Requirements Reading

San Francisco’s Moscone Center is still standing after a busy spring of developer conferences, where this year’s major new operating systems have now all been previewed on the way to release. If Windows 10, Android M, El Capitan or iOS 9  has caught your eye — but you’re not quite sure if your hardware can handle it — here’s a quick refresher on the system requirements you’ll need to update. Keep in mind, though, that some of these specs are based on pre-release software and could change by the time the final edition hits the download queue. And remember,  if you have older hardware, you may have limited functionality and not get all the features in that new release, so don’t expect to suddenly get things like Siri or Apply Pay with iOS 9 on an iPad 2.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is arriving at the end of next month, so it’ll likely be the first new system here. The official specifications are still being tweaked, but the system as been in preview for months, so expect to meet these requirements from Microsoft:

Latest OS: Make sure you are running the latest version either Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster processor or SoC
RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) for 32-bit or 2 GB for 64-bit
Hard disk space: 16 GB for 32-bit OS 20 GB for 64-bit OS
Graphics card: DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver
Display: 800×600

These are minimum requirements and more power, memory and space are always better for happy computing.

win10logo

The Windows 10 Preview had a few other bullet points that will likely still hold true for the final release:

  • Windows 10 will scan your system for a current subscription to an AV product and sideline incompatible versions.
  • If you have Windows 7 Home Premium, Windows 7 Professional, Windows 7 Ultimate, Windows 8 Pro with Media Center, or Windows 8.1 Pro with Media Center and you install Windows 10, Windows Media Center will be removed.
  • Watching DVDs requires separate playback software.
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets will be removed as part of installing Windows 10.
  • Windows 10 Home users will have updates from Windows Update automatically available.
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games that come pre-installed on Windows 7 will be removed as part of installing the Windows 10 upgrade. Microsoft has released our version of Solitaire and Minesweeper called the “Microsoft Solitaire Collection” and “Microsoft Minesweeper.”
  • If you have a USB floppy drive, you will need to download the latest driver from Windows Update or from the manufacturer’s website.
  • If you have Windows Live Essentials installed on your system, the OneDrive application is removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.
  • Cortana is only currently available on Windows 10 for the United States, United Kingdom, China, France, Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Android M

The next version of Google’s mobile operating system is expected in the third quarter of this year, or as normal people call it, autumn.  Nexus devices will get the good first and an official preview of Android M is already available for the Nexus 5,6, 9 and Nexus player devices. Android fan sites are busy compiling projected release schedules for non-Nexus devices.

MThe Android Police blog is reporting that Google plans to guarantee major system updates for Nexus devices for two years, and security patches for three years from an Android version’s release date. But on that timetable, several existing Nexus devices would not get the Android M update, including the Nexus 4, Nexus 10 and Nexus 7 (2012). But the older tablets will still receive security patches and the Nexus 7 of 2013 should still be eligible if this is Google’s plan. (Then again, many owners of older Nexus devices complained that Lollipop sandbagged their gadgets and they wanted to downgrade, so maybe missing the M train here is not a bad thing.)

OS X 10.11 El Capitan

elcapNewer systems are always going to run better on newer hardware, but basically, if your Mac can run OS X Yosemite or OS X Mavericks, it can probably to run OS X El Capitan. All Macs released over the past five years are supported. Specifically, the supported minimum Mac model list includes the following hardware:

iMac (Mid-2007 or newer)
MacBook (13-inch Aluminum, Late 2008), (13-inch, Early 2009 or newer)
MacBook Pro (13-inch, Mid-2009 or newer), (15-inch, Mid / Late 2007 or newer), (17-inch, Late 2007 or newer)
MacBook Air (Late 2008 or newer)
Mac Mini (Early 2009 or newer)
Mac Pro (Early 2008 or newer)

The Mac must have a 64-bit CPU, so that pretty much means an Intel Core 2 Duo or later under the hood. You’ll also need a few gigabytes of available disk space to install the final version on your Mac, which is typical for updating any system software.

AboutThisMac

Can’t remember when you got your Mac or the chip it’s got beathing under its aluminum or plastic skin? From your desktop, go to the Apple menu ( ) to About this Mac. For Macs running older versions of OS X, click More Info, otherwise select Overview to see your machine’s details (as shown here) and plan accordingly.

iOS9

ios9logoExpect the next version of Apple’s mobile operating system to land during the annual breathless media event that’s traditionally held in September to unveil new iPhones. Making the move to iOS 9 may be much easier than that heavy lift to iOS 8 that some people experienced. Remember when you needed a massive 4.6 GB of free storage space to download and wedge the update on your device last year? Apple says iOS 9 will only require 1.3 GB by comparison, so even 16GB iPhone and iPad users will have an easier time upgrading.

Space issues aside, as a general rule of thumb, if your iDevice is currently chugging along on either iOS 8 and iOS 7, it can run iOS 9. Apple says supported hardware includes:

iPad Air
iPad Air 2
iPad Mini
iPad Mini 2
iPad Mini 3
iPad 4th generation
iPad 3rd generation
iPad 2
iPhone 6 Plus
iPhone 6
iPhone 5S
iPhone 5C
iPhone 5
iPhone 4S
iPod Touch 5th generation

Oh, and before all these upgrades start flying? Back up your current computer and/or device regularly, especially right before you download a new operating system. Those tears you shed should be from joy at your groovy new software — and not frustration because something went horribly wrong and you have no backup.

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