I have a feeling Windows 10 is going to be a recurring theme on “Trube on Tech” Tuesday for a little while, but the one question that probably needs to be answered first is: Should I install Windows 10?
Let’s back up. If you own a Windows 7 or Windows 8 (or 8.1) machine, you probably noticed a little app a couple of months ago in the bottom right of your screen asking if you’d like to reserve a free copy of Windows 10. If you didn’t see this app, you’re not alone, but don’t worry, you’ve got about a year to reserve your free copy and Microsoft is here to help.
Should I Reserve My Free Copy of Windows 10?
For my money, there’s no harm in reserving the free copy. The pre-setup download is a couple 100 MB (not a big chunk of most hard drives) and you can always decide not to upgrade. If you’re on the fence, free isn’t bad. Just don’t install until you’re ready. Install speeds have been slow since a lot of people are upgrading now, so you can always wait until Microsoft’s server traffic is a little lighter.
What Am I Getting?
This is a complicated question but from playing with the new OS the high-points are:
1) The new Edge browser which looks more like a tablet browser to me both in functionality and features. It’ll probably be good for casual use, but businesses will still want to use IE11 (or better yet Chrome).
2) A new start menu, the bastard child of the Metro screen and the old program menu. This is certainly an improvement, but many people have already solved this problem on Windows 8 with tools like ClassicShell. And for my money, the new menu still has too much of the Metro screen look and feel.
3) Longer support. Windows 8 support ends in 2023, Windows 7 in 2020. New features for Windows 7 stopped earlier this year, and Windows 8’s should stop in a few more. So theoretically, you’re set till 2025. On the other hand, your laptop probably won’t last that long.
Otherwise what you’re getting looks an awful lot like Windows 8. There’s some subtle changes to the file windows, but they’re still not as pretty as Windows 7.
I have Windows 7, should I upgrade?
If you bought your laptop today, maybe. Otherwise I’d say Windows 7 is more like the Windows we all know and love. Eventually it’ll go the way of XP, but that’s a long way off. For context, most open-source Long Term Support operating systems (Ubuntu for one) have only a five year support cycle. So you’re still doing pretty good.
I have Windows 8.1, should I upgrade?
Aside from the Start Menu I’m not convinced yet you’re getting something drastically better than what you have. A lot of people don’t like upgrading simply because they’re worried about losing files or programs will stop working. And that is always a risk, though the Windows update says it will maintain files and programs, I doubt this is completely seamless. If your Windows 8 machine is new, then maybe go ahead. If you’re used to how Windows 8.1 works, even if you don’t love it, this isn’t going to be enough of an improvement to justify the hassle.
I like new things and want to do the install, what’s your advice?
DO NOT let Microsoft choose the default settings for the device. There have already been some security concerns raised about the WiFi sharing capability of the new OS, and there seems to be even more ways the OS tracks where you are and what you do. My advice … choose “customize my settings”, then click NO to everything.
As always when doing an upgrade, backup your files. And of course leave the computer plugged-in. Also be sure you’re ready because this is a one-way trip. The only way back I can think of is a factory reformat and a restore disk. Trust me, that is a BIG hassle.
If you have Word 2007 you may be in for some bad news. Windows 10 may or may not support it, and Microsoft support for 2007 ends in a couple of years. You may need to buy a new version of Word, though have you tried OpenOffice?
I’ve got a copy of Windows 10 Pro in a virtual machine that I’ll be playing with for the next few weeks. Feel free to ask me questions. Despite my reservations, I’m probably going to upgrade one of my laptops to 10 to get a feel for real-time performance, though that’ll be a while.