Windows 10 Upgrade

I’ve been working with Windows since version 3.0.  That’s a span of about 25 years now.  In that
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’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. 

Diving Into The Upgrade

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 computer.

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 indications).
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 customizing. 

The place to click and choose customizing is very small.  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 & location history.

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.  I also disabled the ability to auto connect to networks shared by my contacts.  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).

Ready to Play

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 had before.

First off I needed to bust a myth.  The myth was that if you had a professional version of Windows 7
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 Professional.

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 that.

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.   

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 surprise.

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 customizable.  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 Google Mail 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 running. 


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.

Major updates are planned for Windows 10 in October and 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 anymore 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 together. 

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.  If 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. 

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Content Copyright Wade Stewart (C) 2015

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