Before Upgrading to Windows 10...
Microsoft would like everybody to upgrade to Windows 10; and, they’re offering it for free on selected machines (i.e. Windows 7, 8, 8.1). It feels very much as if Microsoft is embarrassed by Windows 8 and would like everybody to just look away from Windows 8 and pretend that it never happened. There are definite improvements in Windows 10 over Windows 8; but, they seem to relate mainly to those things in Windows 7 that were removed (e.g. Start Button) and/or those things that should have been built into Windows 8 properly in the first place (e.g. “windows” for apps to run inside). There are several things that one should consider and prepare for before rushing to upgrade to Windows 10 – even though it’s free.
Will Windows 10 run properly, smoothly, and quickly on your computer hardware? Even if your computer satisfies Microsoft’s official “minimum requirements list”, this doesn’t guarantee a good user experience. Be especially wary if your computer was bought as an XP or Vista machine. There may not even be hardware drivers available for your older hardware.
A NEW OPERATING SYSTEM
Windows 10 is not a hotfix, update, or a service pack (e.g. SP1). It is an entirely new operating system. This is a big deal and should not be entered into lightly. It may not be easily reversible on your computer. Operating systems are best loaded clean (i.e. on a blank hard drive) to avoid problems. This means saving all your data, then restoring data and reinstalling all your software again after the new operating system is installed and running well. Operating system "upgrades" can result in a mess that might require a clean reinstall eventually anyway. In any case, be sure to back up your data before loading Windows 10.
WHAT YOU LOSE
Microsoft giveth and Microsoft taketh away. Anybody familiar with Microsoft knows this by now. If you’re used to Windows 7, prepare for the following:
- Updates are done automatically. There is no longer the option to postpone or reject them.
- Since Windows 8, DVD-playing capability (i.e. movies) is no longer included natively in the operating system.
- Windows Media Player is no longer included. You can now buy it from Microsoft.
- Solitaire is no longer included. You can now buy the Solitaire “app” from Microsoft.
- Safe Mode can only be invoked if your computer boots normally. So using Safe Mode to troubleshoot or repair a boot problem (i.e. the main purpose of Safe Mode) is a non-starter. Catch 22. Thanks, Microsoft!
WHAT YOU GET
If you’re basically happy with Windows 7, then Windows 10 is probably a bad idea. On the other hand, if you’re unhappy with Windows 8, then Windows 10 may be a good idea. Here are some of the items you get (or get back).
- Fast booting. Windows 8, 8.1, and 10 all boot quickly. They also run relatively quickly and smoothly when they’re not busy doing updates, crashing, or frozen.
- Start Menu. Imagine being able to start an application without switching to the Metro screen, scrolling through screens of dancing (“live”) tiles, and finally finding what you want and clicking on it. Imagine being able to click on “Devices and Printers” instead of switching to the Metro screen, typing “Devices and Printers”, then looking for the searched and found matching tile, then clicking on it.
- Cortana. Microsoft’s “intelligent personal assistant”. Sounds like “Clippy” meets “Her”. Try it, you’ll like it. Maybe. Doubtful.
- Microsoft Edge. Microsoft’s new web browser, a replacement for Internet Explorer. Lets you annotate web pages. If you feel a compelling need to scrawl “NEAT!” across web pages, then this may be for you.
If you’re already using Windows 8 or 8.1, then Windows 10 may not be a bad idea. Still, the free upgrade does not expire until nearly a year from now. Be sure to first take the precautions mentioned above. If you’re using Windows 7 and satisfied, then I would not recommend the upgrade at this time. If you’re using Windows 7 and you’re looking for some excitement, then skip Windows 8, skip Windows 9, and head straight for Windows 10.