Why you shouldn’t upgrade to Windows 10 just yet
By Keith Liu July 29, 2015
- No need to rush since free upgrade offer expires a year from now
- Win10 ideal for Win7 users who haven’t switched to Win8
THE long-awaited commercial release of Windows 10 is finally upon us. Today (July 29), technology giant Microsoft Corp will unleash the latest version of its venerable Windows operating system to the public at large.
If you’re currently running Windows 7 and Windows 8 or 8.1 on your current PC, the upgrade is free if you make the switch by June 29, 2016. That gives all of us exactly a year to perform that upgrade.
As such, there’s really no rush to upgrade to Windows 10 just yet – but we’ll explain why later. First, let’s see what the fuss is about.
If you’re still stuck in the Dark Ages and running Windows XP or Windows Vista on your PC, you’re out of luck – Windows 10 isn’t free for you.
But even if it were, your machine is way past its EOL (end of life) date and may not be able to support the software. So the best option is to buy a new PC that comes preloaded with Windows 10, if you want to experience the new operating system.
If you have a non-genuine (pirated) copy of Windows, then perhaps you could consider supporting legal software, since you will be getting free updates for years. Microsoft said users of non-genuine Windows can still upgrade to Windows 10, but will be required to purchase a licence.
Windows 10 costs US$119 for the Home version and US$199 for the Professional version, but we expect discounts for students, academic staff, and bulk licences.
At Digital News Asia (DNA), we have been running Windows 10 Technical Preview on two of our PCs as part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider programme (essentially a large-scale beta testing initiative), and while our ThinkPad 8 tablet frequently struggled with Windows Updates, the Lenovo Yoga 11S (powered by an Intel i3 chip) fared better.
Our take is that Windows 10 is a much better product than Windows 8, primarily because the user interface is far less confusing.
The biggest improvement: The Start button and Start menu that we all know so well are back. We no longer have to deal with that awful fullscreen ‘modern’ tiled interface. That reviled part of Windows 8 now takes up the right hand section of the Start menu, and is far more usable in this iteration.
As such, the traditional desktop from pre-Windows 8 days has finally won and is now the primary operating environment.
Those pesky Windows 8-based ‘modern’ apps which you download exclusively from the Windows Store – as opposed to legacy Windows desktop applications which you can download from anywhere – no longer insist on running in fullscreen mode.
Microsoft has, thankfully, returned to its true ‘windows’ environment roots where applications (or apps) run within a window by default.
These two user interface tweaks are perhaps the most important ones for Windows 7 users who haven’t upgraded to Windows 8. The transition to Windows 10 will be much smoother.
Sure, you can’t really customise the nested Apps list on the left side, but at least it’s there, and just like old times, arranged in alphabetical order.
“Windows 10 is definitely a step in the right direction, even if it comes after a few missteps with Windows 8 and 8.1,” says IDC Asia-Pacific’s analyst for Client Devices, Avinash Sundaram.
“The design tweaks to the Start screen and the ways modern apps are rendered make it a really seamless experience. This feels like a much more natural progression from Windows 7,” he says in an email to DNA.
Beneath the surface, Windows 8 introduced a ton of goodies to the operating system’s performance and speed, and this is further improved with Windows 10.
Faster boot times, enhanced networking features, Mail and OneDrive integration, and a more consumer-friendly Task Manager are just some of the neat party tricks that Windows 8 and 8.1 introduced. They continue to be there in Windows 10.
What’s new is Cortana, a virtual personal assistant carried over from the Windows Phone platform. You can use natural language to speak to ‘her’ using the PC’s microphone or simply type in your queries, and ‘her’ responses may surprise or delight you.
Cortana, by the way, was named after the artificial intelligence character featured in Microsoft’s seminal Xbox game, Halo.
Unfortunately Cortana is only available in 11 countries upon launch, with China being the only Asian market. Other countries like Japan, Australia and India will be supported in a second wave.
What will be universally available is Microsoft Edge (pic, above), a new web browser that has been built from the ground up as the company retires the aging Internet Explorer browser.
While it comes with a few nifty features like a reading mode and being able to scribble on the webpage – it works well with Microsoft’s Surface 3 Pen – Edge brings the company’s offering up to par with Google’s Chrome and Firefox browsers but doesn’t surpass them.
The other Windows 10 feature that upgraders will find useful is the Task View. Swiping in from the left of the screen will call up all your open applications as thumbnails, making it easy to switch among apps. Here is where you’ll be able to add more desktops as well.
Since there are new features aplenty, why are we recommending you not to upgrade to Windows 10 yet?
There are a few reasons. Primarily, while the commercial release of Windows 10 is probably the most bug-tested version of the OS, we’re quite certain there are still issues in the software waiting to be discovered.
So unless your PC is relatively new and you don’t have a lot of important data, we would say hold off until early adopters have uncovered these additional bugs, so that Microsoft can promptly fix them.
Remember, the more people use this OS, the more problems will crop up.
The other reason is hardware drivers. It takes time to fully support every single hardware device that’s out there on the planet. You may be using some legacy storage or game peripheral no one’s ever heard of, and the driver may not yet be ready, or worse, won’t be supported.
Third-party hardware makers need time to push out new drivers, and that may not happen on within the first one to two months of the launch.
Third-party application support is another good reason to hold back on the upgrade. Software compatibility issues could arise with an application you’re using.
Give the software vendors some time to work out the kinks, and upgrade when all the applications you use have Windows 10 support patches.
This also applies to high-end games, some of which may not play as well on Windows 10 due to some reason or other. Playing the waiting game instead will ensure the titles you currently have installed will all run without any hitches.
However, we believe most games that are supported in Windows 8 will run without issues on Windows 10, but our experience with Steam and PC games have been less than satisfactory. We hope to test this again with the final version of Windows 10.
What if you own a Windows PC, a Windows tablet and an Xbox One game console? Wouldn’t it make sense to upgrade them immediately so you can experience that cross-platform feature that Microsoft has talked so much about?
Granted, streaming Xbox One games remotely to your Windows 10 powered tablet is a cool idea, but the practicality of playing a game on your tablet while attached to a wired Xbox game controller, remains to be seen.
Finally, if you really do want to upgrade on Day One, since Microsoft’s #UpgradeYourWorld campaign is in full swing and you feel compelled to join the party, please ensure you’ve backed up your PC, or backed up your important files and media to the cloud or external drive, just in case.
You could also perform a fresh installation of Windows 10 on a separate drive partition or a new hard drive, but that means having to reinstall all your applications and then copying all your data back to their respective folders.
It’s time-consuming for sure, but it’s the closest thing to buying a new Windows 10 based PC.
Whatever the case, a Windows 10 upgrade comes highly recommended – the only decision you need to make is when to make that switch.
Keith Liu is Digital News Asia’s Singapore-based editor. Follow him on Twitter @TechLiu.
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