Windows 10 has now been on the market for over a month. It has received several patches since and millions now have it installed. That’s all well and good but your question remains, “Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?” The answer is not as simple as Yes or No but hopefully, by the end of this article it will be for you. I will be explaining who should upgrade to WIndows 10 plus things to consider if you’re at work or home, older hardware and software and general daily use.
Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?
The first thing (and a very important one at that) to have in mind is that, despite some confusion, Windows 10 is free. Yes, free. What are the conditions of this deal?
- Windows 10 is free for anyone that acquires is within the first year since release. This does not mean at the end of the year you’ll get a message that says you now have to pay, it literally means that if you get it before the first year is over, it’s free, for life.
- Windows 10 is free as long as you have a licence for Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. Most prebuilt computers such as those from HP, Dell, Packard Bell, Acer, etc have a stick on the side (Desktops) or underneath (Laptops) with your Windows license. You will not need this to upgrade as long as your current Windows Install is already activated. If you bought a custom-built PC and you can’t find the sticker anywhere, check inside the DVD box you received from where you bought it. If you have neither, ask them. In any case, as mentioned, if your Windows shows as “Activated”, you’re good to go.
- Windows 10 is free both to upgrade current installs or to install fresh installs but, the device must have been upgraded once for activation before any sort of fresh installs through a bootable USB or DVD.
- Once Windows 10 is activated. You can reinstall as many times as you like and it will automatically reactivate as long as no major components on your PC are changed (for example, a replacement motherboard and, potentially, processor (and even RAM) constitutes a new device at which point a new license will be required. Replacing something like a hard drive will not affect auto-activation with the new install.
If I don’t like Windows 10, can I go back?
One of the most common questions I’ve been asked is (due to the fiasco that was the Windows 8 interface) “If I don’t like it, can I go back?”. The answer is YES, and it’s also surprisingly easy. Microsoft has built-in a process that requires just a few clicks to roll back to your previously installed version of Windows (which is kept in the “windows.old” folder, so don’t delete that if you think at some point you’d like to go back). I will be publishing a tutorial on how to go back to your previous version of WIndows if you don’t like Windows 10 next Monday.
When I tested this functionality, it successfully took files and installed programs with it so by the time my test computer was back on Windows 7, it had everything and it was ready to go. Of course, as with any big PC operation, it would be careless to attempt this process without first making a backup of all your important files (you never know).
So, it doesn’t look like it was meant for tablets anymore?
Amazingly (and thankfully), no! I would find it hard to imagine that Windows 8 will be fondly remembered by many people. While its engine is considerably faster than Windows 7, the awful “Metro” interface that seemed that belonged on your tablet rather than your PC made everyday use a clumsy and slower process than the traditional interface that allows you to use your keyboard and mouse efficiently. Windows 10 avoids all this by returning to the classic interface that we all know and love from Windows 7, or rather, a very similar one of course (it’s not going to be exactly the same). That said, when we click start and our little start menu pops up from the start button, a slight metro-like column has been added to the right of it. Personally I don’t mind it, but users can make it smaller, large or even fully disable it if they wish. I do not find it intrusive but everyone has their own taste and thankfully Microsoft has accounted for that this time round.
What’s all this Cortana I’ve been hearing about?
Assistants are already helping you out on phones such as Google Now on Android and Siri on Apple. Microsoft intends to provide a similar experience on Desktops and Laptops with Cortana in Windows 10.
It will not allow you to control your PC by using your voice however. We can open up Cortana by clicking on the search section of the Taskbar and from there we can make web queries thanks to the universal search functionality that searches through your PC and the internet. You can also do other things like schedule appointments in your calendar, dictate notes and reminders, control your media (though this will only work with Windows Media Player and not other software such as VideoLan Player (or VLC) or audio players such as Winamp or iTunes. What is pretty interesting is that Microsoft is releasing a version of Cortana for your Android or iPhone devices so no matter what you’re using at any given time, you can still sync up your data.
What about the nonsense account requirement?
Unlike with Windows 8, Microsoft will not require you to have a Microsoft account (such as Hotmail, Live, Outlook, etc). On Windows 10 you can choose to create and use a standard Windows Account such as what we’ve done with every other Windows, ever, using whatever email address you want. That said, if you want the Microsoft-embedded features that work with OneDrive you’ll still need to sign up, so again we see Microsoft giving the power of choice back to the users.
Anything else that’s new and interesting?
