Become a Patron of Ask Leo! and go ad-free!
Let’s clear up some misunderstandings about Windows 10, shall we? I received a question earlier this week from someone who basically was stuck with Windows XP right now and is wondering what to upgrade to, whether Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10. I’m sure the question that a lot of people are having right now especially with Windows 10’s free offer, coming to an end, confirmed coming to an end at the end of this July.
So I don’t, I haven’t changed my opinion on what you should do. That still is covered in an earlier article that I will update some time in the next, I don’t know, month or two. Certainly before the deadline draws near and I’ll also have a couple of suggestions as to what you might want to do to try and preserve that free upgrade even if you’re not necessarily going to take advantage of it right away.
So for now, my recommendation such as it is, stands. If you’re happy with Windows 7 or 8, there’s no compelling reason to update. If you’re running Windows XP or Windows Vista, it’s time to start considering it and what this person of course was wondering is well, should I go to Windows 10 or should I upgrade to something “safer”, so to speak, Windows 7 was what he was suggesting.
The problem of course was that there were some misconceptions that he outlined about Windows 10 in his email and like I said, I don’t have a specific answer about whether you should or should not upgrade to Windows 10. It’s the right answer for a lot of people; it’s the wrong answer for a lot of people but more than anything, I want to make sure that any decision you make is made on accurate or as accurate as we can provide, information.
And that’s why I want to take just a couple of minutes and clear up some of these misunderstandings. The first one, of course, is this phrase, “cloud-based”. He said that Windows 10 is “cloud-based”, and to be honest, I’m not really sure what that means. The short answer is no, it’s not. It’s as cloud-based as Windows 8 was or even Windows 7 to that degree.
Yes, there are some hooks that allow you to do cloud-based things more easily, I’ll say. One Drive is integrated into the operating system in various ways that may or may not meet your needs depending on whether or not you are a One Drive user or even care about that. And of course, you can log in to your machine using your Microsoft account rather than a local machine account. That is certainly cloud-based, if you will, but again it’s not a requirement.
You can certainly continue to use your Windows 10 PC pretty much the way you’ve been using your Windows 7 PC or an earlier version. There’s nothing that really requires any additional cloud hooks or anything like that at all. And I certainly would nowhere near come close to saying that it was cloud-based. That’s simply not true. Like I said, it’s got to be some kind of a misunderstanding.
Subscription-oriented. So this is one of those persistent things that just won’t go away. It’s not. There are two things at play here: One, is that Microsoft early on, when they were talking about Windows 10 and the new features of Windows 10, talked about it being software as a service, which really is kind of, sort of vague and fuzzy anyway.
All that really means from their perspective is that they were going to be more proactive about delivering updates and providing functionality on the internet not necessarily, you know, not necessarily cloud-based as I was saying that earlier point but there were certainly things that were going to use the internet. It did not any way, shape or form mean that they were going to start charging a recurring fee.
That’s not what “software as a service” means. And it’s not actually what subscription means. You can certainly subscribe to things that are free. You can certainly subscribe to things that are one-time payment. And to the degree that Windows 10 is either a one-time payment if you picked it up retail or you’re upgrading for free, that’s a subscription. You’re there and they will not start charging an anuual or a monthly or any kind of a fee.
That’s just not part of the plan. Microsoft actually has come out a couple of times since those original announcements and clarified that they do not plan to charge a recurring fee for Windows 10. Just like every version of Windows before it, it’s a one-time purchase. Unless of course, unlike versions before it, you did elect to upgrade free before the end of July.
So let’s get that one out of the way. No control over updates. Now this is one where the truth is somewhere inbetween the absolutes. In the past, we’ve been used to a very high degree of control over our updates. In other words, in Windows XP specifically as a great example, yes, you can pick and choose which updates to get, whether or not you want them, when you want them, how you’re notified, whether anything is installed automatically, and so forth.
Depending on the version of Windows 10 you have, that level of control is pretty much gone away. You’re right. However, I would not call it, “no control”. You do have some control. The big piece of control you have still (again, I believe it’s in some version of Windows 10) is that you can at least elect to defer new functionality.
