The latest version of Windows is out and it’s free (ish), so should you be rushing to upgrade?
With Apple recently releasing their new version of iOS for free it won’t be too surprising to see Microsoft following suit. There are a couple of conditions of course, you have to be running genuine Windows 7 or 8, but it covers both Home and Professional editions plus tablets and also phones running Windows Mobile. The free upgrade will be available for a year from the release date. If you’re running an older version of Windows, or wait longer than the year, then you can expect to pay around £80-£90 for the Home edition and around £140 for the Professional, about the same price as the previous versions.
In practice the upgrade process wasn’t incredibly smooth (for me at least). I wasn’t updated to Windows 7 service pack 1 and for some reason Windows Update refused to install the pack. After hours of forum searching and various fixes I ended up downloading the updater, running it manually, and it worked. This is after all the documentation saying you need service pack 1. It was an enjoyable and fun way to spend an afternoon like stubbing your toe over and over.
Once the update was finally finished (the progress bar is ambiguous at best and often 100% only refers to that particular bit of the update not the whole process) I was amazed to find all of my files, drivers and settings from the previous version had carried over to the new install, a useful feature of the installer. Useful but in this case irritating as I’d actually selected a completely fresh install in the menu. I’d wanted to give the computer a clean up and make sure no old versions of software or drivers were going to cause any conflicts. At least it looked a bit prettier.
When Microsoft released Windows 7 they took some of the least hated features from the fairly disastrous Vista and implemented them in a more streamlined way. 8 suffered from similar comparisons so it’s not surprising that 10 follows the same formula. One of the major complaints about 8 was it’s intrusive full-screen start menu and the focus on ‘touch’ applications on computers and laptops that 99% of the time didn’t have touchscreens. Windows 10 reverts back the much loved ‘Start’ button and mouse and keyboard combo. The mobile and tablet versions are much closer to 8 with many more touchscreen and full-screen apps but even then if you want to connect a keyboard and mouse it will turn into a standard desktop version of Windows 10. How well this works on a small screen is really down to the quality of your eyesight.
10 is also being lauded as a ‘Cross-Platform Operating System’ syncing with Windows tablets and phones to share information and applications across multiple devices. Many manufacturers have promised this feature over the years, Apple devices perhaps being the most prominent, but in practice it’s rarely been as simple as modifying a document on your laptop and having the updated version available instantly on your phone.
The big move for desktop and laptop users is the introduction of the Cortana virtual assistant from Windows Mobile. Rival to Apple’s Siri, Cortana can be asked questions through a microphone and she (yes, it’s a she) will do her best to supply the information through Microsoft’s Bing search engine. These systems are far from perfect and if you felt uncomfortable talking to your phone in public it might seem even more intimidating to sit in a coffee shop asking your laptop where the nearest clinic is. As with a lot of these type of features it will probably turn out to be more of a gimmick than a necessary part of daily life.
Windows 10 looks… nicer, I suppose. It’s a difficult call because apart from the slight change to the start menu and taskbar it really isn’t that different to 7 or 8. Beyond the minor visual improvements the requirements for 10 are much the same as 7 or 8. A 1 GHZ processor, 1 GB of RAM and 16GB of hard drive space mean it’s not resource intensive, especially for any reasonable machine from the last three years. It’s worth noting that Windows 10 is reportedly usable on the $25 Raspberry Pi 2 machines but this is still to be confirmed.
So, should you upgrade?
Short answer, no. Issues with software compatibility, the reliability of the update program and a personal paranoia about Microsoft mean I can’t recommend it quite yet. I’m using it at the moment and I’m probably going to keep it (against the hassle of trying to downgrade back to 7) but if I hadn’t been writing about the process I honestly don’t think I would have done it.
Early adopters are the pioneers of technology, heading out into the relative unknown to pave a way for everyone else to follow. They find the kinks and bugs in the road and smooth things out for those that like to wait and see. If you’re a pioneer I salute you, risking it all to have the latest software on the day it comes out is a brave pursuit. All I ask is that you come back with an easy to read forum post telling me how to do it.
Oh and Solitaire now comes with adverts and micro-transactions. Whoever thought of that needs to be fired, out of a cannon, into the sun.
Posted to In the Media