23 March 2016

To Windows 10 or Not to Windows 10...

If you're still running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you might have noticed more recently that your computer has become quite "aggressive" in trying to push Windows 10 at you as a free upgrade, and you're maybe wondering if you should push the button and let it upgrade...

You might perhaps be surprised to learn that we don't recommend you do this - at least, not without being prepared first. The Windows 10 upgrade is pretty large, can take a few hours to install and doesn't always work out.

Some of the "gotchas" we're regularly seeing - but which you won't see mentioned much by Microsoft in its tireless pursuit of getting upgrades:

- If you're running older software - for example Microsoft Office 2007, you can expect it to be "removed" by the upgrade - and there's no simple way to get it running again especially if you no longer have your install disks or product keys. We've actually seen this happen too with newer versions - even the latest Office 365 version of Office in a few cases. It's also true to say that we've seen this with other non-Microsoft software and in our view, the way Windows 10 goes about installing without really warning you just how big an impact you'll potentially have isn't really on.

- We've seen on many occasions now customers have problems with computers post upgrade - drivers for various bits of hardware & equipment they own missing, no longer working or just plain broken - and actually this can cause a considerable hassle for you especially if you're relying on your computer for business or perhaps your university studies.

- Sometimes the upgrades just don't work - so you either spend many hours waiting for it to "undo" the upgrade - or worse - it thinks it was successful and leaves your computer totally dead.

So... what can you do?

Firstly, consider if you *really* need that "free" upgrade - if your computer is more than 2-3 years old, we're not sure we'd recommend it as those computers will normally have older software, older hardware and may just not work well afterwards (you might get lucky of course, and sometimes people do). The old "if it isn't broken, don't fix it" mantra does spring to mind and we're very much of the view you should pay attention to it!

Make sure you take a full system backup of your computer BEFORE you try the upgrade - at the very least make sure you do have a backup of all your documents, photos, music and so on, but better yet, use the built in Backup facilities and make a full backup (or use some third party software to do so ) - eg so you can completely restore your computer back to how it was before the upgrade including the software, settings and so on.

If you do upgrade and things aren't working, you have 30 days to roll your computer back to Windows 7 or 8 - there's an option in the new settings system to let you do this - and again, we hope you did make a backup as we recommend because we've sometimes seen that go wrong too and your computer not quite end up working after it rolls back.

Many things change in Windows 10...

If you're currently using Windows 7, you might not find 10 too bad overall - it retains the start menu style of working, but adds some windows 8 features too. However be aware that updates are mandatory on 10 and therefore if you're not in the habit of keeping all your software up to date, don't be too surprised to find it just suddenly breaks after a forced further update (they're released frequently) for 10 - and again we cannot stress enough that once you're on 10 having good full backups is really important because on more than one occasion so far, upgrades have been seen to completely break computers and stop them starting up at all.

If you're on Windows 8 - and you miss the start menu, then Windows 10 does bring it back officially (although personally I like the Windows 8 setup and it doesn't really bother me - I'm used to it) - there are non-official ways to get a start menu back too mind you. However, the changes in 10 are mostly negative in my view - mandatory updates, the new browser experience, the somewhat confused "will it be control panel, will it be a pc setting" thing is much worse in 10 than 8, and quite a few software products our customers use and rely on (and which can't easily or affordably be upgraded) have been broken).

Fed up with the nagging?

If you're fed up with Windows 10 upgrade reminds and have decided you don't want to change, you can download and use the excellent "GWX Control Panel" software by Ultimate Outsider (www.ultimateoutsider.com/downloads/) - GWX standards for "Get Windows 10" with X of course being the roman numeral for 10... hence the somewhat uncatchy name! Bear in mind that if you don't, Microsoft are starting to change things so that on some versions of windows 7/8, it forces 10 on your computer and installs it without further request now - and we're seeing increasing reports of problems as a result.


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