So what that means is that important updates, security updates and those kinds of things will come on schedule basically, I’ll say without much you can really do about it, but new features and functionality, you can in fact, specify that you don’t want new features and functionality. You’re going to defer those to some future date.
It’s a level of control that I know a lot of people aren’t comfortable with and I kind of sort of get that. Microsoft has a bad reputation for stability when it comes to updates that, to be honest, they need to do a much, much better job of making us feel better about that before we can really feel good about this, but it is what it is.
In the long run, if we can assume some kind of stability that we can count on, I’m a firm believer that this actually is the right solution. When we take a look at some of the other software packages that we have on our machines that update regularly or automatically, those updates aren’t granular.
At best, you get a choice of when to take the entire update and yes, in most cases you get a choice in saying if you want the entire update but don’t get any kind of granular level control. It’s an “either/or” and in fact as soon as you say, “No, I don’t want this update” you’re then prevented from getting all future updates for whatever that software might be. In other words, if you want to move forward, you need to take the updates that the manufacturer provides.
Windows is moving in that same direction and if we can only rely on stability for updates, I belive that is absolutely the right thing to do. Given that Microsoft continues to get a fair amount of flack for updates that aren’t as stable as we would want them to be, I can only hope that’s going to improve over time but it’s not “no control”. You have some control; just not as much control as we would like.
Unwanted features. You know, that’s true. You do get unwanted features in Windows 10, which is pretty much like every Windows before it. In fact, it’s pretty much like every version of every operating system to come before Windows 10. There’s always stuff in the operating system that we don’t want or that we don’t use or that we don’t care about.
I have a bunch of stuff that comes with an update on my Macs, for example, that I don’t want. I just don’t want, I’ll never, ever use it. It’s taking up space; it’s too much for trouble for me to actively go in and remove it because I know the next time I take an update on it, certainly a major update, it’s going to come back. The same thing is true of Windows. The same thing is true of Windows 10 and it’s also been true of every version of Windows before that.
Yep, every version of Windows we’ve been talking about, we’ve had this discussion, basically. Every single time and that is you know, we just got Windows XP, well, there’s this feature that I don’t like and I don’t want it and how do I make it go away? Same thing happened with Windows 7; same thing happened with Windows 8 and the same thing is happening again with Windows 10. It’s honestly nothing new and it’s certainly nothing specific to Windows 10.
“Unorganized privacy controls” was the phrase that he used. I agree that privacy is a really, really interesting issue when it comes to Windows 10 and I use “interesting” in the Chinese proverb sense. “May you live in interesting times” is generally considered a curse. But the concern here, of course, is not so much that the privacy controls are disorganized, which I admit, they are, but that we really don’t know what privacy is going on.
There have been so many stories and so many misinterpretations and misunderstandings of what Windows 10 is doing with respect to privacy and on one hand we have people saying that it’s the worst thing ever. On the other hand, we’ve got people saying no, this is the saying that we’ve been doing for a long time or this is really benign. They don’t care about you specifically. They’re using aggragate data to make the operating system better.
Regardless, yep, privacy is something that has a lot of people concerned. That one I absolutely understand. The disorganized controls, to be honest, I’d raise that a level. I would say that the Control Panel, in general is currently quite disorganized and I believe that’s because Microsoft made an interesting decision.
Rather than taking extra time to completely replace the existing Control Panel with their new settings interface which is actually more of an Windows 10 style interface. If you ever take a look at Control Panel, it’s a plain, old application like we’ve had since we had Windows XP.
But if you take a look at the new Windows 10 style settings, of course, it’s a different look and a feel, and it’s a different interface to many of the same controls that we’ve had in the past. Rather than change absolutely everything all at once, they’ve been making incremental changes. They’ve been moving things from Control Panel into the new settings interface. The result is that it’s kind of hard sometimes to know where to look to find some of those things. I totally get that.
