First Impressions: Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Build 14393)

First Impressions: Windows 10 Anniversary Update (Build 14393)

Microsoft unleashed the Anniversary Update for Windows 10 (also known by it’s codename Redstone) last week(8/2). If you have Windows Pro, should you defer the upgrade? Is this update proving a point about how average users will be hurt by the always first update process required for Windows 10?

My System Configuration

So let’s start off with a little information about my PC here before we begin. I feel that hardware being used plays a huge part in your experience given how spotty Windows 10 issues have been for folks that I have read about online with previous updates or the upgrade to 10.

My system is a custom build composed of:

  • FX-8350 CPU (1st Gen/Metal Tin Packaging)
  • 32GB of Mushkin 1600Mhz DDR3 RAM
  • 240GB PNY XLR8 Pro SSD(OS Drive)
  • 240 GB PNY XLR8 Pro SSD scratch drive
  • 2 x 120GB (240GB RAID 0) PNY XLR8 SSD drives
  • MSI Radeon HD 7950 3GB GPU
  • ASUS M5A97 PLUS Motherboard
  • Soundblaster SE Soundcard
  • SYBA 2 x external USB3.0 ports PCI-e card
  • Windows 10 Pro 64-bit

As you can see, it’s a relatively recent system, however most parts are around 3 years old now. Except for the sound card. This I have had since my first PC build waaaayyyy back in 2007. It may be ancient in tech years, but it still works, has drivers for Windows 10 and produces awesome sound. So I am happy to keep using it.

Experience

So originally I had set my PC to do deferred updates as I thought it would be best to use my Pro feature to ensure stability over taking the cutting edge. I have been on the bleeding edge before and was burned quiet badly (Vista early adopter, although after SP1 & SP2 it became my favorite Windows to date). However, having this blog and the ability to help others, I thought why not give it a shot and see how bad the folks who have the standard Home edition have it? Surely it can’t be that bad if the home users are forced to use it. Right?

Multistep Process

I modified my update settings and checked for new ones. The new update pulled in quickly and surprisingly it waited for me to chose when to install it. I was able to shutdown and reboot at least once before my options became ‘Upgrade and Shutdown’ or ‘Upgrade and Restart’. Better than Windows 8.1 where it forced all those updates at me without an option. Although I can’t say that Windows ever really gives me a chance to fully control install times anymore.

Continued After Reboot

Eventually I kicked off the process doing an U’pgrade and Shutdown’ before going to bed. The next day I booted my machine to find it still needed to configure parts of the update. The please wait screen greeted me and stuck around for a good amount of time, I didn’t time it but I think it was somewhere between a half hour to an hour to complete. As I got tired of waiting, I started playing Mario Maker on the Wii U to pass some time. Eventually it finished and I was able to log in.

Quirks

At first, when I logged in everything appeared fine. Success! All my files and programs stayed! This was surprising as the November Update last year promptly wiped some of my applications and corrupted others requiring a clean reinstall. This appeared to be a different story. But then I noticed a few quirks.

Cortana

As I had done some reading about the update before installing it I knew Cortana was now mandatory. However I heard you could disable her to ensure she only searched locally. Looking at how to do just this I discovered an odd configuration as pictured below.

Installed where US-English is default language, but no US-English is found under Cortana's settings.
Somehow US-English wasn’t installed as an option, although my system is set to the proper region.

Hmmm, according to Microsoft Cortana is clearly supposed to be available in ‘US – English’ but the option is no where to be found, even though I have my region properly set to the US using English as my language. Strange, but it appears that this region issue with Cortana makes her think I am not in the US, but my OS thinks I am. Strange, but it disabled web search so if I type file names they don’t get sent out to Microsoft’s Bing servers. Not a big deal.

Corrupted Sound Card Driver and Misconfiguration

During the hunt to fix the region issue I stumbled across the text to speech settings. Curious to see test those features as I hadn’t previously in Windows 10 I found that the sound wasn’t working.

I opened the sound settings and discovered that through the upgrade it set my monitors to be my speakers since they are connected via HDMI. Ok, well I had changed that before, so this seems to be like an oversight in the upgrade process. Why would I want sound out of my monitors anyway? Mine don’t even have speakers?! Although they can pass though sound so I guess that’s why Windows see’s them as devices for output.

I switched this setting back to my Soundblaster, but didn’t get any luck. Ok, fine I’ll test the speakers using the tools in Windows. ‘Error: Could not test audio’. What? Ok, fine so I then went for the full proof option and uninstalled the device and rebooted to have it reinstall. Success! Although, seriously how does something like this happen?

Other Changes

There are numerous other changes that are present but not noticeable at first glance. There are tons of articles available online that outline these features, so I won’t rehash the same info. However I am enjoying the new dark theme for apps and the restructured Start menu. I had thought the Start menu reorganization would be a pain, but it’s actually barely noticeable.

Software Reinstalled

I didn’t take a full inventory, but I recall the Microsoft store icon showing back up in my task bar as well as seeing Microsoft Solitaire Collection show up as *NEW in the start menu. The good news though is that Candy Crush and the other bloatware(sponsored apps) did not reinstall. So it’s nice to see that this update didn’t force those back onto my machine. Although reinstalling any part of Windows I had removed/disabled seems a bit counter productive to the user. So not thrilled about that, but as it’s minimal, I can’t really complain too much.

Verdict

The Good

  • Easy no hassle upgrade process
  • The changes to Windows feel welcome and in place
  • New features are useful
  • Windows 10 is still the fastest and lightest modern Windows OS yet

The Bad

  • Depending on your hardware you may have issues with the upgrade as I did
  • Solitaire came back without my permission and the Windows store icon returned to my taskbar where I had once removed it.
  • Cortana can’t be turned off, but supposedly you can limit it to local search only. However I can’t figure out how to do that yet as my upgrade has the issues outlined in this article.
  • You may need a clean install. As I mentioned the easiest way to fix my quirks is to reinstall the OS.

The big thing is that to fix some of these quirks I would probably be best to reinstall the OS. I suppose I could do a ‘refresh’ and see how well that option works. That is the more consumer friendly method Microsoft has offered since Windows 8.1, but knowing how OS’s work I know a clean install would still be, well… cleaner. Knowing these updates are going to come more often I hope that future ones don’t cause these annoyances. I don’t want to refresh/reinstall my OS every time these upgrades come out.

As for Home edition users, good luck with these. I see there can be issues, but I hope they are fewer and far between than how often my custom built set up has them.

Final Thoughts

Although the new features are nice, I think I will be enabling my differed upgrades again. I would rather have a stable system than to stop everything and have to worry about these kinds of issues during the first few months of availability for upgrades. If you have Pro, you will have to weigh these options for yourself. As I tend to have issues due to my configuration, I will be waiting before hopping onto upgrade bandwagon.

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