An interesting feature Windows 10 adds (though by no means new, it’s existed in what I call “The people’s choice of Linux”, Ubuntu for years now) is Virtual Dekstops. With this feature you can use the Task View mode to create multiple workspaces on your PC and switch between them as if you where using several screens. This is specially useful for people like me that are used to using 2-3 screens and feel a bit lost on a Laptop due to having many windows open. You can also arrange Windows on your desktop using the “Snap Assist Feature” so that they take equivalent space around your usable work area.
I use my PC for games, should I upgrade to Windows 10?
Short answer, YES. Windows 10 comes with DirectX 12 and while no games or applications use DX12 yet, they will soon enough and the improvements are, if what they say and show is true, astronomical. Microsoft is also adding features to enhance the experience on Windows 10 such as the ability to stream games from your Xbox One (yawn) to your PC (which admittedly is very useful if someone else is watching the TV and you have no access to it), a new gameplay recording system called “PC Game DVR” and more to come.
Aside from that, Microsoft has a list on their website on games that have been tested and their results in Windows 10 (including emulators for those retro-gamers out there) that you can view here. If your favourite game isn’t on the list, don’t panic. A quick google search of “Game Name Windows 10” will most likely show that someone has already tried it and will let you know if it’ll work straight up or if there’s a fix in the case it doesn’t. Alternatively, if you’re in to your classic old games, but simply can’t get them to run on modern systems (let alone Windows 10) Good Old Games (gog.com) is a website that makes these games fully compatible and DRM-free (software copyright protection) with the newest operating system, in this case, WIndows 10.
My PC is old and/or I have old software I need
One of the main concerns I’ve been asked about is about users upgrading their old PCs to Windows 10 with the fear that their hardware will not be compatible. Thankfully this is something we can find out about relatively easy. The first thing we need to do is find out if, in the case of our computer being made by HP, Acer, Dell, and the likes, they are releasing drivers for Windows 10. We can do this by going to the relevant manufacturer website, going to driver downloads (generally found within the support tabs), finding our model through the search box and seeing if drivers are available. Chances are that they are not and this is because unless the computer is relatively new, they will want you to upgrade your computer and not provide drivers in order to make you think you have no other choice. Thankfully however, these companies simply put computers together, they don’t manufacture the components. So, what we need to do is find out what motherboard we have as that contains the main chipset, processor (for integrated graphic drivers), audio, and data management drivers (for stability and speed). We can do this by downloading HWiNFO from the Downloads section and opening it.
Within it we will find what Motherboard and Graphics card we have. For Graphics cards, you have a 90% chance of there being a Windows 10 driver available so that’s fine. For motherboards, it’s slightly more complex, thankfully the guys at MaximumPC have composed a continuously updated list of motherboards that have seen Windows 10 driver releases for them from which you find yours. Just go down to the manufacturer and look for your model. If it’s there you’re good to go, simply go to the manufacturer’s website, be it MSI, ASRock, Gigabyte, ASUS, ECS, etc and go to their downloads section, search for your motherboard model, choose Windows 10 as the operating system and download away.
For laptops it’s different as motherboards are a complete different picture and really we should be focusing on what chipset we have, also indicated under Motherboard in the HWiNFO application. Now that we have the information we need, we just need to go to their websites. So, if you have an Intel Chipset, you can install an auto-updater from Intel here. If you have an AMD Chipset you can do the very same here which, incidentally will also update your Graphics card if you have an AMD or ATI graphics card as it’s part of the same company. If you have an NVIDIA Graphics card you can do the same here.
In terms of having a program that you need to use constantly and fearing whether it will work fine in Windows 10, the only thing you can do is go to the program’s website and seeing if the developer has released a patch or a new version all together that’s compatible on Windows 10. However do not be fooled with payed-for software as while they may advertise their new version as Windows 10 compatible, there’s a huge chance yours is too if it worked fine on Windows 7 or 8.
Should I wait till the bugs are fixed?
Like any new Operating System, Windows 10 has its bugs but have in mind that if you have Windows 7 or 8 currently, you do only have 11 months left to upgrade for free. While this may now sound like a long time, it’s something that we could simply put in the back of our heads and then forget about it. The fact is that Windows 10 has had an extensive beta period that’s been tested by thousands of users in the Microsoft Insiders program which means most of the issues have been ironed out and therefore Windows 10 is quite stable at the moment (and I agree with this statement based on the fact that I’ve been using it on my daily pc for the last 4 weeks).
That said, there’s nothing wrong with waiting for a few weeks or even months if that will give make you feel safer. Just remember not to wait too long!