The good news here is that, from my perspective at any rate, is that Windows own Search – not using Cortana. Cortana is a completely different discussion and I’ve got it turned off. There’s no reason you need to have it running unless you want it running but just using Windows search, you can pretty quickly find almost every Control Panel setting that you might not be able to find.
So the one thing I would recommend you do is get a little bit more comfortable with Search. Search is Windows 10 is actually pretty darned good and does a really good job not only of locating those things within Windows 10 itself that perhaps you’ve lost track of but when you get to that level, you can absolutely use it to find your files on your machine or integrate with web search if you like; I mean there’s a lot of power under that very, very simple interface.
Finally, and this is a discussion that I’ve had with a number of people and it’s also one where my position is perhaps a little bit less. I’ll just say it’s probably a little bit controversial. Many people feel that Windows 10 is dramatically different than Windows versions that preceded it. My take actually is that it’s not. That’s not to say that there’s a lot of things that haven’t changed; there have been, absolutely. Take a look at the Start menu; take a look at the settings application. Take a look at any number of things, that well, you look at. My position, though, is that once you get passed that; once you get passed the way the functionality is expresse; the way the functionality is displayed. In other words, the user interface, 90% of it is still Windows. It’s the same Windows you’ve come to know and love or know and hate depending on where you’re at on that spectrum, but it’s the same thing under the hood, yes.
The engine is the same; it’s still Windows, heck it’s Windows 8 with a new user interface. So I’m a little bit relunctant to say that it’s been completely changed because it hasn’t been. It’s the same operating system with a new coat. You may dislike the look and feel of that coat; you may wish that they had left some things alone.
Again, I totally get that but one of the reasons that I say that is that if, for example, you’re running Classic Shell, in other words, you’ve elected to use Classic Shell to replace the Start menu, to give you a Start menu that you are more familiar with, a Start menu that perhaps that is more Windows 7 in style rather than the existing Windows 8 (I’m sorry, Windows 10) style.
If you walk up to that machine, running Classic Shell with Windows 7 style menus, it actually takes a while for people to realize that it’s not Windows 7. Now if you can actually make this thing look and feel like Windows 7 and have people not even recognize that, to me that means just the veneer got changed. Everything under the hood is the same. Everything is a strong word. There’s been lots of changes throughout but the majority of the operating system and I’ll stick with 90% is still the same.
There’s a lot of changes, a lot of issues, I understand that; there’s a lot of user interface things that people are concerned about. There’s a lot of hardware compatibility, certainly, that has come up that people are concerned about with respect to printers but I want to be clear that this is still the same old Windows in a lot of ways, a lot of fundamental ways and a lot of important ways and I believe that’s pretty critical to making at least an informed decision or a better informed decision on whether or not Windows 10 is the right answer for you.
I’ll say it again, it’s not the right answer for everybody. I certainly am not saying that everybody needs to run out and upgrade to Windows 10, but I at least want that decision to be a consciouis decision made on information that at least is a little bit more accurate than some of the misconceptions I keep hearing on a fairly regular basis.
So, with that, as always, you know the drill by now, I hope. If you’re watching this anywhere but on askleo.com, come on over, here’s the link to the page that has this video, moderated comments will be there. I read them all. I may not have the time to answer every single one of them but I absolutely read every single one of them.
I’m really interested in where you’re at with respect to Windows 10 right now? Do these kinds of misconceptions clarify it? Does that help at all? Does that help you understand a little bit what we’re looking at? I’m curious as to what people are deciding.
Like I said, in the next couple of months, I will be upgrading my Windows 10 recommendation and what to do when something just before the free offer runs out but for now, the existing article that I updated I think just a couple of months ago, still has a pretty accurate reflection of just where I think I am on the, “Should I upgrade to Windows 10” spectrum.
So with that, leave a comment below. I will see you again next week. As always, I’m Leo Notenboom. Thanks for watching. This is askleo.com. As always, remember, be safe, have fun and of course, don’t forget to back up. Take care.
- Should I Upgrade to Windows 10? – The most common question related to Windows 10 seems to be “Should I upgrade?” I’ll cover my recommendations.