Should I let Windows 10 have its way with me?
February 29, 2016 12:13 PM   Subscribe

Microsoft has been reminding me daily for weeks that it thinks Windows 10 is the key to my happiness, and I should take advantage of their free update right away. Should I?

I have a Lenovo laptop that I intend to replace in the near, but currently unspecified, future. I am quite happy with Windows 7. My questions:
  • Will Windows 10 actually improve anything? My main applications are video watching, browsing and light office (quicken, excel, word).
  • Will it take a long time and require me to not have a computer for hours? I am quite happy to let it run overnight, if it will reliably run unattended.
  • Am I likely to find that something important doesn't work after the conversion, and then discover I can't go back?
Most of all, is this like the movie 10 — promising me Bo Derek, but with me just getting badly burnt instead? Please let me know of your own experiences with Win10, especially if you took the free upgrade.
posted by ubiquity to Computers & Internet (35 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I have really enjoyed Windows 10; it's all the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8. I've let the update run overnight without any issues on a couple of computers.

You might check out this comparison of Win 7 & Win 10.

Some people are worried about privacy on Windows 10, but it looks more like diagnostic information to me for the most part. I went ahead and turned all that stuff off anyway.
posted by gregr at 12:19 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I upgraded to Windows 10 without issue last year. That said, I'm not sure I'd recommend that you do so unless you are unhappy with something specific

You have to weigh:

1. There is a non-trivial chance that it will screw something up on your machine.
2. You will have to either get used to the new interface or use a program like Startisback to revert back to the old desktop/start menu.
3. You will have to consider disabling some of the intrusive features of the new OS in re: to privacy or decide whether you have a problem with them.


1. In the near future the update may no longer be free
2. Windows 7 will eventually stop getting security updates.

Personally, on a laptop I didn't intend to retain as a main PC long term, I would not upgrade.

To answer your line items:

•Will Windows 10 actually improve anything? My main applications are video watching, browsing and light office (quicken, excel, word).

Not really, no.

•Will it take a long time and require me to not have a computer for hours? I am quite happy to let it run overnight, if it will reliably run unattended.

It runs unattended. In my experience it didn't take longer than an hour or so but YMMV.

•Am I likely to find that something important doesn't work after the conversion, and then discover I can't go back?

This is more likely on a laptop (which tend to have weird driver crap) than a desktop. You have 30 days to revert to the old OS which is stored when you update.
posted by selfnoise at 12:22 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

Windows 10 is pretty solid. I recommend installing it just for security's sake, if nothing else. (MS is pretty good about sending out patches to older versions of their OS, but Win 10 has a lot of under-the-hood improvements to security as well.)

I haven't encountered anything that broke with the upgrade, and I do a lot of gaming, which is probably the highest-risk activity for things going screwy. Unless you've got a lot of random Win32 programs or obscure, ancient drivers installed, you'll be fine.

The only real gotcha with Win 10 is that there are a lot of phone-home features turned on by default that you may not be comfortable with. You'll have the opportunity during the installation to turn off most of them, and I'm sure you could find a Windows 10 privacy guide (in fact, here's one) or something for the rest, if you're really concerned.
posted by tobascodagama at 12:23 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I just upgraded to Windows 10 and it took less than 30 minutes with my high-speed internet connection. It seems even more tablet and phone-oriented than Windows 8, but otherwise isn't a big difference. I did it on my media/steam console so I don't know how it affects Microsoft Office products, and I am looking forward to transitioning from watching streaming services through a browser to watching them through apps.

I probably wouldn't bother to do it on a machine I was planning on getting rid of in the next year, but any longer than that and I'd worry about whether Microsoft was going to be supporting my old OS.

As for the privacy settings, during the update process there was a pretty clear step to turn off all the reportage stuff. None of it seemed more intrusive than what Google asks to collect through Android devices.
posted by muddgirl at 12:25 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

The one problem I had is that Windows 10 deactivated the default admin account. I was able to reactivate it using a different admin account, but it had me worried for awhile until I figured out what was going on. Apparently it locks the original admin account down significantly (you can't use the calculator for some reason?). Otherwise, the transition was seamless.
posted by postel's law at 12:26 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I allowed the W10 update on my beloved VIAO powerhouse, and it wrecked the machine. I can't remember all of the gory details, but with there was a some problem with memory allocation or something, and it crippled my machine. The fan was blowing steaming hot air out the side of the laptop. On top of that whenever the laptop connects to the internet it initiates a scan; whenever a usb drive is inserted into the machine it initiates a scan.

