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Should I upgrade to Windows 10?

Technical Level : Intermediate

Summary

With the launch of Windows 10 less than two months away and persons already receiving notifications of its availability; the big decision is in front of you. Should you upgrade? I have already made mine and yes, I will upgrade all my computers to Windows 10. I am able to make this decision because of a number of factors. This article weighs the pro's and con's of upgrading and provides alternative ideas you can use to help make your decision easier.

Details

I have been evaluating Windows 10 since October 1st 2014. I have managed to the see the operating system go through its ups and downs during that time. The experience has afforded me the ability to have an intimate experience with this platform. I have been testing pre-release versions of WIndows for a long while now, as far back as Windows Server 2003 (Microsoft's Network Operating System). Throughout that time, I have built up years of experience and strategy with each new revision, the do's and don'ts. For the average user who probably just started learning about Windows 10 a couple months ago, a few days ago or even a few months from now, this will be a critical decision to make.

Start menu, Windows 10 build 9841 the first test version of Windows 10 to be released publicly - October 2014

The first thing persons asking this question should think about, what are the benefits? Software over the years, no matter if its Windows, Linux or OS X have matured incredibly. The fact that Windows XP (2001), a version of Windows four generations behind is still in heavy use is a testament to how much the platform that is 'Windows' has reached a very good enough point in many persons computing lives. 2009's Windows 7 is the most popular release to date, running on nearly 1 billion systems world wide. Even when Windows 10 launches 2 months from now, both it and Windows 8.1 will continue to be supported at the end of the decade.

Why is Windows 10 free, is there some catch?

No, its not a catch. We are computing in different times. Windows 10 is free so app developers can standardize on one platform and reduce the fragmented market of different versions and editions of Windows that have been a issue in the past. When everybody is on the same platform, it means better quality apps, a healthier ecosystem and more advances in hardware.

What are some of the new improvements in Windows 10?

Windows 10 is the most familiar release of Windows 10 if you are coming from Windows 7. There are many changes, but its not an extreme learning curve as it was going from Windows 7 to Windows 8.0. Below, are some of the out of box improvements users will find in the new operating system.

  • Integration with Microsoft's digital assistant - Cortana, can be used for finding and retrieving information on the Internet and your PC, such as files. You can also use it to control applications such as the Music Player and prepare an email message or track a package.
  • Task View for managing applications using multiple desktops.
  • Modern apps can now be windowed and behave just like desktop apps.
  • Notification Center for centralized management of notifications and quick access to PC settings.
  • Universal applications that work not only on your Windows 10 PC, but also your mobile phone running Windows 10 and also XBOX One.
  • XBOX App for Streaming of live games to a PC or Tablet
  • Touch optimized Office applications (Word, Excel, Outlook, OneNote and PowerPoint). Providing the power of Office on devices with touch support. Users can edit, prepare documents, spreadsheets and presentations with full document fidelity regardless of device.
  • Continuum Mode - if you own a 2 in 1 form factor that works both as a laptop and tablet, you can easily let Windows 10 decide the best environment for you. Once detached into Tablet mode for instance, you can work in a more touch optimized user interface. Users will also be able to remotely use Windows 10 Mobile apps on their Windows PCs.
  • Microsoft Edge - Windows 10 will include a next generation web browser called Edge that support advances in Windows 10 such as Cortana for finding information on the web, Annotation, PDF support, superior reading experience.
  • Music and playlist integration in OneDrive.
  • Unified messaging using Skype Integration
  • Windows Hello and Passport for personalized authentication without the use of passwords.
  • Device Guard for protecting devices against malicious applications.
  • Support for media formats such as FLAC and MKV

If these features look enticing to you, then you are already a candidate for Windows 10.

Which features will be removed when I upgrade from a previous version of Windows?

  • Windows Media Center
  • DVD playback
  • Desktop gadgets
  • Preinstalled games
  • Floppy drive support - obtain update through Windows Update or manufacturers website if its a USB floppy drive.
  • Windows Live Essentials (Windows Essentials) - can be reinstalled.
  • Windows Updates -  Windows 10 replaces your previous version of Windows by moving it to the Windows.old folder. Windows 10 becomes the default operating system.
  • Windows Virtual PC with Windows XP Mode - you will have to use Hyper-V which includes setting up and reinstalling Windows XP. You will also need to provide your own Windows XP license.

Is Media Center supported in Windows 10?

No. Persons who need to use Media Center should consider carefully before upgrading from their previous version of Windows. The Windows 10 upgrade will automatically remove any installations of Media Center.

So what are the alternatives if I need Media Center?

Your best option is to continue running your existing version of Windows with Media Center.

Will Windows Media Center be available in Windows 10?

Windows Media Center is not part of Windows 10 and won’t be available after upgrading to Windows 10. If you use Windows Media Center, we will alert you during upgrade that Windows Media Center is not available on Windows 10. We know that some users use Windows Media Center to play DVDs, and we are providing a free DVD playback app in Windows 10 for Windows Media Center users.

