Should I upgrade to Win 10?
May 30, 2016 11:02 AM   Subscribe

I have a Lenovo Thinkpad T460 laptop. I purchased it with the Windows 7 Professional downgrade because I was not ready to make the Windows 10 leap. The free upgrade option ends in two months. I am trying to decide whether or not to go for it. I welcome all opinions, but especially those of IT people who can tell me what configuration, privacy, and hardware tradeoffs I'm making.

Current facts about my computer and usage:
  • 500 GB SATA III SSD, 16 GB DDR3L 1600 RAM, i5-6300U processor
  • Used mainly for heavy internet browsing, office-type work (writing, spreadsheets, planning, etc), reading and notating papers, watching movies
  • Also do light programming, data manipulation, and simulation (Matlab, R, Origin, Pymol/GROMACS) and this usage will be stepping up in the next few years. Have some VM needs.
  • No gaming or serious video and graphics editing
  • Don't have a touchscreen
Reasons against upgrading
  1. I remember switching to Windows 8 and how long it took to uninstall all the useless apps and get used to the interface. In every Windows 8 computer I've used I've installed Classic Shell to make it bearable. I never got over the feeling my laptop was slower than it needed to be.
  2. I hate all the dumb apps. I am the sort of person who wants as clean and stripped-down an installation as possible. Granted, this is an issue for every Windows installation ever.
  3. I don't want a Microsoft Account. I don't want OneDrive, I don't want all my shit in the cloud, I don't want all my data tracked, and I resent that I need to spend an hour digging through settings and turning all that off after upgrading.
  4. I don't like that configuration settings get buried further down with each successive Windows iteration. For example, with Windows 7 if I want to edit something about a wireless network I click on the wireless bars icon, it opens up a list of networks, and then I right-click on the network I want to edit and it takes me directly to all the complicated multi-tab properties sections. This was considerably more difficult in Windows 8. I don't like software designers trying to keep me from tweaking my computer's settings.
Reasons for upgrading
  1. I have read that Windows 10 is faster and will work better with my hardware. I don't know if this is true.
  2. I have read updates to Windows 7 and 8 are background installing all the tracking widgets of Windows 10 in the background anyway, so my concerns about privacy are moot. I don't know if this is true.
  3. It is supposed to be theoretically possible to upgrade to Windows 10 without creating a Microsoft account (though I understand OneDrive is permanently embedded in the system)
  4. I have heard Windows 10 is more secure. Also don't know if this is true.
If Windows 10 really would be significantly faster and better than Windows 7, then it would be worth everything else. But I don't know if it's that much better. I would really appreciate any input. Thank you!

(also, would there be a way for me to say I want the upgrade, and then just not upgrade yet? Sort of put it on hold indefinitely past July?)
posted by schroedinger to Computers & Internet (15 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Yes. Windows 10 works better on a lot of counts. And while it can be a hair tricky, it's absolutely possible to upgrade without having a Microsoft account.
posted by wotsac at 11:14 AM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Major Lenovo specific issue: if you have a fingerprint reader installed and set up, uninstall everything surrounding that before you install it. Apart from that, I'm very pleased with it on my T430. Using it with a second monitor, being able to run screens at a different DPI's very nice. As is having an emoji keyboard. But these are the scale of things that are useful to me. And the social media apps.
posted by ambrosen at 11:24 AM on May 30, 2016

I went to bed a Windows 8 man and woke up a Windows 10 man. I got snared in the surprise upgrade mess. Most people seem to have done fine and Windows 10 IS a better OS, but my upgrade was a disaster. My display drivers stopped working, Chrome stopped launching, the firewall was killing apps at random. I ended up having to format and re-install which was not awful, but far from great.

