Why did Microsoft skip to Windows 10? Because 7, 8, 9, and it left a bad taste in their mouths! Jokes aside, if you’re thinking of making the leap into Windows 10, then this is the article for you. Let’s get started!
For myself, the upgrade process was painless. I googled the Windows 10 installation procedure and used the Media Creation tool. Installing from a bootable USB worked like a charm, and upgrading from Windows 7 Home with half-baked updates completed without a hitch. I had great driver support as well. Except for my graphics card, Windows 10 found everything.
Also, we can all sigh in relief as the future is familiar, blue, sleek, and speedy. Best of all… it has a Start Menu. In the Windows 10 menu, gone are the shortcuts and functions no one used. Administrative functions are accessible by right-clicking on the Start Button itself. And, tiles can be unpinned, resized, or be completely wiped clean off the menu. The result is something that is organized, appealing, and relatively intuitive as a Windows user.
Yay! Good news thus far!
The Bad – Fatty Installs and Your New Friend “Cortana”
When it comes to the outright “bad”, there really isn’t all that much at a glance. The interface and user experience are very polished. The OS is responsive and stable. There wasn’t anything I could really do to upset the system, either. I tried running simultaneous installations, deleting things I’m not supposed to, whatever. It didn’t break.
But, there are some issues. The upgrade process will chew out an extra 30GB of space on top of the regular Windows 7/8 installation. And here’s the kicker: if you want to have a licensed version of Windows 10, you HAVE to upgrade. Currently, as far as I know, there are no pure Windows 10 licenses available. So, invariably, for most of us, Windows 10 will eat 60-70GB in total. If you own a 120GB SSD, you might want to consider upgrading.
And, then there’s Cortana, a voice activated lady friend powered by Outlook and Bing. Simply said, I don’t like her. First of all, her mundane features exist on practically every cell phone in North America. Second, speaking to my computer is awkward, robotic, and creepy. And third, if she misunderstands you or can’t contextualize your question, Bing spits out a verbatim search. So, really, if there’s anything that is unpolished in Windows 10, it’s Cortana…
See, kids, this is what useless gimmick looks like!
The Ugly! And I mean REALLY ugly!
With every major release, there’s always SOMETHING Microsoft’s done to screw it up! This time, the name of the game is cloud services, metadata, and arguably surveillance. If you’re using Windows 10, visit your Control Panel. There are few things us power users will want to do.
Welcome to your new best friends!
If you’re using a laptop or tablet, disable Wi-Fi Sense. This huge security fail automatically connects your computer to open networks. Plus, it saves and shares that network information between your cloud contacts and Facebook friends. In essence, it’s like having a GPS-tracking chip in your arm, but instead your tracked by your device with each open Wi-Fi network it has signed into automatically without your knowledge or consent! And, to boot, it’s all saved on a Microsoft and/or Facebook server!
Under Privacy, you’ll find thirteen categories of options related to software-hardware rights and metadata collections, or “13 ways Microsoft is watching you!” I personally disabled nearly everything. Pay special attention to items located within these sections: General, Location, Microphone, Camera, and “Getting to know you” under Speech, inking, and typing. Under Background apps, for example, you can disable certain processes like “Get Office” and the Microsoft Store.
Sweet as she is, Cortana is a naughty girl is guilty of collecting metadata on your searches and related activities. You can kill her via her Settings menu, as well as your information residing in Microsoft servers.
Lastly, I would disable automatic updates. Boy, was I EVER surprised when Windows had self-identified itself as an Acer system and proceeded to download Acer software. There’s also a bit of a buried option called “Updates from than one place”. In essence, your PC would look at local network machines to download updates. While it’s a great for rolling out small updates in a home or small office environment, it’s useless if there are no Windows 10 PCs around, and even more so if there’s anything which can compromise the feature’s functionality and security.
Windows 10 is like a siren from tales of old: she sings nice songs and steals souls of good men. Well, our identities and habits in this case, anyway.
Overall, the OS in itself definitely a solid product, but it’s only as good as the privacy it protects. Typically, we don’t want our information to go to hackers and nefarious types. Just as well, if they’re going to use our information, Microsoft should be paying us to use their products.
Test system was a 2009 Acer tower which included these specs: AMD X6 1065T, HD5700 series video card, 8GB of RAM, OCZ 120GB SSD and 1.5T WD Green.
Images courtesy of Wikimedia, Staticworld and Microsoft.
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