Microsoft has now spent months testing Windows 10 publicly in what is said to be its biggest public test yet.
The company has received massive amounts of feedback from users, feedback it should have sought and listened to before launching Windows 8, as Microsoft might have actually delivered Windows 10 years sooner had it done so.
But the past is the past, and as with spilled milk, is not worth crying over. All that matters now is the future.
The thing is, will your future see you installing Windows 10 from 29 July onwards, and if so, why?
By all means, you can accept Microsoft’s offer to download the full version of Windows 10. It’s a 3GB download, and you’ll be able to choose when you want to install it. You’ll have a year in which to do so after 29 July, so there’s no rush.
You may also wish to wait until 29 July actually arrives and you know you're connected to a Wi-Fi network that is attached to a wired ADSL, cable or NBN network. You probably don't want the 3GB download deciding to start downloading while you're connected to your phone's hotspot. Hopefully Microsoft will alert users to WHEN the Windows 10 download actually starts downloading - I guess we'll have to wait and see on that one.
Details on how to reserve your free copy are here but in short, you may already have seen an offer in your task bar near the bottom right hand corner of the screen. The link above explains it all if you haven’t already figured it out.
And let me make it clear that I have personally rushed to install Windows 10 beta versions on various Windows PCs that I have. I even did so on my primary machine, which is a Mac, but as a virtual machine in Parallels - not as my primary computing environemnt.
That said, I DID use Windows Vista and Windows 7 betas as my primary computing environments, and there were issues which would have annoyed everyday users, but this is why it's definitely not recommended.
Windows 10 itself seems to be a lot buggier in its beta forms that earlier versions of Windows, which is why now, in the final couple of months lead-up to the official 29 July Windows 10 release date, Microsoft is polishing and bug fixing mightily, so that its final release is as smooth and bug-free as possible.
Even so, even with all this preparation by Microsoft, the whole point of this article is to NOT rush into installing the update when it becomes available on 29 July 2015 (which will be 30 July 2015 for Australians, New Zealanders and others in the same or similar time zones).
Yes, Microsoft wants you to rush, full speed ahead Warp Factor 9.9 captain my captain, but why?
History has shown time and again that brand new, fresh, ‘.0’ versions of anything have bugs, have problems, have issues and cause conundrums for at least some users until the first ‘.01’ update, and then get a lot better when the first ‘.1’ update rolls around.
Microsoft has said it will be regularly delivering updates to Windows 10, so if you do upgrade early and experience issues, they should be hopefully quickly solved by coming updates.
But as they say, if it ain’t broke, why rush to fix it?
Better to learn from the experiences of others first. Let others who simply cannot wait be the beta testers of the brand new version, even though that new version no longer has ‘official’ beta status.
See what compatibility problems others experience, what drivers play up, what hardware has hiccups, what software has seizures, which updates cause umbrage and what boo boos this new non-beta upgrade brings to the table.
Yes, you’ll be missing out for a few weeks or even months on using Cortana. You’ll be missing out on virtual desktops. You’ll be missing out on the new start menu. You’ll be missing out on the promised faster performance.
You’ll be missing out on a lot of things. But you’ll also be missing out on a lot of angst, should there prove to be any, that other impatient upgraders suddenly find themselves going through.
This advice naturally pertains to all upgrades, be they from Microsoft, Apple, Google or anyone else.
As stated before, history has shown brand new versions of anything have problems. Isn’t it better to wait - even if it’s as little as a few days or a couple of weeks, if not preferably longer, just to see how the new software settles?
And that leads us to backups. Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 have the free, built-in ability to let you create system image backups. This is a complete backup of your entire hard drive with all of the software and settings as is.
If you restore a system image backup, you’ll be restoring it to exactly as the computer is at the time you made the system image backup. It’s an excellent way to backup because all your software is installed the way you like it, all your data is there, your emails and everything else.
Of course, you should make backups of your files separately, too, both in online/cloud services as well as offline using backup hard drives, if not tapes for businesses.
But upgrading without a backup is both brave and foolish. Yes, it takes time to make backups, but given they are a safety net, wouldn’t you prefer to have one in case something goes wrong?
Multiple backups mean multiple safety nets. You can also use the excellent and paid Acronis software to make image based backups too, as well as online and offline backups, and there’s other backup software besides, so you have no shortage of free and paid backup options at your disposal to ensure your data is safe.
So - by all means, reserve your free Windows 10 upgrade copy today. But before you install, no only should you make at least one if not SEVERAL backups, even choosing to TEST the restoration capability of your backups to a fresh hard drive in the same computer if you’re really paranoid…
But you should also wait. Wait to see what problems arise. Wait to see what happens over the first few weeks of Windows 10 upgrade availability. Wait to see what reports people have concerning the software you use to run your business and/or your personal life.
Choose to upgrade less important computer systems first if you just can’t wait before upgrading your primary machine.
This is Microsoft’s most ambitious Windows upgrade yet, and with such ambitious programs there are bound to be some unforeseen issues, some serious screw-ups, some ambitious ambiguities that may take a little while to be resolved.
Hasten slowly and you will be the Windows winner, rather than hastening quickly and starting through a broken Windows.
Friends, Windows-users and planetary citizens, I come not to bury Windows 10 but to praise it, but only after seeing whether Windows 10 has buried and burnt any early adopters first.
You have been warned! Be Windows 10 wary and you will win the Windows 10 war by extending the Windows 10 wait just that little bit longer.