Windows 10 – Worth It?

Whether you’re ready or not, Windows 10 will be coming to a PC near you (Apple and Linux users excepted of course.) Microsoft is going out of its way to get existing Windows 7 and 8 users to upgrade, and there are rumblings that Windows 10 will become an “optional” Windows Update candidate in future – you’ll start your computer one day and you’ll have a whole new Operating System in place.

Should you worry about that? Or should you bother upgrading now? Well, a lot of articles have already been written about Windows 10 and you can research them at your leisure. Or you can read my perspective here – which is that of Grandpa Geek helping other seniors cope. Your choice. Here’s my take with some random thoughts.

  • Microsoft has largely gotten it right with Windows 10. They have made an operating system that’ll work OK on a smartphone/tablet or on a keyboard and mouse desktop, and haven’t tried to force either method on the other. They put the Start button and Menu back. You don’t have to use a touchscreen if you don’t want to. The annoying “Modern” apps and tiles are still around but they are much less in your face and you can get rid of them easily. If you’re an old school keyboard/mouse user you can buy a new laptop or desktop without fear.
  • There are other advantages. Windows 10 starts faster and runs faster. It seems to be better adapted to the multicore processors of today and it has all the latest 3D DirectX technology if you’re a gamer. It’ll be supported for a much longer time than Windows 7.
  • If you currently run Windows 8 or 8.1, an upgrade is a no-brainer. You’ll enjoy the Start button, unobtrusive menu and best of all – no Charms Bar nonsense.
  • If you run Windows 7 and are happy with it, I see less reason to upgrade if you don’t want to. Most of Windows 10’s new features let you use a touchscreen or talk to a search “helper” named Cortana. These are of limited interest to most folks with old school hardware. That said, I upgraded a 2012 era Windows 7 desktop and my wife – the anti-geek around here – is coping just fine with it. Other seniors I know have had a learning curve or got into Tablet Mode and lost their desktop icons without knowing why.
  • To make Windows 10 really look like Windows 7 you need Classic Shell installed. I’ve done this on both my installations and I would really recommend this free add-on to any senior. You’ll then get a classic old school Start Menu and the flashing tiles will be hidden away unless you really want to see them – not! The picture above is my laptop with Classic Shell and any Windows 7 user would be happy with it. I have also banished Cortana and her search box from my taskbar.
  • Microsoft being Microsoft do not expect a seamless upgrade. I’ve now upgraded a Windows 7 machine and a Windows 8.1 laptop to Windows 10 and both gave problems.
    Some were minor niggles such as an Intel hard drive accelerator or an AMD video card enhancement program failing to run. Others were major – my security suite failed to start and I had to uninstall it and reinstall an updated Windows 10 version. Also my chosen wifi adapter was offline and I had to fix that. Nothing a geek can’t handle but could be problematic for someone less techy. The best way to be sure Windows 10 will work without fail is to get a new system with it installed from the get-go. But you knew that already.
  • The most annoying feature of Windows 10 is that when you shut it down, you don’t really shut it down. Windows 8 is the same. If you do a software upgrade that requires a reboot make sure you select Restart from the menu. Do not shut down as this simply puts the machine to sleep and any changes you made will not stick. This has caused my senior “clients” all kinds of problems – especially with security updates.
  • Windows 10 is a major upgrade. It’ll take a couple of hours to download, copy files, install and configure itself. it’s all done without your input – except you choose to keep all your files and programs, natch! Your computer will be out of service during this time.
    Before you start make sure you disconnect your printer, external hard drive etc. – everything except mouse and keyboard. Also turn off the screensaver or set it to never come on – especially make sure the machine will not go to sleep during the installation process. This has caused repeated failures for Windows 10 to install.
    There is a limited chance you’ll brick your system – if the upgrade fails you’ll be back to Windows 7 or 8.

To summarize, a Windows 10 upgrade is definitely worth a try if you have Windows 8 on a fairly new PC. If you have Windows 7 on an older one I’d say the new features won’t be of interest and it probably isn’t worth it. Of course if you want the latest DirectX gaming features on a new video card I’d upgrade – but how many seniors are like that?

Sadly in my seniors group the ones most interested in upgrading are the ones who have older, non touchscreen slow laptops running Windows 7. I can’t convince them to let sleeping dogs lie. I get ready to fix what wasn’t broken previously.

The best solution of all is to wait until a new machine is needed and then get Windows 10 on it fully installed, configured and checked out. Or maybe choose Apple. Or install Linux. Can’t be any worse than troubleshooting a quirky Windows 10 “upgrade.”


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