Should You Upgrade to Windows 10?

Is Microsoft’s Latest Good Enough To Replace 7?

It’s a question many have been asking-and arguing over-for a year. After the thunderous outrage of Windows 8’s huge redesign, it was understandable. Is Windows 10 another dramatic makeover? If you’re coming from Windows 8, the answer is yes. However, if you’re coming from Windows 7, the answer is “sort of.” But there’s some caveats. But with just hours left in Microsoft’s promotion where you get the new operating system for free, the question remains. Should you upgrade to Windows 10? Let’s talk about it.

Isn’t Windows 10 Full of Spyware?

This is one of those persistent questions that’s dogged Windows 10 pretty much from the word go. Microsoft has integrated a lot of cloud functionality into Windows 10. Naturally, that means there’s data traveling to and from your PC to the services you use in the cloud. Some of that is things like your Windows login credentials using your Microsoft account. This ensures you have legitimate and secure access to multiple features.  These include Office, OneDrive, Skype, Calendar and Contacts syncing and Cortana. Cortana’s many features for helping you search, schedule, or find answers to your questions.

But the “worrisome” bits are really about Microsoft’s telemetry, which gets sent to Microsoft’s servers on a regular basis. The reports vary that data is sent from once to several times per day.

But what is telemetry?

Simply put, telemetry is simply data about your computer. Its hardware and software, errors that happen, and what was going on when the error happened. If a program crashes, it might contain information about what you were doing. Did you click a specific spot? Activate a specific function? The program reported when it crashed. According to Microsoft, this data is stripped of anything personally identifiable. It’s only used in aggregate to determine trending problems. For example, if a large number of users with the same wifi chip as you are consistently having connectivity problems, they can use this data to try and figure out why, and fix the problem with an update to Windows 10 itself or by releasing (or asking the OEM to release) a new driver. If you’re a little paranoid, you can turn off Windows telemetry completely.

Long story short: no, Windows 10 is not full of “spyware”.

Won’t an Upgrade to Windows 10 Slow Down my Computer?

This might be most peoples’ biggest worry. For many years, one thing guaranteed about a computer OS upgrade was that it would be larger and run slower on older hardware. But this trend stopped, at least for Windows, after the Windows Vista debacle. Since then, every version of Windows released is better optimized than its predecessor and makes better use of system resources. Indeed, the minimum system requirements for Windows haven’t changed since Windows Vista, with the exception that 8x and 10x require CPU features such as PAE, NX and SSE2, which have been standard for many years. See the table here for those deets. For the most part, if your PC runs Windows 7 well, it’ll run Windows 10 well.

Operating System Size

CPU RAM HDD GPU
Vista  1 GHz 1 GB 15 GB  DirectX 9
WDDM Driver
128 MB of graphics memory
7 1 GHz 2 GB 20 GB  DirectX 9
a WDDM 1.0 driver
8/8.1 1 GHz * 2 GB 20 GB  DirectX 9
WDDM driver
10 1 GHz * 2 GB 16 GB  DirectX 9
WDDM driver

What If My PC Doesn’t Have a Touch Screen?

One of the things that frustrated people about Windows 8 and 8.1 is that they felt like a touch screen UI was being forced on them. Which was frustrating, as most people didn’t own touch screens. While you could get around with just a keyboard and mouse, doing so was often more of a chore than it needed to be. Windows 10, however, fixes this by dialing back some of the more extreme choices made in Windows 8.

For one, the Start Menu now actually offers a menu for desktop and laptop users. However, it very wisely retains Windows 8’s cleverest idea: live tiles. With live tiles, you can create a mini “dashboard” of sorts that offers up quick access to information you might want. This includes new emails or messages from Facebook, Skype or other apps to start. There are also apps for showing your next calendar appointment, the weather and more, all without needing to launch an app. That’s pretty cool.

The taskbar also features heavily, offering all the great features of the Windows 7 and 8 taskbars while also adding support for notifications and, as of the Anniversary Update coming out August 2nd, the new Windows Ink system. And if you do happen to have a tablet or other touch screen capable desktop or laptop, you can always put the Start Menu into full screen mode to customize as you wish.

Other Improvements with Windows 10

Windows Explorer is also better with an upgrade to Windows 10. It offers easy mouse wheel scrolling without having to click in the section you want (you hover and spin the wheel), as well as quick shortcuts to some of your most used file locations.

On the hardware front, Windows 10 uses less RAM and fewer processor cycles than Windows 7 or 8x, so in normal usage it should feel at least as fast most of the time. Plus its boot speed is crazy fast, especially if you have an SSD. (These days, you should always have an SSD at least as your OS hard drive, given how cheap and fast they are).

Finally, with the Windows Store, you’ll have access to a fast, safe, clean source of apps to do all kinds of things. From simple games, to Instagram clients, to photo editors, now it’s a lot easier to find an app to do what you want without worry about installing virus-riddled programs from some strange website. Many of these apps are free. As Windows 10 continues to mature, you’ll start seeing legacy programs sold through the store as well. You can meet your software needs without the risk of random google searches.

But the question remains: should you upgrade to Windows 10?

Here’s what I think

In the grand scheme of things, software evolves forward. That’s never been more true than it is right now. Windows 10 is the latest from Microsoft. It supports more hardware, more kinds of apps and more kinds of devices than any Windows ever. It’s fast and stable, and it’s here for the long haul. Plus, until July 29th, it’s a free upgrade for anyone running on Windows 7 or 8.

Is there a learning curve? Certainly, there is. But you’re smart, and with just a little time in Windows 10’s Get Started app, you’ll learn how to use the new features and navigate the OS. It isn’t especially difficult, though I do realize that big change can be troubling for some people. If you’re coming from 7, the changes are smaller than if you’re coming from 8. Since more of you will be coming from 7, that’s probably a good thing.

So should you upgrade to Windows 10? I think the answer to that question is yes. Particularly with the anniversary upgrade coming out on August 2nd, Windows 10 has never been better. Arguably, Windows itself has never been better. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll offer a comprehensive set of tutorials and videos on using Windows 10’s many cool features, and if you dive into the comments with any questions, I’ll try to help wherever I can. I won’t always have the answers, but if I can help, I will.

Go ahead and upgrade to Windows 10. I think you’ll be glad you did, in the long haul.

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