time we’ve seen 9 major releases, and
being in IT I’ve been on what you might call the bleeding edge of those
upgrades. We’ve worked through countless
bugs, corrupt media, obsolete hardware and every other stumbling block you can
imagine. Suffice it to say, I had no
great expectations of Windows 10.
I’ve been working with Windows since version 3.0. That’s a span of about 25 years
now. In that
I’m happy to report that in all that time, I have never seen
an upgrade like Windows 10.
Every release required at minimum an upgrade to some piece
of hardware, be it memory, a new printer, or even some piece of software needed
an update to maintain “normal” operation.
Not only does Windows 10 perform an upgrade without those
requirements, but it excels in spite of them.
My home computer was a sturdy Windows 7 workhorse built
around 2009. It has a first-generation
Intel® i7 processor and a similarly aged motherboard. It has kept up pretty well on just about all
the modern software I throw at it.
After the free Windows 10 upgrade I can say it noticeably (not
much but a little) runs faster
in just about everything I’m trying to do.
My Windows 7 machine had been telling me for a few days it
was ready to upgrade. I’d signed up in
late June, so I knew I should be at the leading edge of the upgrades. I’d been holding off so I could take some
notes for my blog. I’d finally gotten
the moment and got to it.
First I closed all my running programs and took one last
look at how my desktop appeared pre-upgrade.
Then I opened up the installer and let it begin. Within about 30 seconds it rebooted my
Shortly after reboot the new installer screen came up. Showing a circular progress meter and giving
me some pretty decent information about what it was doing regarding copying
files, registering programs and other standard operations. Both my monitors (I have a dual monitor
setup) showed identical screens.
I noticed the circles were distended vertically – not sure
if it didn’t like the monitors I was using or what. As if the drivers weren’t properly loaded
(most likely the case). At about 31% I
got another reboot.
After the typical manufacturer screen I was greeted with a
black screen. No cursor or anything,
just completely black. I’m familiar with
this kind of thing so I glanced over at the hard drive activity indicator on my
computer and seeing activity I decided to wait it out. I waited a good 5 minutes or more before a
sudden reboot (I say sudden because there was no screen to give me any
The display came back up, with ROUND circles and 75%
done. Very promising. The progress display only appeared on my
primary monitor now. The other was
active, just showing a black screen.
In about 3 more minutes, without a reboot, I am presented
with a welcome and an opportunity to customize my computer. Knowing that there were some security
concerns I wanted to skip the default settings and get right into
The place to click and choose customizing is very
There’s no buttons, just
hyperlinked text. Once I found it I was
stepping through the items.
The first one was about sending my contact and calendar
details to Microsoft. I know this is so
Cortana (the voice-activated tool ala Siri) can work its magic and have some
hope in knowing what you’re talking about.
Since I don’t need to talk to my desktop computer
I skipped it along
with the typing and inking data, sharing my advertising ID and location &
I kept SmartScreen (which does a pretty good job keeping me
out of browsing trouble), but turned off “page prediction” so my browsing
habits aren’t sent to Microsoft.
At this point you’ll see Auto Connect to suggested open
hotspots which is terribly insecure
also disabled the ability to auto connect to networks shared by my
I think some of my contacts
might make bad wi-fi choices so I’d prefer to avoid any issues!
I decided to share the error and diagnostic info with
Microsoft and then changed my default programs for photos, web browsing, and
music to my favorite non-Microsoft choices (IrfanView, Chrome, and WinAmp respectively).
My new desktop was presented to me and I’m happy to say all
my customizations came right through.
From the favorites I’d listed in Windows Explorer to the pinned
applications in my start menu, it was all there. Even my custom Desktop add-on
Rainmeter was still there, providing me calendar, system and weather data as it
or 8, you’ll get the home version if you do the free
upgrade. Nothing could be farther from
the truth, as I am enjoying the pro version after upgrading from Windows 7
First off I needed to bust a myth. The myth was that if you had a professional
version of Windows 7
I then launched one of my Microsoft Office 2013 apps and
found that the startup took a long time.
It seemed to go through a new setup and authentication process which
took about 3 minutes before I could use my software, but no problems after
It seems like the high-gloss Windows feature Aero was
disabled for just about everything except the start menu.
Not a big deal but if you liked the
transparent title bars on your apps, you’ll definitely miss them. It seems they may be coming back in the next
few months so stay tuned for updates
I ran some old programs like WinAmp and SharePoint Designer
2007 without any hitches at all. Firefox
loaded up with my default 4 tabs even faster than it used to. Evernote launched considerably faster under
Windows 10 than 7.
One immediate gripe I had, and I’m probably alone in this,
is that Calculator changed significantly and the History feature now appears fixed
to the right, which makes the app wider instead of taller. Not the best for my widescreen monitors!
I’m happy to say I found this download which
restores my good old calculator. http://winaero.com/download.php?view.1795
While checking to see if my iPhone connected any easier, I
found that the movies would play natively in Windows
without any add-on software
or drivers. That was a very nice
You’ll notice that the start menu is a hodge-podge of both
the old vertical program menu plus the tiles loathed by so many from Windows
8. Good news – they’re all
Right-click to find the
unpin feature or pin them to the start menu for more ready access. Also, the start menu is fully
adjustable. Just click and drag the
right edge to bring it out in steps, and you can slide the top edge about
anywhere you want it.
The version of Mail that comes with Windows 10 now supports
and I understand even the calendar will sync to Google. Not long after Windows 8 release they dropped
support for Gmail so we’re glad to see it back.
After such a success, I grabbed my Windows 8.1 laptop and
fired off the upgrade. In about 20
minutes it was up and running in Windows 10.
Microsoft Office didn’t even blink – no lengthy setups and I was off and
If you find Windows 10 not to your liking after an upgrade,
you can roll back to your previous version
within 30 days. I understand that it works pretty smooth and
your programs, settings and data will remain intact.
are planned for Windows 10 in October
likely in the January-February
time frame so you won’t have to wait long if you’re
holding out for major bug fixes.
If you use a virtualizing tool like VirtualBox to host
virtual computers on your Windows machine, you will find they won’t work
after switching to Windows 10. I’m
sure there’s a fix in the works from VirtualBox but in the meantime if you rely
on it you should consider waiting.
I’m very surprised
at how easy and trouble-free the upgrade
was. Maybe surprised isn’t the best
work. Shocked. Amazed.
Speechless. Well, in any event, I’m
happy that I didn’t have to waste a bunch of time putting my system back
At the same time, there’s not a lot of change happening
here. Windows 8 was a massive change and
going from Windows 7 to 10 is nothing on that magnitude. Many of the same old Windows 7 menus exist
(even existed in Windows 8) so it’s not that big of a stretch.
I can say without qualification, if you dislike Windows 8
then do not hesitate to get Windows 10
you have Windows 7 I’d set aside a couple hours and try the upgrade. If it doesn’t work, you can roll it back, but
I think you’ll be happy with the choice.
Have any questions about Window 10 before you take the
plunge? Fire away in the comments!
Wade Stewart is the Managing Member of Stewart and Son Computer Services, LLC in University Place, WA and serves as a trusted partner to many local small and medium sized businesses.
You can read more from Wade at Stewart and Son by visiting the following blog sites:
Content Copyright Wade Stewart (C) 2015
Labels: computer, hardware, laptop, microsoft, networking, security, windows 10, windows 7, windows 8