July 29 was the first day to upgrade (and I use that term loosely) to Windows 10. Since I have a spare computer, I decided to take the plunge on that one. I started by doing a full backup with Macrium Reflect so that I could restore the machine. Macrium has a free version that will allow you to fully backup and restore your computer. It's saved my bacon several times.
Having backed up my machine, I tried using the GWX program to do the upgrade. After a couple of hours of staring at a "Please Wait" screen, I checked for alternatives and found you could download install media from Microsoft. That took about an hour, but at least I now had a DVD in hand I could use multiple times. Inserting this into my spare computer and clicking on the drive started the process. Don't be in a hurry to use the machine, the install takes a couple of hours. At the end of this process, you can choose to use their default settings or squint at the screen to find the teeny tiny link to set custom settings. If you use their default settings, all of the "modern" apps will be defaulted to and you'll be sending MS a ton of info about yourself and your computing habits. I turned all of that off.
At long last you reach the login screen. It's very pretty, but NumLock, which I'd finally managed to get turned on by default in Win8.1, was again turned off. At last I was into Win10. Here are my first impressions:
- By comparison to earlier versions of Windows, it's ugly. There are no 3d effects. It's flatter looking than any Windows has been since 2000. The title bar is dead white and can't be changed. The menu bar is also white making the two blend together in a way that is confusing. The contrast levels are terrible and the screen is hard on the eyes. In the taskbar, the only way to tell that an application is active is a tiny underline in a color that barely contrasts. This may well be the worst visual display ever for Windows (and I can remember what Window 2 looked like).
- It's slow. This was completely unexpected. Win8 is somewhat faster than Win7 and Win10 was touted as being faster than 8, but not so. In spite of pre-release versions being fairly speedy, the final lugs. I can only think that bloatware like Cortana (their intelligent search engine) must have bogged down the final release. Load time for Firefox (my default browser) was about double what it had been in 8. Even after shutting off everything I could, the speed resembled Vista.
- It's loaded with "modern" apps that have no uninstall. You can't uninstall their Photo app or the Map app or the Weather app or a dozen others. Most apps in Win8 had an uninstall function. The new Edge browser can't be uninstalled either unlike the old IE browser (which may be in violation of their agreement with the European Union settlement of their monopoly case). Even the apps that do have uninstalls don't actually go away. If you check the Windows Apps directory, you'll find they're still lurking taking up valuable disk space. The only way to finally rid yourself of them is to use the Unlocker program and have it delete them since just hitting the delete key will result in an error.
- It breaks Anti-virus software. My copy of AVG had to be reinstalled as did the anti-exploit software I use. This seems to be their attempt to get everyone to use their own Windows Defender anti-virus.
- It uninstalled both PDF printers that I use. I know it comes with its own PDF printer, but that doesn't mean I want it to remove the ones I already know work with my software. It also installed some network capable devices that are connected to my router (DirectTV devices). I didn't want them, so I uninstalled them — it kept putting them back.
- The new Start Menu is lame. It comes with tons of "live" tiles, but if what you want is to get to a program, it takes more clicks through a less intuitive maze that isn't customizable. I also somehow got the Start Menu into a full-screen mode and couldn't get it out of it. Classic Start Menu which I used in Win8 to get a useful menu back does work in Win10, but it doesn't show the "modern" apps like it did in Win8.
- You have only one month to uninstall it. It only took me one day to figure out Win10 wasn't working, but if you're more persistent and take 32 days to make your decision, the choice will no longer be there. And don't expect the uninstall to take you back to exactly where you were. Once again, my anti-virus and anti-exploit software would have had to have been reinstalled and all the passwords for my wi-fi networks were gone. I didn't wait to figure out what else was missing, I went to my Macrium backup and restored the image I'd made the day before.
So if you're happy with Win7 or 8, don't upgrade yet. Some of these problems may be corrected before the end of the year-long free period to install 10.
Now for a fearless prediction: MS will cease support for all legacy operating systems 7/31/16. It just makes sense from MS's standpoint. At one point, they were supporting XP, Vista, 7 and 8 while developing 10. By giving away 10, they can say they've provided a support option for all of their older operating systems that still had time left on their support and they would only have one operating system to worry about in the coming years. They plan to upgrade 10 incrementally, so they could keep everyone supported with minimal staffing. Updates on Win10 are mandatory, so everyone will have the same version. Win10 Pro users can delay but not opt-out of updates all others get them automatically whether they like it or not. The inability of most users to even delay updates may have severe consequences since Ms has occasionally sent out an update that breaks all or part of the operating system. Power users tend to delay updates a day or two just to make sure nothing bad happens. I would expect MS to announce in a month or two that everyone either upgrades or is left out in the cold to fend for themselves. Since I really like Win7, I hope I'm wrong.