Should I upgrade to Windows 10?
March 5, 2016 6:38 PM   Subscribe

My laptop runs Windows 7. Windows keeps pestering me to upgrade to 10. Should I or shouldn't I?

Laptop is a Toshiba Satellite C55-B with 6GB RAM. I use it for word processing, email, and web browsing -- nothing particularly high-performance. I have no particular complaints about Windows 7, except that I hate how it automatically installs updates on shutdown/startup without asking, but it looks like that's a "feature" of Windows 10 also. Microsoft's upgrade utility assures me that my system meets the requirements for Windows 10, but that doesn't mean much. Would it run faster? Slower? Is W10 more secure? Is W7 support going to be phased out? Are there nifty new features in W10? Other things I should know about? If you've used both, what do you like/hate about each?
posted by zeri to Computers & Internet (19 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If your system "meets requirements" but doesn't exceed them by much, I'd probably not update - it might be slower than you'd be comfortable with. But if you blow past the "requirements" by a decent margin, it will probably be faster than what you're using now. I find 10 to be fairly stylish and reasonably intuitive, though of course it also depends on how you feel about change.

Oh, the only issue I had was with my laptop's touchpad - the drivers didn't work with 10 and I was unable to replace them (I tried everything I could think of.) Mine was a totally different brand (Asus) so it may very well be perfectly fine for you, and the mouse itself still works, but the extra "gestures" don't function. I ended up buying a wireless mouse to use because I missed the additional features too much.

I think that's a pretty uncommon problem to have, but I figured I should mention it.

And yeah, it does do the auto-update thing. I think it can be disabled but I just schedule it for when I'm not using the computer and let it do its thing.
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 7:18 PM on March 5, 2016

Maybe also check on Windows saying it will charge for future updates to Windows 10?
posted by donaken at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2016

I wouldn't. The Start menu can just decide to die in Windows 10 and it's a pain in the ass to fix.
posted by bleep at 8:03 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

See here.
posted by selfnoise at 8:06 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

Like you, I'm not a power user or gamer, other than occasional online flash-based stuff. I upgraded to 10 late last year and it seems fine to me. The UI only takes a little getting used to, but otherwise it's pretty seamless, unlike the major headaches you hear everyone talking about with 8.

It appears to have some helpful 'live' widget-like things in the start menu, but I haven't used any of them. Could be a concern if you have limited bandwidth, but otherwise they're easy to just ignore if they're not useful to you.

If you are worried, know that the rollback process was completely simple and surprisingly quick. I had to roll back to 7 twice because of (what turned out to be) a known issue with VPN software that killed my wireless drivers; I had to roll back, uninstall my Cisco VPN I use for work, and re-install it after upgrading before my wireless was stable. Works fine now. I would argue that everything seems faster and snappier than 7, although I did transfer everything to an SSD about a month before I upgraded, so that may be where I'm perceiving a lot of the increase. No complaints though. I think you'll be fine with upgrading based on your limited usage. Windows 7 will provide security patches until 2020, but by then you'll have to pay to upgrade. Might as well get it while it's free (through July).

Maybe also check on Windows saying it will charge for future updates to Windows 10?

This is a myth.

The Start menu can just decide to die in Windows 10 and it's a pain in the ass to fix

For what it's worth, neither my wife nor I have ever experienced any issues with the Start menu (or anything else for that matter). YMMV.
posted by SquidLips at 8:07 PM on March 5, 2016

Booting windows 10 is much faster than windows 7. This alone makes upgrading worthwhile.
posted by monotreme at 8:26 PM on March 5, 2016 [1 favorite]

I upgraded my laptop, my tv pc (old box attached to a television), my 2010 Atom based small backup machine, and my work system and am quite happy with Windows 10. Only one system has an issue, the tv pc. If I turn off the TV and then later turn it back on, the Taskbar usually disappears. To get it back I use Windows Key + x and select Task Manager and the restart Windows Explorer to get it back.
posted by juiceCake at 8:33 PM on March 5, 2016

For what it's worth, neither my wife nor I have ever experienced any issues with the Start menu (or anything else for that matter).

