Windows 10: Feel Free To Upgrade

Windows 10: Feel Free To Upgrade

Earlier this year I wrote a piece titled: Windows 10: Don’t Upgrade Just Yet! and now I officially remove this prior suggestion based on the updates including the November patch (1511). Why the change in opinion? Read on to find out.

Some Backstory

At the beginning of December I purchased myself a copy of Windows 10 Pro to install on my desktop. Previously I was running Linux Mint 17.2, however there are still some programs that I use that are only available on Windows. Looking at what value this software provides and that finding replacements and going through the loss of productivity to switch, I found it wasn’t worth the effort to keep Mint as my workhorse. So, Windows it was as buying a Mac was out of the questions for many reasons.

Windows 10 was picked as the terms for how the free upgrade would work if I bought 8.1 were not all that clear and I didn’t want to be stuck with hardware/performance issues down the road with hardware upgrades as 10 takes over if I got stuck on 8.1. Pro was picked because not only would I like the option to defer updates when a bad one is released(that already happened by the way). Also, I should be able to have more granular control available through additional group policy options etc. Not to mention I think I will be playing with Hyper-V and possibly a Linux based AD as well as having the ability to RDP into my desktop. The extra features are things I will use. Although for many, standard 10 will be enough.

Why the recommendation change?

So, why the change in opinion? Windows 10 update 1511 (could be considered SP1) was released. This is the first major update to the OS which means they have done a significant amount of updates/patches/and enhancements. This means it’s more stable, more capable and better to a degree where you can notice it. For me this reminds me of the service packs that were released on older versions of Windows. I had a computer teacher once in high school state that was a Service Pack 2 kind of guy. This meant he waited to upgrade to the latest version until the second service pack as generally that meant things were stable and reliable. Microsoft no longer does service packs, but if you want stability and reliability it is always wise to hold off on upgrades until it’s been in the wild long enough for real world usage to find what in house testing couldn’t. So by that rule, it was time to upgrade and the number of patches and changes seem to fit the bill.

In addition to the 1511 update being released, I also spoke to numerous others who had jumped on the upgrade wagon and most of their woes were related to the activation process being hindered by the large volume of initial upgrades(they upgraded August/September) and that they basically needed a clean install once upgrading their 7 or 8 install. Those who waited until late September/October fared better luck. However these numbers are extremely statistically insignificant and really can’t be correlated to anything. However with hardware and software vendors still adding support for 10 well after it’s launch it wouldn’t be crazy to think that waiting to ensure that their drivers/apps updates have had time to mature hasn’t helped at least a few folks out there. So the devices compatible and that work with 10 should be continuing to expand making it more likely that you won’t have issues.

Lastly I have now used Windows 10 and can personally attest that it is so far the best Windows OS that I have used to date. Sure it still has tiles and Modern apps, but honestly, Apple did those first(launched the Mac App Store 2011) and it should bring a unified experience to those who use multiple Windows 10 devices and form factors. Also, the apps are now able to run in separate windows(unlike 8) making them more like desktop apps. So apps can be as basic as the gadgets introduced in Vista or as complex as Office. I haven’t found myself using many apps, however one I do enjoy is the Xbox app which enables me to check in to see who’s online, what they are playing and even chat with them from my PC. So even if you don’t like it, there probably are a few apps you will find yourself using. It’s no longer the jarring limited experience it was on 8.

Performance

So it’s stable, but what about performance? Well Windows 10 is speedy. Like speedy enough that if you are running 7 you should upgrade just for the performance boost. I have experienced both on the same hardware Windows 10 just feels more smooth and polished. Yes Aero is still gone; which is where some of the performance gain comes from. But that was a dated look and feel. Seriously it was dated and you will likely feel this the case as well after spending some time getting over the initial shock of the change. And you shouldn’t miss it either. Windows can still be transparent, just less fake glass aesthetic which is nice.

Additionally, Windows 10 has all the latest hardware support and updates unlike 7/8/8.1. An example? If you are running 7 and have an AMD FX processor or APU, you aren’t able to get maximum performance from them without optional CPU scheduler patches due to the new architecture style that was released and only included in 8 by default. So all hardware optimizations are built in and as new tech is released it should be included as long as 10 is being supported with its rolling release style updates.

Mostly though, it just feels better. And at the end of the day, feeling like the machine is more stable and more responsive is a great thing. Will 10 make your PC ultra fast? No, but the marginal gains above previous versions does exist and feels tangible which is better than it getting slower.

Regarding Privacy

If you are concerned about Microsoft sifting through your files or stealing your data you shouldn’t worry. There has been no evidence found of these things and the privacy policy was updated to better clarify what is collected. The only thing is if you use all the integration features such as calendar, mail, Cortana, etc you can expect these apps will need access to your data to do so. Just like your Windows, iOS or Android phone uses data. Although I feel Microsoft really hasn’t done a good job of making it feel the same. To be honest the mindset of data on desktop vs phone does seem a bit unnerving, I feel that part of it is due to smart phones having it from the start and desktops now ‘losing’ it through almost default settings to give the more integrated unified experience you can have on your phone. However, unlike how I remember the previews, there is a full Privacy section in the settings app that gives you full control over what data is used by what. Although not as elegant as iOS, it is available and allows you to lock things down tight. I locked my PC down as tight as I do for my iPhone with data permissions. No more worries of if One Drive is syncing without permission or what other data is being sent to MS (at least for me).

Final Thoughts

So there you have it, if you have been holding off, now or later is as good of time as ever to upgrade. The initial real world experience the OS needed to mature has come and gone making it a substantially better platform than at launch. This coupled with increased software and hardware support makes it a solid upgrade that shouldn’t give you too many issues. As best practice, don’t forget to back up your data before upgrading and contact your PC’s manufacturer if you have any questions on compatibility or upgrade issues.

~Trevor

Have you upgraded to Windows 10? Did you do so from an existing install? How did it work for you? Let us know in the comments!

 

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