Unless you’ve been living off the grid, you’ve seen the notices that Windows 10 will be released on July 29th this year. You may have even noticed a new icon on your taskbar offering the chance to “reserve your upgrade.” Additionally, it will be a free upgrade to folks already running Windows 7 or 8. So, should you upgrade? As with many things involving your computer, the answer is “it depends.”
First of all, let’s look at the “free” part. Microsoft has announced that for a period of one year after July 29, 2015, anyone running any version of Windows 7 or 8 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. If you’ve survived on this planet for any length of time at all, you know that nothing is free. The cost may not be in dollars, but there will be a cost. No one can stay in business by giving away their product.
If you think about this a bit, you can see that there are limits to this offer. To get your free upgrade, you must have an existing computer, and that computer must have an existing version of Windows loaded on it. Any existing computer is going to have a limit to its lifespan, at the end of which the user will have to purchase another computer, which will have a paid-for license for Windows on it. So in reality, Microsoft is just deferring income for the folks who choose to upgrade their existing computers.
For most, I recommend NOT upgrading right away. No matter how extensive the product has been tested, there will be some bugs that escape detection until it is released to the masses and millions of people start using it every day. Unless you enjoy being an early-adopter and finding those bugs for Microsoft, I recommend you wait a while to upgrade. Let other people find the problems, and let some patches be created to fix them before you jump in the pool.
This is not to say that you should be afraid of purchasing a new computer with Windows 10 pre-installed. If you are going to be in the market for a new computer after July 29th anyway, there is no reason not to get Windows 10. There just isn’t. The one exception to this is if you are a business and have critical applications that do not yet support Windows 10. Other than that, get it – enjoy it – and get on with more important things in your life.
Some other things you might not know about Windows 10.
- If you click on the icon to “reserve your upgrade now” your computer will have to download the upgrade. This may not happen until July 29th or after, or there may be some things that can start downloading now – I don’t know. What I do know is that in total, the upgrade is over 3 Gigabytes in size. This is a huge download. If you have a DSL connection, this is going to take a long time. Even with a cable connection you are probably looking at a few hours to download or more. I say “or more” because this will be far from an ideal situation. Millions of computers will be trying to download the update at the same time, so the Microsoft servers are going to be working overtime and will be slow. I guarantee it.
- One of the changes with Windows 10 will be how updates are handled. For home users (and perhaps all users who take advantage of the free upgrade) updates will no longer be voluntary. They will download and install without your permission. Currently, you can set your system to not download updates immediately – and you can put off the installation of updates if you want. No more of this with Windows 10. Ultimately, this is a better answer because it will force people to stay updated and overall systems will be more secure because of this policy. Taking away your vote for when and how to install updates will likely not be appreciated, though.
- Windows 10 will not be able to play DVDs “out of the box.” You will need separate software for this. This isn’t really a bad thing, just a difference from previous versions. I highly recommend a free software called VLC Media Player for this task.
- If you sign up for the free upgrade, you will also get “Candy Crush Saga” pre-installed. This sounds like a bad thing to me and a very slippery slope they are walking on (remember that “cost” thing I talked about earlier?).
- The upgrade is a one-way ticket. There is no built-in way to go back if you don’t like it, or if it doesn’t work right.
Ok, Ok – I want the upgrade! How do I get it?
There are two ways, the simple (but wrong) way and the more-complicated (but correct) way.
- The easy way. You can click on the offer icon to reserve your copy of Windows 10, then the software will download sometime after July 29th and at some point be ready to install. Click on the offered “install now” button or whatever form it takes, then pray for a good result. For the love of all things good in this world, DO NOT DO IT THIS WAY! Seriously, don’t. Please.
- The better way. Enlist the help of a professional (That’s me!). Make sure your computer meets the minimum requirements of Windows 10. Then, make sure your computer is clean, uninfected, and all of the hardware is working well. If something is wrong now, loading the upgrade is unlikely to fix that problem. Then, create an image backup of your current system before you upgrade. This will guarantee that you can return to the way things were if something doesn’t go right. This requires special software and an external drive big enough to hold the image. Finally, load the upgrade. When it is finished, test everything to make sure nothing went wrong.
- (Ok, I never said I could count) The best way. Backup your data and do a clean install of the new version of Windows. Upgrading always sounds like a good thing, but you end up carrying baggage from your old installation over to the new one. It’s always better to start fresh. I don’t know if this is even possible with the free upgrade yet, but I suspect it will be.
I don’t know if Microsoft will make a separately-downloadable installer available, but if they do I will be sure to get it. That way, systems could be upgraded without requiring a huge download for each one. Time will tell – I’ll keep you posted. Easiest of all would be to just wait until you have to replace your computer. The new one will have Windows 10 pre-installed and will be guaranteed to work with the hardware. We will migrate your data and reinstall your programs just like any other new computer setup. In the meantime, you can enjoy your current computer. If you’d like to chat further about this or have any questions, please give us a call – we’re here to help.