I managed to fix a lot of the errors, but I could only do it by disabling some of W10's core features.

Now, you may say "have you tried doing this?" or "ah, but you should have done that" but the fact is that for me anyway the automatic update was a pain in the ass. I think fiddling around with Windows is a total waste of my time on this planet.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, if you are going to migrate to W10, do a clean install, not an update.

I ended up buying a couple of relatively power Chrome OS machines for the same price as a new entry-level Windows laptop.

They just work, and I literally fire up my VAIO when I do videoediting once or twice a month.
posted by My Dad at 12:28 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I went from 7 to 10 with the free upgrade on my desktop pc. I had 8 on a laptop and oh, how it bugged me. Pretty much everything annoying about 8 is corrected in 10 in my opinion, and things seem to run a little smoother and less buggy. The main thing is to turn off a lot of the semi-creepy "report everything about your activity to the mothership" stuff, which you can do later if you don't catch it during installation. I use some old weird freeware stuff and grandfathered in office software and Windows 10 runs it all just fine, as well as the more intensive gaming I occasionally do.
posted by Mizu at 12:28 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I upgraded a 1 year old lenovo ideapad and still have not got a fix for my microphone no longer working.

Lenovo is rather unconcerned about providing updated drivers for even recently produced hardware so be sure and check that your laptop is one they have decided to support. Mine was not.
posted by srboisvert at 12:28 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

(srboisvert's and My Dad's stories are why I pretty much refuse to buy a laptop from anyone either than MS or Apple. It's like buying a non-Nexus Android phone, you're pretty much at the mercy of your vendor when it comes up installing system upgrades.)
posted by tobascodagama at 12:33 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

From a user experience standpoint, it's a pretty solid win. It boots faster, shuts down faster and is generally reasonably polished in terms of interface. (You can still see vestiges of the touchscreen-only interface, but they don't cram it into your every orifice as they did in Win 8.x.)

Stability seems OK (caveat: anecdotal; sample size three systems, all modern vintage, used mostly for games).

> Some people are worried about privacy on Windows 10, but it looks more like
> diagnostic information to me for the most part. I went ahead and turned all that stuff
> off anyway.

You can and should "turn off" (i.e., set to the most restrictive setting) everything (literally every single thing) in the privacy settings. BUT:

Doing so does not disable the so-called "telemetry" data sent back to Microsoft. You can (through registry tweaks) configure one of four telemetry levels, though the most restrictive (so-called "security") is available only if you are using Enterprise, Education or IoT releases.

Regardless of setting, "telemetry" can send arbitrary files to and retrieve arbitrary files from your PC, and execute arbitrary commands. You have Microsoft's vague assurances that they have controls in place to prevent abuse, but you cannot opt out through any official means.

None of the various third-party tools I've looked at effectively plug all the leaks, though some of them can help somewhat.

It's intractably difficult to block it at the firewall or router level since: 1) the data is going to a lot of places, 2) those places change, 3) some of those places are hard to distinguish from things you need to talk to for Windows Update to work and 4) some of those places are Akamai whack-a-moles where you'll suffer collateral damage should you block them.

But if you choose to use Windows at all, Windows 10 is probably still your best option.
posted by sourcequench at 12:44 PM on February 29, 2016 [5 favorites]

I downloaded the Windows 10 update onto my main laptop (running Windows 7) when it became available, but did not install it.

In November I bought a cheap, bottom-of-the-line Windows 10 tablet for an extended international trip; partly because I decided my phone alone was not enough for the trip but my laptop was too big to lug around (changing places every 2-4 days, so it wasn't like I was in the same hotel for several weeks and could just leave my laptop there); partly because I wanted something that wouldn't be too distressing if it was lost/stolen; and partly to try out Windows 10.

I was not impressed. One of the first things I did after getting home was to delete the never-installed Windows 10 download from my main laptop.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:56 PM on February 29, 2016

I cut my teeth on dos 5.0 and have worked with every single microsoft release since, save 8.1

Windows 10 has been installed on my home desktop since it became available and has been rock solid, except: cisco VPN was broken immediately after the install, and broke again a couple of months later after the update.

But would I put it on an older laptop? No. As mentioned upthread, your vendor controls whether or not the specific hardware on your specific model of laptop will get a new driver to work with W10.

