Windows 10 free upgrade ending July 29. Microsoft is engaged in a final push to get users to upgrade, pushing fresh new features and overhauls to its design. However, is Windows 10 right for you? Here are some arguments, both for and against the upgrade.
For the upgrade:
1. New Features
Not everyone agrees about the value of Windows 10’s new features, but most agree the new operating system (OS) offers more than previous versions of Windows. The introduction of Cortana, a new virtual assistant, who’s intentions are to provide you with traffic and weather reports for your day and answer simple questions. Cortana also helps with your scheduling and to-do lists.
Rendering 3D graphics in games and other applications is boosted with the new DirectX 12 including faster boot times than that of Windows 7 and 8.1 and more support for multi-monitor setups. Side note: DirectX 12 can also be installed on Windows 7 and 8.
Storage from and to multiple drives, both locally and online, can be pooled more easily.
2. Support and Upgrades
While Windows 7 and 8 still have some years left before Microsoft stops supporting them, Windows 10 is being promoted as the “last” OS your computer will need. However, they are reflecting in their lifecycle fact sheet that support will end Oct, 14. 2025.
Rumor has it that Microsoft will eventually move Windows and Office to become a service or subscription after the 2025 end date for Windows 10. There was some thought of this as early as Windows 7 when it was in production and known only by its codename Blackcomb.
3. The return of the desktop
Windows 10 brings back the familiar desktop and start menu – well kind of. The start menu looks similar to the Windows 7 version, but has the tiled start screen from Windows 8 tethered to the side.
Some nifty upgrades to the Windows desktop include better support for Virtual Desktops and an enhanced Task View. These allow the user to easily jump between open apps and virtual desktops.
4. Better data access
Windows 10 takes advantage of Internet connectivity in a way its predecessors don’t, plugging users into a wider range of information and automatically syncing information with cloud services.
Searching from the Windows 10 taskbar will search more than just files on the hard drive, it will also search Windows Store apps and Microsoft’s Bing search engine. Windows 10’s integration with cloud services such as OneDrive helps automatically sync files between PCs and Cortana can share your profile between devices.
Against the upgrade:
1. New Features
The new smart assistant Cortana is not actually that smart, according to most users I have talked with. Often responding to simple questions with a Bing search rather than a direct answer, I found it frustrating and had better results with a simple Google search done by myself. The new Edge browser should have been a good idea, but with most new web browsers, it needs a lot of work. It lacks key features that are common-place in other browsers such as Firefox.
Windows 10 collects more data than I am comfortable with. I am okay sharing how I use Windows and what apps I use, but I am concerned about Windows collecting what I type, my contacts and location. When Cortana is enabled, this data extends to my web browsing history, voice commands and more. The data gathering settings can be turned down, but not off.
Updates on Windows 10 also happens more frequently than older versions of Windows. Users have less control over when updates are done and what changes these updates will make.
3. Old Hardware / Software
Windows 10, like other Windows releases, does not support certain older hardware or software. I am not referring to items from the 80’s, I’m talking about hardware and software that worked fine on Windows 7. I found that printers are the least supported item, but some video cards were not supported either. When I spoke to the Microsoft tech support, their response was to simply buy newer hardware.
Older software that I paid good money for was no longer supported, but I could (with some software) buy an upgrade from that company that did allow it to function on Windows 10. So now I’m left to wonder; how much is that FREE upgrade to Windows 10 really going to cost me?
4. Missing features
A key item missing from Windows 10 is the Windows Media Center. This software was designed for TV, music and movie playback. The Windows store offers a version for you to download, but at an extra cost. There are some open-source (free) media programs out there to fill in the gaps.
Solitaire is still there but it comes with full page ads that you have to work around. You can disable them, but only by purchasing the solitaire game from the Windows store.
Another issue I found was that on some laptops, Windows 10 did not allow moving icons on the desktop. Where they landed is where they stayed. Even when creating a new icon, it was populated on the desktop in a random spot and was not movable. So, I could not arrange my icons to my viewing pleasure.
If you decide to make the upgrade, there is one option not found in previous versions of Windows, the option to go back to Windows 7 or 8. You have 30 days to revert back to your original OS if you decide Windows 10 is not a benefit to you. In my experience, this option works most of the time. Two of the computers I tried this on crashed beyond repair.
So, there is a short list of my pro’s and con’s regarding the upgrade. I will leave it up to you the user to determine if the upgrade would be a good thing. My personal opinion is, if you are a heavy graphics user, (games and video) you may want to try it out. If you are a basic user, (Internet, email, word, etc) you may want to stick with Windows 7 or 8.