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Tuesday, 17 May 2016 08:58

Windows 10 whether you want it or not Featured


Microsoft appears to have adopted ‘catch 22’ type tactics (circumstance from which there is no escape because of mutually conflicting or dependent conditions). Windows 10 will borg-like assimilate your PC – resistance is futile.

Microsoft’s free upgrade offer expires 29 July and reports seem to indicate that it is getting desperate to assimilate every last Windows 7 and 8.x PC – well consumer-owned ones anyway.

Widespread reports say that from 12 May the ‘optional upgrade’ has now been moved to ‘Recommended’ – the latter means that the 3GB download trickles down to your eligible Windows 7 or 8.x PC as an update and will self-install unless you take action.

The catch 22 seems to be that there is no option to cancel the installation – clicking on the RED X or accepting the upgrade have the same results. In other words, this becomes an opt-out action instead of an opt-in one. This is a breach of trust and an abuse of valuable download data limits.

iTWire columnist David Heath has reported that a New Zealand man had Microsoft refund the data download costs (about NZ$15) for an unwanted Windows 10 install. I predict more cases like this.

Burying it in recommended updates is at odds with users having the right to easily chose whether they want the update or not.

Why upgrade?

Please understand that this is an opinion piece, and I am torn because I have upgraded every PC for family and friends to Windows 10 – and all are very happy with the results. Slow PCs, as opined by iTWire's open source expert and colleague Sam Varghese have not been evident at all. To the contrary Windows 10 boot times (on newer PCs) have been reduced to mere seconds and overall performance improved dramatically even with just 2MB RAM. My opinion is that a BIOS update and a clean Windows and programs install is best if you experience 'treacle like' speeds.

My opinion is there is no harm in updating as it reduces operating system version fragmentation and takes you to a new, more secure Windows with ongoing updates and support – allegedly the ‘last version’ of Windows you will ever need. It offers both a desktop mode like Windows 7 and a Touch mode like Windows 8.1.

In my experience with more than 50 upgrades, only two have failed due to pre-existing hardware/driver/corruption issues with those PCs. A clean install of Windows 7 fixed all the issues, and the upgrade then went smoothly.

I have one gripe that it removes the rather excellent Windows Media Centre software and the replacements like Media Portal, and Next PVR are not as polished, but they do work.

Once you have upgraded your PC ‘signature’ is registered with Microsoft and if you wish you can roll-back to Windows 7 easily – there is a single button to do this – so this PC is licenced for Windows 10 and can be reinstalled anytime in the future.

My call – just do it!

Why not upgrade?

If you have an older version than Windows 7 you cannot upgrade for free. In any case, earlier hardware may not be compatible, and there may be driver and BIOS issues – yes I am referring to the 10.63% of XP users still out there! It is a fairly safe bet that if you can install Windows 7 first and it works then, Windows 10 will be fine.

If you are a corporate user with a Windows 7 standard operating environment (SOE), then it is best to stick to that until the existing hardware reaches its use-by date. I suspect a very large portion of the 47.82% left running Windows 7 are in this category. Reports positively indicate that mixed Windows 10 and Windows 7/8.x environments are fine so you can buy new PCs and not downgrade unless this causes SOE issues for you.

Some people simply don’t want the free upgrade from Windows 7, and that is fine. It is their right to continue to use an orphaned product. iTWire has previously reported on the free GWX control panel that makes turning off the update nag screen and automatic downloader a no brainer. Microsoft have also provided full details of how to turn the upgrade off here.

Does Microsoft have an ulterior motive?

On the positive side, having your PC with the latest operating system and patches makes it more reliable and secure. Direct updates make sense.

On the negative side, Windows 10 has a lot more covert monitoring of PC search history, web usage, Windows Store usage, details of what applications you use, voice recordings, emails, geographic information and just about anything else that is on your PC. This information is gathered in part for improving Windows-based services, but it is also used for market research and advertising purposes. You can turn most if not all of this off in the Settings Panel. This must open up new revenue streams for Microsoft.

And on the paranoid side, we don’t know what will happen in the future with licencing of Windows. At present, you buy a perpetual licence to use it on one specific PC. What happens down the track if they introduce a subscription model or paid support and updates? But being less paranoid Apple could just as easily do that with OS X and iOS so it is likely that each will keep the other honest.

But this rather heavy-handed approach of ‘forcing’ Windows 10 on existing users by 29 July is uncharacteristic especially under the new, more sensitive, caring Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella.


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Ray Shaw

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Ray Shaw [email protected]  has a passion for IT ever since building his first computer in 1980. He is a qualified journalist, hosted a consumer IT based radio program on ABC radio for 10 years, has developed world leading software for the events industry and is smart enough to no longer own a retail computer store!



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