Everyone that’s even been near a computer this last year has probably seen the message from Microsoft, encouraging you to upgrade to Windows 10. They have been offering this as a free upgrade for users who are currently running Windows 7 or 8 (including 8.1).
Many people have said the freebie offer was made because of the huge number of complaints about Windows 8. Another view is that there are ‘hidden profits’ for Microsoft by getting more people to Windows 10.
Whatever their motives though, the freebie offer runs out on July 29th 2016. After this date, upgrading your current computer will cost you $120 or more. So – should you accept Microsoft’s ‘generous’ offer, and make the upgrade to Windows 10, or stay where you are?
When it was first released, nearly a year ago, Windows 10 had problems. Many people that upgraded had bad experiences. We advised most people to wait until Microsoft had ‘ironed the bugs out’ before upgrading.
A year down the track, and Windows 10 has matured quite nicely. It’s now a solid and reliable option.
But that doesn’t necessarily make it a good option for you.
For a start, there’s quite a lot of new things to learn if you upgrade to Windows 10, and for many (especially the more casual computer users amongst us), this hassle could easily be more than any the benefits you’ll get. So, if you don’t like change (especially computer change…) and if you’re getting what you want out of your PC as it is, we’d recommend that you ignore Microsoft’s offer, and stay with your current Windows! Next time you purchase a computer, it will no doubt have Windows 10 already installed, but that will be a better option for you than changing your existing system over.
The biggest factor in deciding whether to upgrade to Windows 10 is the age of your computer. The most recent computers are designed to handle Windows 10 without any fuss. If your computer is was manufactured before August 2013, however, you are more likely to experience problems as a result of upgrading. The same goes for hardware (like your printer) – if they are older than 2-3 years old, you may run into trouble.
I’ve come to really like Windows 10, but my first three days after upgrading were spent fixing things that had broken – and I fix computers for a living! If you’re not great at troubleshooting and fixing PC problems (that’s a lot of us, really), these kind of problems could be real infuriating, and you would likely need to turn to a geek to sort them out.
For this reason, we strongly recommend only updating to Windows 10 if your computer was manufactured (not purchased) after August 2013. This still doesn’t guarantee a pain-free upgrade, but makes it much more likely. If your computer was manufactured before this date, and is running well on, for example, Windows 7, we’d seriously recommend you staying with your current version of Windows.
If your computer runs Vista, you should absolutely stay where you are! (The upgrade to 10 isn’t free in your case, for a start).
If your computer had Windows 8 or 8.1 on it when you bought it, though, the decision is a no-brainer – we’d recommend that you take advantage of Microsoft’s generous offer of a free copy of Windows 10. Most Windows 8 and 8.1 users will be glad they upgraded. Windows 10 gets rid of many of the horrors that were introduced with Windows 8, and brings back many of the much loved features of Windows 7. For example, Windows 8 required you to have a Microsoft account to use it (what the heck!?), but Windows 10 makes a Microsoft account optional (although, without one, some features of Windows 10 won’t be available). The Start menu has also been returned, too, after so many complaints about it going missing in Windows 8.
If your computer was a Windows 7 machine when you bought it, and you’ve since upgraded to Windows 8 or 8.1, it gets a bit trickier. Upgrading to 10 will improve your computing experience – Windows 8 is regarded as one of the worst operating systems in recent times. However, if your computer is older than a few years, you might find that having gone from 7 to 8 to 10 is too much for the old girl – you might have problems. If you want to be free of Windows 8, doing a ‘factory reset’ and getting Windows 7 back might be a better option for you (be warned, though – factory resets don’t always work, and can leave your system inoperable).
There is a feature built into Windows that will check and see if your computer is suitable for upgrading, but it doesn’t always give the correct answer (especially in regard to your accessories, like printers). Another method is to check with your computer’s manufacturer (go to their website) and see if they say your particular model is compatible. Again, this won’t always give a guaranteed answer – but it’s going to give you another perspective, at least.
If you do upgrade to Windows 10 and have problems, the good news is that you can ‘roll-back’ your computer to the state it was in before the upgrade – and continue on just like before. This ‘reverse’ feature seems to work well, but as with all things Windows, there are no guarantees – it’s quite possible that upgrading will introduce problems that prevent the ‘roll-back’ from working.
Another reason to not upgrade is if you rely on Windows Media Centre. As of Windows 10, it is no longer supported, and if you upgrade, you will have to use an alternative. Windows 10 doesn’t even have a video player built in! (This is because Microsoft want to push people over to using their Xbox as a media player.)
Users of OneDrive should also do some research before upgrading to 10, as problems with this service can occur, too.
Like it or hate it, Windows 10 also features voice control and voice searching, thanks to ‘Cortana’ – a feature based on artificial intelligence. There’s actually a whole lot of extra ‘usability’ features in Windows 10, which are surprisingly … well … useable!
More and more we are seeing our devices and services collecting our information and usage patterns – ‘data harvesting’ as it has become known. Windows 10 brings this to your home computer in a big way.
Most companies that collect our data do so with a legitimate reason: to understand us better, so as to deliver a personalised experience. And, we enjoy the benefits of that every time we use Google, for example.
There are those that argue that this mass collection of information about our behaviour is not entirely in our best interests. While there’s virtually no likelihood whatsoever of your credit card data falling into the hands of a petty cyber-criminal, some say that data harvesting leads us towards the possibly of becoming a tightly monitored and controlled society like the one that George Orwell described in his nightmarish novel, Brave New World.
I don’t know if we should be worried about our every digital detail being recorded. You can limit the amount of data that Microsoft receives from your computer by changing Windows 10s settings, but you can’t stop it completely – some of your data will always be sent to Microsoft, for whatever uses they choose. It’s interesting, too, that Microsoft haven’t stated what they are going to do with the data it collects.
There’s a few issues raised here. But despite these, Windows 10 is a solid operating system, and many are calling it the ‘best Windows yet’.
If you’re still unsure of whether or not to upgrade, give us a call on 0422 345 350 (Lismore area).
How to upgrade to Windows 10
If you decide to upgrade to Windows 10, there’s a few things you absolutely should do first. Here’s a list:
- Make a backup of all of your important documents, photos, videos, etc. With any Windows upgrade, there’s always a chance of losing everything.
- Do a good virus scan and remove any that are found, using a program like Malwarebytes Anti Malware. (Most anti-virus programs don’t stop all viruses, unfortunately, and they are the most likely thing to crash a Windows upgrade.)
- Check to make sure your hardware (printers, video cards etc.) are compatible with Windows 10 (in other words, has the manufacturer released Windows 10 driver software for the piece of hardware?)
- Update any software (programs or applications) on your computer.
- Do a ‘clean up’ – remove and software that you don’t use, any old, ‘junk’ files, temporary files, etc.
Remember, too, that there will be a learning-curve, and it will take you a while to get used to Windows 10. If you are in the middle of a big project, try and wait until it’s done before the upgrade, so you’re not frustrated trying to get your head around it at an important time.
If you do plan to upgrade though, we’d recommend getting on to it as soon as you can, rather than leaving it to the ‘last minute rush’, when Microsoft’s ability to deliver the upgrade will no doubt be under pressure.
We hope this guide has been helpful. If you’d like help upgrading to Windows 10, call our friendly staff.
If you’d like to stay with your current version of Windows but would like your computer refreshed, tweaked and with a new lease on life, we can help you with that too.