Back up your beloved data and do a clean install.
posted by GilloD at 11:33 AM on May 30, 2016

I upgraded a Lenovo b575 laptop, and now the thing won't shut down properly, and won't wake from sleep. It shuts down most of the way, but you have to hold down the power button for a bit to completely to shut it down. If it sleeps, you have to do a hard shut down and reboot. I tried a complete clean re-install, and still didn't fix the problem, and from the looks of it Lenovo doesn't have complete hardware support for Windows 10 for older machines. Except for those very annoying problems, Windows 10 works great and I'm quite impressed by it. Given that you chose a downgrade from Win 10, you probably will have better luck than me. To do a clean install, Microsoft has a thing to let you make a bootable Windows 10 installation USB stick which is really slick.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:33 PM on May 30, 2016

the automatic upgrade is a fiasco, but overall I think Win 10 is better than Win 8.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:47 PM on May 30, 2016

I really like Win 10, but one of the known bugs is that it can disable your sound card. There are various work-arounds that are not 100% reliable. (I have a native Win 10 machine, and upgrades still disable the sound card. I've had to disallow.)
posted by thomas j wise at 12:57 PM on May 30, 2016

The only experience I have had with Windows 10 is continually fixing my parents' computers (one automatically upgraded, the other they requested I upgrade them from 8.1). While Windows 10 is better than Windows 8, I prefer 7 and will be sticking on it on my computers here at my house.

I never believe that a newer OS will be faster on legacy hardware. I assume that they always require more resources, and this is a 2 version jump.
posted by getawaysticks at 1:07 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Back up your beloved data and do a clean install.

worth re-stating ...
posted by philip-random at 1:07 PM on May 30, 2016

You can do the upgrade to w10 & activate it, then reset the machine to w7 (there's a built-in roll-back feature you can use within 30 days of upgrading). I believe that will lock in your free w10 upgrade for whenever you want it. Kind of kludgy, but I think it would work.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 1:29 PM on May 30, 2016

I upgraded my Thinkpad X1 from 7 to 10, and some of the drivers got borked. When this happened I had other things to do and didn't want to spend the time sorting it out, so I went to use the built-in roll-back feature: Windows politely informed me it was, "not available for this install".
posted by 7 Minutes of Madness at 3:33 PM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I've upgraded two computers. I have had one version incompatibility (a VPN), and I have an issue with a Toshiba power management utility. The upgrade does not install bloatware, at least not the visible kind. The best reason to upgrade is if you hate Win 8. The user experience of 10 is more like 7.

The privacy issues are too confusing for me to understand, but the fact is that Win 10 demands that you yield up an email to Microsoft. You don't have to yield to the demand, but it's hard not to.

Back up your data before the upgrade. Really.
posted by SemiSalt at 4:07 PM on May 30, 2016

Back up everything, obv, but Win10 is excellent and my upgrade was seamless and well worthwhile.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:53 PM on May 30, 2016

Re: the email address, though they're not very clear about it, it doesn't have to be a Microsoft or email.
posted by Sebmojo at 6:54 PM on May 30, 2016

Whether or not you want to stick with it, I would recommend upgrading anyway to get a valid licence. As you say, the free upgrade offer expires soon. Once you have upgraded there's nothing to stop you from going straight back to Windows 7, only now you have a Windows 10 licence key (make sure to note it down somewhere before "downgrading" again) that may be handy in future.

As for Windows 10 itself, I have found that performance feels much faster than Windows 7, though that could just be the effect of doing a format and clean install. I clicked whatever "No seriously, I don't want a Microsoft account" button there was in the install process and it hasn't bugged me about it since. Some of the pre-installed apps need one, but it sounds like you don't want to use them anyway (me neither). Without a Microsoft account, and after hiding the stupid search bar that takes up half the taskbar by default, it just feels like a faster, blacker Windows 7.

This is a really useful overview of the various privacy-related settings you might want to change.
posted by the long dark teatime of the soul at 1:28 AM on May 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

For my desktop I decided to stick with Windows 7. I figure since it has at least another 4 years of support when it goes I will probably be ready to build a new computer. Worst case, I end up spending $120 or whatever for the Windows 10 upgrade because I didn't bother to grab a free one. There is a lot of annoying shit in Windows 10 that I didn't want on my computer. I am the type of computer user that wants as little cruft and as few layers between me and controlling the machine as possible. Changing settings on Windows 10 is a pain in the arse.
posted by fimbulvetr at 7:43 AM on May 31, 2016

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