It’s time for Decision 2016, but unfortunately not the decision most of us would rather get out of the way to get on with our lives…or is it? Microsoft is ending its year-long offer this Friday of a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 machines to Windows 10. Though I may say with no small amount of sarcasm that I’m surprised more people haven’t taken advantage of this offer (or been taken advantage of, depending on your vantage point), Microsoft is sticking to its guns and after Friday, Windows 10 Home upgrade will be $119. And the decision, in case it hasn’t already been made for you (sound familiar?), is whether or not you should upgrade to Windows 10. With nearly a year of watching people being flung into the upgrade abyss without warning, my answer hasn’t changed, and the release of the cost of taking the free road makes it easier for me to explain why. For every single trouble-free upgrade I’ve come across, I’ve come across 3 that are in varying degrees of dysfunction. If you like those odds, or value multiple hours of your time at less than $119, then push that button before Friday.
Dang it, Woo, why you gotta be such a Debbie Downer?
Windows 10 on a brand new machine runs great. It’s a nice evolution of the Windows operating system, and for the most part it runs just like Windows 7 with a little 8 for spice. The new OS isn’t the problem – the problem is your old computer and its years-old operating system. Even if it’s been professionally managed, kept squeaky clean and “barely used”, all Windows operating systems build up what I call “cruft” over time. With use, Windows computers builds up the technical equivalent of barnacles, but unlike ship hulls, we can’t dry-dock your PC and scrape it clean. If you want to upgrade your computer to Windows 10, the most trouble-free experience will only come if the computer hard drive is wiped clean and Windows 10 installed fresh. Even then, there are no guarantees that your computer (despite Microsoft’s insistence) is really ready for Windows 10. The most common, aggravating problems my clients have experienced have come from buggy drivers for their video cards, network interfaces and peripherals, as well as forced upgrades to Internet Explorer 11 which many times will render older corporate web apps unstable or unusable. The latter problem will be fixed (over time, maybe), but for some older hardware, there won’t be upgraded drivers, forcing you to upgrade the affected device, if you even can. Another inexplicable and (eventually) untreatable problem is a slow degrade in performance after your OS is upgraded. Windows 10 will run, but parts will frequently crash or just won’t open their interfaces. Your computer will take long pauses for no apparent reason, sometimes for Windows updates being applied with no notice, and many times just because.
If you really want to upgrade your computer to Windows 10, here is the recommended path:
- Backup your entire hard drive – sometimes called “imaging” or making a bootable copy
- Backup your data and settings separately.
- Make sure you have installation media/files for all your critical applications, including activation keys, codes, proof of purchase, etc.
- Let Microsoft upgrade your computer to Windows 10, and then activate your copy online when the upgrade is complete.
- Create Windows 10 installation media (either DVD or bootable thumb drive)
- WIPE THE DISK
- Reinstal Windows 10 from scratch
- Re-activate your install
- Restore your data and apps to your brand new Windows 10 computer.
- Have a much better day than your peers who stopped at step 4.
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net