Source: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-faq

Windows 7, the most popular release of Windows to date - 2009

Afraid of disrupting your current work flow?

Backup your computer:
When making significant changes to your computer such as updating the operating system, you should always backup. See links to resources about backing up by clicking the link for the respective version of Windows you are running:
Windows XP, Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1

Also review:

How to: 10 Tips before installing the latest Windows 10 build

How to: 10 things to do if Windows 10 Setup fails.

Once you have installed these important updates and followed the prerequisite instructions, you should be ready to receive your free update to Windows 10 this summer.

Upgrading should not be done during the middle of a major project. Remember, you have an entire year to decide, so you don't have to do this right away. Yes, you can down download the software, but you don't have to install it right away. Microsoft will push Windows 10 through its Windows Update service and as a .ISO file you can download and use to upgrade offline. Just make sure you make your decision before July 28th 2016. After that, you will need to purchase Windows 10.

Can I uninstall Windows 10 if I do not like it or something goes wrong?

See the following: How to: Rollback to a previous version of Windows from Windows 10

Can I try Windows 10 without replacing my current Windows?

Windows 10 includes the ability to rollback to your previous version of Windows if you don't like it after upgrading. It is still advised you make a thorough backup of your system just in case though.

As far back as Windows XP, Microsoft has provided evaluation (trial) copies of of Windows you could download and install to give it a test run before committing to. In recent times, Microsoft provided a 90 day trial for both Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 you could download as a .ISO image, burn to a blank DVD or create a bootable copy on a USB thumbdrive and install on a blank partition. The same will likely be available for Windows 10 too. In fact, you can setup a partition now and install the Windows 10 Insider Preview on it and evaluate it throughout the year without disturbing your commercial copy of Windows. You can boot into it anytime and test it out and see whats new without any committment. If you find out what you like, just delete the partition and upgrade your commercial copy when you are ready.

Also, remember, the Windows 10 Insider Preview is entitled to a copy of the final RTM (release to manufacturering copy). So you could have a copy setup on your computer and test it there.

Where can I get more information about preparing my computer safely for testing Windows 10?

Another option you have for testing out Windows 10 before committing to it is a virtual machine. If you don't like messing with partitions and configuring boot options, this is another excellent way to evaluate Windows 10. If your computer is powerful enough, you can use the instructions in either of the following articles. Please note, in order to use Hyper-V, you must be running Windows 8.0 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise or Windows 8.1 Enterprise.

Another option you have for testing out Windows 10 before committing to it is a virtual machine. If you don't like messing with partitions and configuring boot options, this is another excellent way to evaluate Windows 10. If your computer is powerful enough, you can use the instructions in either of the following articles. Please note, in order to use Hyper-V, you must be running Windows 8.0 Pro, Windows 8.1 Pro, Windows 8 Enterprise or Windows 8.1 Enterprise.

How to setup a virtual machine using Hyper-V


If your computer does not support Hyper-V, you can use an alternative called Oracle VirtualBox which works just as great and runs on earlier versions of Windows such as Windows 7 and Windows Vista.

How to: install the latest Windows 10 Build in Oracle VirtualBox

Do I eventually have to upgrade to Windows 10 though?

Well, if you want to get the free upgrade offer which is available to Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 7 users, you will have to do that within the first year or you will have to buy it after. If that does not matter you, you can always wait out and see how early adopters are responding to the operating system. I am sure you will have friends and family who will either upgrade or get it on a new PC. Ask them about their experiences about it, what they like, don't like.

If you don't upgrade, nothing will happen to your current version of Windows, Windows 7 will continue to be supported and receive updates until January 2020, Windows 8.1 until January 2023. Even after that they will continue to function just fine.

Windows 10 Insider Preview, build 10122 - May 2015

What is the best way to get Windows 10?

Apart from the free upgrade offer. The best way is to get Windows 10 preinstalled on a new computer. This way, you have nothing to install or worry about. Just setup a user account, install your apps and you are good to go. It also more expensive.

Windows 10 is a significant upgrade. It is described as the last major version of Windows. This does not mean Microsoft will stop developing newer revisions, it simply means, upgrading to Windows 10 will be less disruptive. New, smaller, focused features will be delivered when they are ready.

So, should you upgrade?

Here's my advice, you have an entire year, there is no need to rush. Wait a few months and hear what the early adopters are saying. If Windows 10 is already downloaded to your computer, you don't have to install it right away. Let it stay there and continue running your computer as you normally do now. Remember the options for testing it out if you are anxious to see whats new, different and familiarize yourself with the improvements. Windows 10 to me is a solid release. Its familiar, improved and easier to use. Make sure you review the Frequently Asked Questions below for further information about the changes coming in Windows 10.

Resources:

Frequently Asked Questions: Windows 10

Windows 10 Q&A - Microsoft

How to reserve your free upgrade to Windows 10

What are the editions of Windows 10 available?

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