When we got our Acer Veriton business class desktop a few years ago it came with Windows 7 and it was purchased just before the Windows 8 debacle – exactly for that reason. No way was I going to buy the next Vista.
Now Microsoft has apparently realized the error of its ways, and has made a free Windows 10 update available to anyone with Windows 7 or Windows 8 on their machines. What I’ve read online has indicated that Windows 10 is the real deal and worth the upgrade. So I signed up a while ago and today got notice that my upgrade was ready to install.
I’m no stranger to upgrades. I upgraded from Windows 95 to Windows 98 and from Windows Me to XP so I know it can be done with Windows. And I’ve done many an Ubuntu upgrade on the Linux side. There are some advantages to an upgrade as opposed to a completely clean install:
- You don’t lose all your personal data (although you’d better make sure you have a backup just in case.)
- You don’t have to reinstall all your programs or customized look and feel.
There are some disadvantages too:
- You can be certain any upgrade won’t be 100% smooth and easy. Some things won’t work with the new system.
- There is a small but finite chance you’ll brick your system completely. It has happened with this upgrade.
There isn’t much choice here though as the Microsoft “free” upgrade is coming via Windows Update and you have to use the OEM software licence that came with the desktop. They don’t give you another option.
Well as it turned out the upgrade went pretty well. After an automated check of my licence key, Microsoft made the upgrade files available in Windows Update. All I had to do was start the process. There were three phases:
- Copy over the files from the update.
- Install the software and drivers.
- Configure the system.
There were restarts after each phase and a progress “clock” kept track of things. The whole job was finished in about 45 minutes.
When I restarted and booted into Windows 10 for the first time, my video card settings were not working so I had a very ugly looking display. Another restart fixed this.
Then my BitDefender Internet Security didn’t start. I had to remove and reinstall BitDefender before it worked.
Finally an Intel Rapid Storage Technology Driver failed to launch. I was able to find the latest Windows 8.1 driver on Intel’s website and that worked fine. Pretty good considering all the complexity of an upgrade.
One of the “features” of Windows 10 is that they have bought back the Start button AND the Start menu. However the Start menu is (to use an oxymoron) pretty ugly. Unlike the sleek and useful Windows 7 Start menu, the Win 10 one has a bunch of weird “live tiles” winking and blinking at you. They aren’t as gross as they were in the Windows 8 Start screen but they are still there. Some of them are outright money makers for Microsoft like the offer for Live 365 Office. Others are social media apps or what passes for news these days. Personally I don’t want to see the fate of the Subway guy in my Start menu.
There are other features I find rather lame – such as another “Bing Search” box in the Taskbar Panel and an annoying personal assistant named Cortana.
Also I don’t want to sign onto my desktop with the same Microsoft Outlook account I use on my laptop. If you do that the dumb software synchronizes both machines and you get a brain dead low res laptop display on your big screen desktop. Lots of work to be done.
I started out by signing onto the desktop machine with a “Local Account” instead of the Microsoft one. I can’t buy those flashy apps from the Microsoft Store but who cares?
Next I unpinned all the live tiles from the Start Menu. Better but still ugly. I decided to install Classic Shell and replace the Windows 10 Start button with the classy Windows 7 orb I am familiar with.
Then I dismissed Cortana, disabled Bing and hid the Search box from the Taskbar. Now we’re talking. The result can be seen above. Windows 10 technical advantages and Windows 7 look and feel. Windows the way I like it.
Some days it’s good to be a geek. I am sure there are a lot of folks out there who will upgrade to Windows 10, be unhappy with the look and feel but won’t know how to fix it. Maybe I can help them, now that I know a trick or two.
Is Windows 10 my new favorite O/S? Nah. I’m finishing up this post on Linux Mint 17.