I have had this issue perpetually. I have reinstalled windows 10 three times now, and it seems to be just a matter of time before I don't have a start menu and the associated loss of functionality. I'm trying to find a way to roll back to Win 7 this weekend, in fact, as a result. Just sick of it.
posted by Brockles at 8:38 PM on March 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

I'd stick on Windows 7 and disable automatic updates (just tell it to notify you and not download/install them). Also, you can disable the W10 nag.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:42 PM on March 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

I upgraded and haven't had any problems, or decrease in speed or anything. Your mileage will vary. Give it a shot, and see how you go - you can always roll back to 7 easily so long as you don't leave it too long on Windows 10 (I think it's like a month or something).
posted by smoke at 8:43 PM on March 5, 2016

Here's a handy little tool (GWX Control Panel) to disable all the "Upgrade to Windows 10" naggery, if you choose to go the route of staying on 7 and don't feel like being vigilant about inspecting your Windows Updates and editing your registry.
posted by destructive cactus at 9:33 PM on March 5, 2016

I tried, with a stock Lenova Thinkpad T-61. After the lengthy download and install, it just turned itself off. When I powered it back up, "Windows 10 Install failed for Unknown Reason" and it reverted back to 7, with no problems. So of course, YMMV.
posted by Rash at 10:10 PM on March 5, 2016

I haven't touched Windows since XP, but I have seen multiple threads on Slashdot about unwanted downloads, borked updates and telemetry issues (such as today's update - which does not affect all users ), so since it looks like you don't *need* to upgrade, I'd be wary about making any change.
posted by Mezentian at 6:22 AM on March 6, 2016 [2 favorites]

Mine was a fresh install on a shiny new machine after my other computer couldn't locate C:/ (hard drive failure) and, in the nine years I ran win 7, I don't ever remember having a significant problem with that machine.

With Win10 a lot of my grips about this OS are over privacy. I left all fields blank, including a name for the computer and administrative account, during the initial set up and I'm now looking at the desktop when I noticed one note. I have it on my phone, and though I don't sync across devices, I thought "why not? It might actually be worth it." The next morning I boot up, and I'm met with a new screen that welcomes Ms. Squeak. Win10 had unilaterally renamed my administrative account to my real name and one note password, without ever asking for my permission.

Forced updates have broken hardware features on my machine. I have some USB ports that speedily charge devices even when the computer is off, but one of the recent updates disabled the driver over "incompatibility" and the hardware vendor still haven't updated the driver to meet MS compliance. I have other drivers with the same issue.
posted by squeak at 7:42 AM on March 6, 2016 [3 favorites]

I have upgraded two PCs to Win10. Basically, it's pretty solid, but MS does take every and any opportunity to get their nose under the tent. I had an experience somewhat like the one described by squeak where MS changed the login password on my user account on a laptop pretty much without permission. (or, if I gave permission, I didn't know what I was giving permission for). Since that account is the only account and thus the administrator account on the machine, I could have been in a fix if I had not read and understood the message they posted.

There were some places where I though the install reset some options to defaults, or to settings that were not the final settings. These were non-critical items like the desktop background.
posted by SemiSalt at 9:05 AM on March 6, 2016

I have no particular complaints about Windows 7, except that I hate how it automatically installs updates on shutdown/startup without asking

If you've got Windows 7 Home, then you'll get Windows 10 Home, and Windows 10 Home will not only automatically install updates on shutdown/startup - it will eventually force-restart your machine in the middle of whatever you're doing in order to install updates, and provide you with no way to prevent this behaviour.
posted by flabdablet at 10:16 AM on March 6, 2016

I wouldn't.

My previous PC had Win 7 Professional, and I got a new laptop recently which came with Windows 8 Home. I intensely disliked Windows 8, so I upgraded Windows 8 to Windows 10, which seems to be working fine, and I prefer it. They're really the same thing with a bit of UI tweaks though. It does feel a bit more invasive than 8, though, but on the plus side I can actually close programs instead of waiting for them to close themselves (and yet not doing so).

But I prefer Windows 7 over all and I have often thought of downgrading. It felt more stable, and a little bit more logical in the way it worked. One of the things I don't particularly enjoy about the 10 build is that are two ways to manage most system settings. Either with the more simple 'app' system UI, or the old-style looking 'control panel' UI, too. For example, if you want to uninstall a program, if you search for 'uninstall', it will give you a hidden option to access uninstalls by either the system settings or the more familiar control panel.

