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Microsoft Windows 10: Is it worth upgrading?

Caption: Windows 10 s Get Started app helps new users get going. Photograph: Jack Schofield

I know you can t answer, but what do you really think about Windows 101? I was sceptical from the start. When I started reading about how a lot of people in business are going to stick with Windows 72 until it s ended, I thought: Get another machine now while they re still affordable, and did so. Why should I trust Microsoft3 when they are shoving Windows 10 down my throat, even though I ve told them I don t want it? I ve turned off upgrades completely.

It took me a long time to move to Windows 7, and I still miss XP. Gabriele4

I may have faults, but I have no problem saying what I think. And I really do think that Windows 10 will be extremely good when it s finished, which it isn t, yet. In fact, my view hasn t changed since I reviewed Windows5 10. The problem isn t whether to upgrade to Windows 10, it s when. That depends on what you are using now, what you are using your computer for, and whether you can benefit from Windows 10 s innovations. It also depends on whether you are an early adopter who is keen to try new things, or a late adopter who is happy to wait until the interesting new thing has become everybody else s boring old thing. Most businesses are conservative, thinking that if it ain t broke, don t fix it . Even if they want to move, it takes them ages. First, they have to test the new OS to make sure it runs all their software, and in-house programs may need some rewriting. Second, switching hundreds or thousands of PCs can take months. Third, workers generally don t like change, and they may need some retraining, which costs money.

As a result, some large organisations clung to Windows XP longer than was productive or even rational. Microsoft has therefore retained Windows 7 Pro as a current product, alongside Windows 10. It is also committed to supporting Windows 7 until 2020, so businesses have more than four years to switch. People who use Windows 7 at home can take the same approach. You don t have to upgrade until 2020, if you don t want to. Of course, Microsoft wants everyone on Windows 10, both to reduce market fragmentation and to provide a large target market for app developers. It therefore offered home users a free upgrade if they install it within a year of its launch on 29 July.

Windows 10 already has more than 110 million users, so the free offer has worked. However, many people are still going to upgrade in the usual way. That is to say: only when they buy a new PC running Windows 10.

Blocking Windows 10

I certainly agree that Microsoft overstepped the mark in pushing Windows 10, sometimes pre-downloading part or all of the code (check your C: drive for a hidden folder called £Windows.~BT), and in some cases, trying to install it. Microsoft claims this was a mistake, and has changed the settings. If you don t want to upgrade, you could install GWX Control Panel6, a free program formerly called GWX Stopper. (GWX is the name of Microsoft s Get Windows 10 utility.) The author, Ultimate Outsider, has posted a YouTube video7 showing the latest version. Once you install the GWX Control Panel you can safely turn on auto-updates. Security updates are very important.

Reasons to upgrade

Windows 10 s attractions, compared with Windows 7, include great touch-screen and stylus support, the ability to run new-style apps as well as traditional programs, and the integration of free OneDrive cloud storage (all from Windows 8), the Cortana personal assistant and a notification centre (both from Windows Phone), virtual desktops, Windows Hello sign-on via face or fingerprint recognition, and better gaming capabilities with DirectX 12. Windows touch-oriented apps work much like Apple iOS/Google Android tablet apps. It s a good idea to use them because they are light weight, securely sandboxed, easy to install/uninstall, and get downloaded/updated from a known source the Windows Store. Windows free games, including Solitaire and Freecell, have been moved to the store to encourage people to use it. You will not get all Windows 10 s benefits if you use a Windows 7 PC that lacks a built-in camera or a touch screen. This was a major problem with Windows 8, but isn t with Windows 10, because Microsoft has brought back a Start menu and provided mouse/keyboard control for apps. Apps can now be resized and run on the desktop.

To sum up: Windows 7 users can ignore Windows 10 unless they want to use Cortana or apps or some other new feature. Windows 8/8.1 users should give the upgrade serious consideration, and should definitely upgrade if they don t have a touch-screen computer. Windows 8/8.1 users with touch-screen tablets should try Windows 10 in Continuum mode before they upgrade: Windows 10 is better for mouse users but may be worse for touch-tablet users. Business users should start planning to upgrade because it s now Windows as a Service . Instead of being fixed for three or more years until the next major version, Windows 10 is being continuously upgraded, based on how well it s working in real life. In this respect, it s like any web-based service, such as Gmail or Office 365. With Windows 10, you don t get left behind (like XP users), and you won t have to pay for expensive big-bang upgrades every few years.

Reasons to wait

Windows 10 was released in a somewhat unfinished state, and Microsoft is still improving both the code and the online installation procedure. If you wait, you will get a better product with less chance of the installation going wrong. As well as the regular patches, there are three significant upgrades on the way. The Windows 10 Fall Update, code-named Threshold 2, will arrive next month, perhaps on 2 November8. Two Redstone upgrades will appear next year.

Threshold 2 includes lots of bug fixes and cosmetic improvements, better performance, and some updated apps. It will also recognise product keys from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. There are some omissions for example, the Edge browser will still not support extensions but it looks more like the Windows 10 that Microsoft should have released. We don t know what will be in the Redstone 1 update, or when it will appear. However, it looks like a good target for late adopters who would previously have waited for Service Pack 1. (With continuous updates, there are no service packs, but the twice-yearly roll-ups serve much the same purpose.)

In general, I think Windows 10 after the Fall Update will be the best option for most people with newer computers, especially if they have touch screens. It also works well on older computers, in my experience, though the installation sometimes goes wrong. You can easily revert to your old OS, but make a backup just in case. For anyone buying a new PC, I d strongly recommend Windows 10 over Windows 8.1, and most manufacturers are launching new designs for Christmas. I wouldn t buy a Windows 7 PC today, but I still recommend them for many business users.

Have you got another question for Jack? Email it to

References

  1. ^ Windows 10 (www.theguardian.com)
  2. ^ Windows 7 (www.theguardian.com)
  3. ^ Microsoft (www.theguardian.com)
  4. ^ Windows (www.theguardian.com)
  5. ^ reviewed Windows (www.theguardian.com)
  6. ^ GWX Control Panel (blog.ultimateoutsider.com)
  7. ^ a YouTube video (www.youtube.com)
  8. ^ 2 November (www.thurrott.com)
  9. ^


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