Spend your energy creating restore media for the laptop.
posted by ElGuapo at 1:19 PM on February 29, 2016 [2 favorites]

I've had so many issues with Windows 10 on multiple machines, including newer and even BRAND NEW machines that are officially "Windows 10 Ready™" that I would still not recommend it.

I can count on one hand without using all the fingers the number of machines that Just Worked. I still haven't gotten my desktop working 100% yet, my work laptop is randomly glitchy or freezes waking up from sleep(and I had to disable random command line stuff to even get it that stable), it messed up more than one brand new workstation at a contract gig I was doing bad enough to need a full wipe.

More than one friend downgraded. Even on brand new machines that were shipping with 8.1.

It messed up my surface pro so bad I was too bored to fix it because even a full reinstall it invented new ways of being screwed up.

Give it another 6 months or a year.
posted by emptythought at 1:21 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I recently brought a brand new, 'Windows 10 ready' Toshiba. Not long after upgrading to 10 (a process which was relatively quick and painless), I started having intermittent issues with my mouse pointer disappearing, requiring me to go in to the settings to turn it back on again. Last time the pointer disappeared (after a Windows update, I believe), the mouse driver also vanished, and no amount of reinstalling drivers or reverting to pre-update settings seems to fixes this problem (all of drivers that the terrible Toshiba website directs me to fail to install correctly). I'm now managing with just my touch screen and a USB mouse, until I can get my laptop to the repair shop. I mention this as Googling suggests touchpads/mice have proved problematic for multiple laptop brands after people have upgraded to Windows 10.

I was also a little taken aback by the need to provide Microsoft with an email address during the upgrade, although not overly annoyed...until I realised my email address would be prominently displayed in massive text on the login screen, for everyone to see. According to Microsoft this display setting 'cannot be changed'.
posted by brushtailedphascogale at 1:29 PM on February 29, 2016

I upgraded a new Dell desktop (I'd had it for two months) from 8 to 10 and with the exception of the driver for my wifi card, it was easy and smooth. Again, tho, it was a new machine with crappy Win 8. (BTW, they still don't have a good driver for that card. I ended up getting an external dongle.)

Not sure I'd do it with an older machine. The chance for drivers to totally fail is pretty high.
posted by clone boulevard at 1:31 PM on February 29, 2016

I have a Lenovo laptop that's maybe 5 years old -- I've lost track, exactly, but long enough that the hard drive, screen and keyboard have all been replaced. I was pleasantly surprised by Windows 10. The upgrade process was easy and quick. It's a little faster and a little more stable. My trackpad, of all things, works better under W10. If I'm honest, the novelty of a slightly different look and behavior is probably half of what I enjoy about it. By default it periodically tries to sell you the latest version of Office, but that behavior is easy enough to stop. The only problem I've had is that for a couple of days YouTube videos didn't play properly. I rebooted, and that issue fixed itself.
posted by jon1270 at 1:33 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

Windows 7 mainstream support is already over with. You have 4 years until extended support is done with. So, 4 more years of security updates until you really have to do something. I would claim the upgrade if nothing else now; it will stop being free on July 26th. You don't have to install it immediately. The new model of things is supposed to be "10 is the last version and we just push out updates continuously" but I'm not 100% sure how that's going to actually work out, but, assuming it does work that way, getting the free 10 license will mean you won't have to ever really upgrade again, at least on that computer.

Personally, I had no issues using the developer/beta builds (other than I managed to screw it up and therefore lost my really free license), and the upgrades I've done from 7 to 10 have been.. rather boring. The only hardware incompatibilities I've had are on my 2008 MacBook, and that has more to do with the fact that Apple doesn't provide updated drivers for that system anymore. (Plus, the drivers in question were somewhat flaky under Windows 7 too.) The only real issue I had is that, when I connected it to my MS account, it decided to use it as the login name and password rather than the one I had set. That was rather annoying. But, other than that, no real issues, other than the ones that were already there. That MacBook really went from being a pretty useless computer to my now daily driver, so I'm quite happy with Windows 10 so far.
posted by mrg at 1:42 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I updated two computers to Windows 10. One was a Surface Pro 3 which was running Windows 8 and the other was a 4-5 year old Lenovo that was running Windows 7. I have no complaints with the Surface Pro 3. I suspect it is using battery more than it should be but that may also be down to my wife not charging the thing after using it. On the old Lenovo all the hardware seems to work but it does takes a long time to go from the login screen to the desktop. Once running it seems to be fine but I only use the Lenovo for the copy of Lightroom it has on it.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:54 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've tried three times to upgrade my Asus laptop (currently running Windows 7, which I'm happy with) and each time it's taken hours and hours and finally given me a failure notice; based on some of the stories here I guess I won't try again.
posted by languagehat at 2:05 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I like it with the big exception that it constantly wants to install updates and then reboot the pc. The prompts are so frequent that they become a problem. I prefer to control when things get updated and especially when the machine restarts.

