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Windows 10: Pros and cons of upgrading now

Microsoft’s new operating system has had its first couple of months out in the world, with users getting their hands on it to test and try it out. So what can we conclude about Windows 10 so far, and is it worth upgrading now or waiting until the free upgrade period for Windows 7 and 8 users comes near it’s end on 29 July 2016 to see how it pans out?

The case for upgrading now

If you haven’t had a good experience with Windows 8 then upgrading to Windows 10 should give you relief.

First of all, the Start menu is back again, like it should be for a desktop PC which doesn’t only cater to touchscreen users. If you are feeling the pain of being shoved into a touchscreen environment every time you want to go access your apps and files, then go ahead and upgrade to Windows 10 as Microsoft have reversed this horrible design decision from Windows 8.

Secondly, Windows 10 universal apps are a notable improvement over Windows 8. These apps can run across not only desktop but also Windows tablet and mobile phone and even Xbox. This means when developing apps, companies can take one code base and have it automatically fit to all screen sizes; a responsive design approach to save time and money in the development process. Microsoft’s Adaptive UX adjusts apps to different screen sizes and input modes, depending on whether the user is using touchscreen or mouse and keyboard.

Microsoft has introduced features in Windows 10 that other operating systems had years ago, such as virtual desktops, and while these are welcome they are not game changers. However, there are a few notable ones that could make it compelling enough to upgrade from its predecessors.

‘Windows Hello’ biometric feature is a big step up from the usual user login. It allows users to login via fingerprint, iris scan or facial recognition, making user authentication more secure while also ridding the user of the annoyance of having to change and remember passwords.

‘Device Guard’ better protects against malware attacks than its predecessors, as it will not allow apps or software that are not properly authenticated, signed or authorised to run on the user’s computer. If there is not a proper signature for an application it will stop it loading into memory, protecting from malware attacks. It works on a hardware level and also employs virtualisation to detect malware prior to and during boot time.

‘Snap’, or being able to see more than one screen at a time, is another notable plus of Windows 10. This helps with productivity and multitasking, as users can place four screens onto the one screen instead of having to alt-tab back and forth and sift through their work.

The case for waiting

No initial software release is problem free, but Windows 10 reportedly has many bugs that have not been resolved since launch. That said, with it only having been released for about couple months, Microsoft has made patches to the .NET framework and its Edge browser that replaces Internet Explorer.

But there’s still a way to go in getting some bugs fixed, such as some users not being able to download updates and use certain apps with Windows Store. If you want to make sure you get the most polished version of Windows 10 it may be worth waiting until the last few months of the free upgrade period, rather than installing an earlier, buggy release.

If you are happy with Windows 7 and 8, you can rest assured that Microsoft hasn’t decided to cut support completely for those now that Windows 10 has come along. Security patches for Windows 7 will still occur until January 2020 and for Windows 8, January 2023. Windows 10 security patches will go till October 2025.

Privacy concerns around Windows 10 may also be a deal breaker. When installing Windows 10, the default settings mean that users have their personal information collected by Microsoft including their application usage, the content of their private emails and files, and their search queries. This information would only be retrieved when “necessary” to protect customers, improve auto correction and search, or when enforcing the terms of use of services, Microsoft states.

These defaults can all be switched off so that Windows does not collect and send this data to Microsoft, but some users have found that the operating system still sends some user data back to Microsoft even when told not to. This forced sharing of data may be inescapable though as Microsoft has reportedly been deploying the same data collection behaviours into Windows 7 and Windows 8 recently.

Cortana, one of the most notable new features of Windows 10, is not available to Australians yet, so it might be worth waiting for Microsoft to provide a localised version of this before upgrading. Cortana is a digital personal assistant, which works with both voice and typed text, find files, manages your calendar, tracks packages and more. The productivity tool also learns how to personalise your Windows experience the more you used it.

Other things to watch out for

If you decide to upgrade to Windows 10, it could be worth doing a clean install as opposed to an in-place install. With the latter, Windows 10 might inherit problems with some apps and Windows settings from the previous operating system; it won’t automatically fix them. An in-place install also keeps a whole lot of backup files in case you want to revert back to the previous operating system, so excessive disk space could be an issue, especially if your machine is running an SSD drive where space is at a premium.

Whether in-place or clean install, always back up all your files and data.

Make sure all your hardware and software is compatible, especially business critical applications – you don’t want to upgrade and then discover they don’t work with Windows 10. Microsoft has set out its hardware specifications required to properly upgrade: A 1GHz processor (at least), DirectX 9 graphics card with a Windows Display Driver Model 1.0 (at least), 16GB disk space for 32-bit computers and 20GB for 64-bit, 1GB of RAM for 32-bit computers and 2GB for 64-but, and 800×600 display (at least).

If you have any questions, or need more information about Windows 10 or other Microsoft software or hardware, get in touch.