are progressing, Microsoft will simply make the upgrade available on demand to anyone on Windows 7 (with SP1) and 8.1.

Again this could take anywhere from a few days to a couple of weeks – Microsoft has not made any statements relating to this schedule.

No matter when you gain access to Windows 10 for free the vast majority of users will move from their previous OS (Windows 7 and 8.1) to Windows 10 through an in place upgrade.

Over the last ten months I have performed multiple upgrades from Windows 7 and 8.1 to Windows 10 as well as upgrades between Windows 10 builds.  On the few occasions I experienced an issue the roll back process succeeded in getting me back to the previous OS so I could try again.  I fully expect the smooth roll backs to be the case after 29/7 as well.

Once your upgrade to Windows 10 is complete you will arrive in the new OS ready to go with your compatible apps, programs and all of your files waiting for you.

I recommend that you take these five steps as you begin your own Windows 10 experience:

1. Update your Windows Store based apps

Developers have been busy updating their apps for Windows 10 and there have been updates for many of the built in apps as well. To do this just open the Windows Store and follow these steps:

Windows Store on Windows 10 Update Apps

1. Click on your user icon next to the Search box

2. On the drop down menu click Downloads.

Windows 10 Windows Store Update Apps

This is the Downloads and installs page of the new Windows Store in Windows 10.

1. Click the Check for updates button to check all of your installed apps for updates.

2. Once that is done click the Update all button to update any apps.

Once the updates are in process you can monitor their progress and then close the Store app once everything is updated.

If the Windows Store app includes an update in this list I choose to pause it once I hit the Update all button and then once all other apps are installed then I hit the Play key to finish the Store update.  Do not be alarmed when the Store closes during the update as that is normal.

Bonus Update Tip: Also visit Windows Update to make sure you have all the latest system updates for Windows 10.

2. Customize and arrange your Start Menu layout

In an upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 your current Start Screen layout will carry over to the new Start Menu but the layout may not be the best use of the new Start Menu real estate. In addition to Live Tiles you can also customize some of the new Windows 7 like Start Menu icons.

Rather than go through all of those steps here for you be sure to check out the various How-To’s we have created here on the SuperSite for those customizations:

Microsoft has decided to not bring back the popular Start Menu/Screen layout synching in Windows 10 so each device can have its own unique layout. This is actually beneficial if you have multiple devices with varying screen sizes.

3. Customize Microsoft Edge and import other browser Favorites

Microsoft Edge is the new browser from Microsoft that is Windows 10.  Internet Explorer and any other browser you had installed on your previous system before the upgrade will still be available. However, if you want to use Microsoft Edge by default you will want to add a couple of optimizations and import your favorites from the other browsers on your system.

Again, let me point you towards the How-To’s we have already created in this area to get you started on this process:

Bonus Productivity Tip: Since Microsoft Edge does not support browser extensions and many other old technologies you may access a page and need to open it in IE instead.

From within Microsoft Edge it is very simple to do just that:

How To: Quickly Open Internet Explorer Pages in Microsoft Edge on Windows 10

4. Customize the new File Explorer (previously known as Windows Explorer in Windows 7)

The new File Explorer in Windows 10 has a couple of customization options that can help you with your most commonly accessed areas of your computer.  By setting these to your preferences you can shorten the amount of time it takes you to gain access to files across your system.

5. Customize Quick Action buttons in the Action Center

In Windows 10 we now have a brand new Action Center on our desktop and tablet devices which stores alerts for your apps and system while you work. You can easily look back at that list of alerts to make sure you have not missed any.

Included in the Action Center are Quick Action buttons and these provide you quick access to various settings and functionality on your device.  While different system configurations will have different options for what will appear in the Quick Action button options they can be customized to place your most accessed options within the top line of the Quick Action button area.

Here is how to customize that area:

How To: Setup Quick Action Buttons in Windows 10

That is it for my Top 5 suggestions – what about you? What are some of the first steps you plan to take with Windows 10 once you are upgraded?