They are virtually identical in terms of what they do, except the system setting is more simplified and deals in 'apps', the Control Panel deals in 'programs' and things you download from the 'App store' sometimes will not show up in the CP uninstall menu, and occasionally you'll get some things not showing in the app uninstall.

It's kind of stupid and confusing really, and I don't see the point of having two different aesthetic menus that more or less do the same exact thing. This also goes for other major services like Networking and such-- it has a simplified systems setting UI but when you click on 'advanced' a it'll go to the control panel UI. I guess the upside is that you now get access to the app store, so you can get things for your desktop like the Netflix app (which you need to use your browser to access on Windows 7).

However, In the same vein, you can download both an app and a program of the same thing. At one point I didn't realize I had a Skype app and a Skype for desktop program on my PC at the same exact time. The app was terrible, by the way, and crashed constantly.

It's also still a bit glitchy in parts, and has odd quirks and settings enabled that make it behave in odd ways. I have an issue where upon startup, Wifi and Webcam was always off, and I'd have to force it on with the function keys, or restart to get it to work. It wasn't a big deal, but it got annoying fast. Online help said it was the wifi settings in power management. I fiddled with all the settings in power management to fix it, turned power saving features off, to no avail. Then I stumbled upon 'quickstart' setting, which is what was causing it to fail. With quickstart off, it doesn't do it any more-- but it took about 2-3 hours of troubleshooting to find a solution. I actually had to figure it out on my own in the end, quickstart was a setting that had nothing to do with power management settings and menu's.

Of course, when it auto-updated, it reset all my settings again, including that one. This is a bug, apparently, but no less annoying. File associations, too. Speaking of file associations, it is a bit funny about those; like for a media player like Winamp or VLC it'll prompt you what files you want to associate with that program. It always seems to leave some files out, even if I select all file types, it likes to hold on to certain associations and in those cases, you need to go in and change them manually. That said, they're easy to change back.

My sound works strangely too; the sound driver Win 10 uses doesn't work externally very well on my computer, and I get no sound sometimes with the headphones unplugged. I always have to reset the driver. I have a better driver that is from the brand, but the computer considers the Windows driver the 'latest' and won't upgrade it. At all. You can't make it.

Also there are a fair amount of settings you need to disable because it does have some invasive things on by default, which is annoying. And as other said, it auto-updates. You can put the updates off, but it gets fed up after a while and really wants you to do it.

I mean, these are minor gripes, even though typing it out it feels like a lot. I just think Win 7 worked better and made more sense. I also thought Aero was prettier and had more customization.

Oh and you need an official Microsoft login for your PC, (like you need an Apple ID or Google ID to use Android or Apple products) I'd imagine for the same reasons they do it-- marketing and keeping track of you. You can use an existing email though or make a hotmail account, but you need to make an account, unlike 7, which you can write whatever you want for the login.

I guess I should mention some pros. It's faster, it's nice and crisp, more simplified, if that's what you like... um... well I don't hate it. But if I could get Win 7 on here easily, I'd probably downgrade. It wasn't broke, you know?
posted by Dimes at 12:09 PM on March 6, 2016

As others have noted, Windows 10 is relentlessly intrusive. If you want a fast boot up on your existing system, a good SSD will more than cover the situation. It would also avoid the crippling effects of a UEFI bootup which Windows 10, in its wisdom, insists must be done its way. If, as I have, you encounter separate problems (either in the CPU or the motherboard), look forward to endless blue screens of death as Windows cleverly tries to fix the problem and makes matters worse, followed by insistent messages to reinsert my password. Oh, and the old "Do you want Windows to look on the internet for a solution?", which must be one of the sourest jokes on the Net, is still there. Stick with what you've got, people.
posted by alonsoquijano at 1:40 PM on March 6, 2016

and you need an official Microsoft login for your PC

During the installation process it'll ask you for a Microsoft account, but when you click through to "create a new account" there is an option to "sign in without a Microsoft account" which is what I did, and why the OneNote debacle, in part, pisses me off so much.

Games otoh require an xbox live account even if it's just a quick game of pre-installed minesweeper, or freecell.
posted by squeak at 2:24 PM on March 6, 2016

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