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It’s been a busy week for Windows 10 news.
And naturally, I’ve been getting questions about Windows 10 for some time…
This week, Microsoft announced that Windows 10 will be released on July 29th. EXACTLY what that means, and exactly what will happen on that day isn’t clear, but that’ll get clearer as we get closer.
At the same time, Windows Update installed a little icon and app on many Windows 7 and 8 machines that offered to “Get Windows 10”. It scared a few people, since it kinda behaved like malware, appearing without notice or request.
It’s legit. A little annoying, perhaps, since it’s really only marketing, and unfortunately not good marketing at that, but it’s safe. I wrote up more on that in this article earlier this week.
I’ve played with the Windows 10 preview a little and wanted to share some of my initial impressions.
To begin with, and as I mentioned in an earlier article on Ask Leo!, don’t let your experience with Windows 8 color your expectations for 10.
Windows 8 was more of a political and PR mistake than a technical one – it’s a fine OS in my opinion – but too many things were just handled poorly and weren’t completely thought out.
Windows 10 addresses a lot of concerns, and I’m pretty hopeful it’ll succeed in ways that 8 didn’t.
If you follow the “every other operating system from Microsoft succeeds” way of thinking – Win 98, good, Win ME bad, Win XP very good, Vista not so much, Win 7 good, Windows 8, a PR nightmare – Windows 10 stands a chance.
I will say this: the encouragement to sign in to your machine using a Microsoft account like your Hotmail or Outlook.com account is still there, pretty much like Windows 8.1.
I went all in in my tests and set up my Windows 10 machine with a Microsoft account. It’s really not that horrible, and some features definitely worked more cleanly when you’re set up that way.
Naturally, I strongly recommend you take all steps to protect your Microsoft account – including setting up a recovery code, and possibly enabling two-factor authentication – whether or not you use it for machine login.
The account’s just too important, and I see too many people locked out on a daily basis because they didn’t prepare.
And, no, if you enable two factor authentication, you won’t need two factor to login to your machine every time.
In terms of new features, well,
You already know the Start menu is back. It’s somewhat different than the Windows 7 start menu, but in the long run, more flexible and customizable. (And I expect Classic Shell to work on 10 as well if you want your Windows 7, XP or even Windows NT style start menu).
OneDrive appears to be back, and working the way we expect, as opposed to whatever it was they did to it in Windows 8.1.
The Spartan Browser? Meh. To be honest, I’m happy with Chrome, so I’m not really sure yet WHY I need Spartan, but I’ll give it a chance.
As a web developer, it’s one more browser I need to test against, and yes, Ask Leo! seems to come up on it OK.
I wasn’t able to test Cortana, because I couldn’t get the microphone to work in my virtual machine. Typed search seemed to work as expected – as good as Windows 8.
Yes, there are … issues. Decisions, really.
For example, no more media center. Microsoft has simply canceled that project.
Also, those who have Home edition of Windows 10 will not be able to defer updates … updates will be installed when they’re made available. Pro and better users will be able to defer updates as before. Yet another reason I always recommend Pro or better when choosing a Windows edition.
So overall to me, it looks very promising, and a solid platform for the future. I am looking forward to it.
So the big question: SHOULD YOU UPDATE?
Today, absolutely not. It’s not done. It’s not released, it’s not supported. Unless you’re a geek who knows how to evaluate it safely – such as in a virtual machine, as I’ve done – then you should simply wait.
There’s no compelling reason to update right now, and every reason for the average consumer not to.
So, what about July 29th?
I’ll throw out a qualified “maybe”.
First: if you’re getting a new machine and it comes with Windows 10 – go for it. I see no reason not to let Windows 10 be there.
I wouldn’t necessarily delay getting a machine specifically to get Windows 10. Yes, the upgrade will take a little work when the time comes, but it’ll be free if you do it within a year, so … you have a year.
For existing machines, I’d actually have most folks wait a month or two as a kind of cautious “let’s see how it goes” when it’s really released.
Complex software like this is bound to still have issues that won’t become apparent until it hits the street.
Assuming it’s relatively solid, then after a couple of months – say September or October if the schedule holds – I’d divide the world into three buckets:
- XP and Vista users: if your machine supports it; if the software you need to run runs on Windows 10, then I’d upgrade. Get current & more importantly get supported.
- Windows 7 and Windows 8 users that are content: I’d take my time. Sort of an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of deal. Yes, I’d probably have you upgrade eventually, but that’s as much to take advantage of the free upgrade than anything else.
- Unhappy Windows 8 users: upgrade. Just do it. I’m sure there will be things about 10 that still irritate you, but my sense is that there will be far fewer of them.
And in ALL cases: when you upgrade, BACK UP FIRST. Image backup – the entire machine.
Operating systems are incredibly complex – simply because there are hundreds of thousands – maybe millions – of possible combinations of hardware and configurations.
Somewhere, something will go wrong for someone,
If that someone is you, you’ll be glad you have a backup you can restore to.