None of the steps that you'll find around the web to stop this behavior work for me.

With that in mind, I've found the OS to be fast and reliable. Cortana is useful if you're on a laptop, or a desktop with an always-active mic. I like the notification center. Windows 10 fixed a long standing problem I had with thumbnails. It's compatible with everything software program and piece of hardware that I have. Also if you have an Xbox One it integrates with that in some useful ways.
posted by aerotive at 2:18 PM on February 29, 2016

sourcequench: Regardless of setting, "telemetry" can send arbitrary files to and retrieve arbitrary files from your PC, and execute arbitrary commands. You have Microsoft's vague assurances that they have controls in place to prevent abuse, but you cannot opt out through any official means.

This is a big part of the reason why, when faced with the same choice, I decided to upgrade my Thinkpad X201 to Linux Mint instead. I can honestly say that I've never been happier with an OS, and that's coming from someone who grew up with Windows from Win'95.
It's up to you. There are options.
posted by Too-Ticky at 2:20 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I like Windows 10--aside from its most recent update, which promptly took out the speakers (this is, as I soon discovered, a common problem). Ergo, I undid the recent update. Other than that, it's been pleasantly non-buggy.
posted by thomas j wise at 2:22 PM on February 29, 2016

I scanned the answers but didn't see this: you can upgrade to 10 and try it. If in the first 30 days you decide that you don't like it you can downgrade back to whatever you had before. Instructions here.

I upgraded from 7 on my very basic Asus netbook and I uninstalled after using it for a week. The upgrade took a few hours, without me needing to do anything. First it downloads the files, which were a few gigs for, and then it installs them.

Windows 10 looked fine and was pretty easy to figure out how to navigate. But my wireless connection began to cut out regularly. I think this is because my machine is not good enough to run Windows 10 well. I downgraded back to Windows 7 (It's super easy - literally a setting that's like "Do you want to go back to Windows 7?" And it restores everything (all of your files and settings) to how it was before the upgrade.
posted by eisforcool at 2:38 PM on February 29, 2016 [4 favorites]

I would install it on a desktop but wait on a laptop until near the last minute because they seem to have more compatibility issues. I recommend cloning the drive first. The installation is faster than it was going to XP or 7.

I was reluctant to go from 7 to 10, but I'm really happy with the upgrade and finding myself booting more often into Windows. Definitely disable all the phoning home (spread across multiple menus) and disable Cortana so the search bar is just a really fast local search similar to Spotlight/Alfred on OSX. Unpin all the bright squares in the Start menu to make it more the familiar old size.
posted by michaelh at 2:50 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a piece of shit desktop assembled from Craigslist (well, Gumtree) parts and held together with gardening twine, and I upgraded from Windows 7 to 10, and it's great! I've noticed performance increases (particularly with bootup and shutdown), plus you can easily configure it to look like 7, and while 7 didn't exactly crash all the time it did sometimes crash a little bit, and 10 seems much more stable.

Having said that, we run Linux Mint on our "media centre PC" (and old laptop attached to the telly with HDMI), and it's perfectly fine as well, though pretty counter-intuitive for an old Windows guy like me. If I used it for more than just playing stuff off Netflix or a USB stick I might like it more, who knows.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:15 PM on February 29, 2016

The telemetry stuff isn't just a Windows 10 thing. Windows 7 had the "telemetry" features added via automatic updates in 2015.
posted by LoveHam at 5:59 PM on February 29, 2016 [3 favorites]

I upgraded from 7 to 10 on my main computer, lasted about 10 minutes, then promptly downgraded and never looked back. (You can downgrade pretty easily within a certain amount of time and provided you haven't done something ...*mumble mumble*...I don't remember the details, but basically you can probably revert back to 7 if you hate it but only if you haven't borked a few things or waited a really long time.) For me, when it upgraded to 10 it moved all of my files to a different location and they were impossible to find without searching the whole computer. IIRC they were hidden in a folder it had retitled "old" and placed somewhere weird, and it was only through frantic googling that I figured out they were still there and not just gone. Because otherwise my computer looked wiped clean--default desktop with no icons, no files to be found, etc. It freaked me the F out.

My computer runs fine, I like 7, and you could not pay me enough to try and switch again. That being said, I have a cheaper laptop that ran 8 and I always hated that, so I upgraded that one to 10 and it was smooth sailing. Not sure why 7 -> 10 was so bad for me, but 8->10 was just fine.
posted by Bella Sebastian at 6:32 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

I have a six year old Toshiba that I just upgraded from Windows 7, and it has made my computer a LOT slower. I'm using Edge, the MS browser, because it was murdering Firefox. More than about five tabs open and it quit doing anything.
posted by atchafalaya at 7:12 PM on February 29, 2016

I upgraded from Win7 on my 4-year-old Dell laptop and while Win10 was faster, it moved everything around, was a bitch to get used to (I'm still finding my way around) and the very WORST thing is the frequent, non-negotiable updates that sometimes take several hours to install. So far the record is 'all night and then four hours after that'.

I've also heard horror stories about people's files going missing, although this hasn't happened to me, so beware.

Of course, soon you won't have a choice, assuming you want to stick with Windows. Sucks to be loyal, huh?
posted by HypotheticalWoman at 8:38 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

use a program like Startisback to revert back to the old desktop/start menu

That's good advice for Windows 8. For Windows 10, you can regain a reasonably non-distracting Start menu simply by deleting all the default tiles from the right-hand pane right after you do the installation, then letting that pane build itself up over time as you pin things to Start.

If you never pin anything, and just rely on the most-frequently-used list, the Windows 10 Start menu works similarly enough to the Windows 7 one as not to be a nuisance.
posted by flabdablet at 11:13 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

That said: I can't think of even one good reason for somebody who is currently happy with Windows 7 to switch to 10 on any machine they're unlikely still to be using when 7 reaches end-of-life.
posted by flabdablet at 11:15 PM on February 29, 2016 [1 favorite]

My rule of thumb with MS OS's has always been, "wait until after Service Pack 1." They have rarely gotten what consumers want done before then and everyone else can learn how to make the OS not suck as much.
Source: Windows admin for a decade.
Caveat: I haven't even touched Windows 8, much less 10.
posted by mfu at 3:24 AM on March 1, 2016 [4 favorites]

I tried to upgrade and Windows 10 downloaded but wouldn't install and the recommended fix looked complicated so I gave up.
posted by betsybetsy at 4:44 AM on March 1, 2016

> [...] Linux Mint instead. I can honestly say that I've never been happier with an OS,
> and that's coming from someone who grew up with Windows from Win'95.
> It's up to you. There are options.

Having extensive experience with Windows and most of the alternatives, I absolutely use Linux (mostly Debian-ish things) anywhere I possibly can. If that works for you, it's a win.

That said, I don't think very many people are using Windows because they love Windows itself a great big huggy bunch. Rather, they are using it because one or more Windows-only applications are (or are perceived to be) critical to their workflow.

The reason I keep Windows boxes (or Windows partitions) around is to run games, and I use Windows 10 for that because it gets in the way less than other Windows versions.
posted by sourcequench at 8:11 AM on March 1, 2016

I've upgraded a laptop and a desktop. No major issues. I like the interface better than Win8, about the same as Win7. Also, it may set any random thing back to a default, or to an earlier choice of setting.

One thing that I don't like about Win8 and Win10 is that the setup virtually requires you to give them an email address at Microsoft. I'm pretty sure this can be avoided, but probably you won't avoid it, and it carries the problem of re-using an old password or trying to remember a new one.

One weird thing that happened recently on the laptop. The search box had was doing a simple Bing search, which I don't want, but it's innocuous. I forget how it arose, but there was the chance of upgrading that to Cortana (distinction without a difference?) so I said OK. It demanded an account, as above, and changed the password for login to the laptop to that email password! Again, this might have been avoided, but by the time it popped up a message saying what it was doing, it seemed scary not to proceed. I thought it was pretty outrageous. Often enough, I just click the messages away without paying much attention. If I had done that here, it would have locked me out.
posted by SemiSalt at 7:54 AM on March 4, 2016

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