Microsoft’s Windows 10 offer was one of the most unprecedented offers Microsoft made in the past few years. Typically, Microsoft would offer Windows updates to users via servicing packs and patch updates for free for the lifetime of the OS, then give consumers the opportunity to pay for updates to the new OS. Of course, most consumers typically stuck to the old version of the OS with updates only happening when people got new PCs/Tablets when their old one broke.
With Microsoft’s Windows 10 update, all that’s changed. Now the new update is being offered for free – not “free” – but free to users on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 devices. Over 350 million have already upgraded to Windows 10 and use it daily, so Microsoft’s off to a good start. With the free upgrade period coming to a close, some users of Microsoft’s older OS may be unsure of what to do. Whether to update now, or hang on to their old tried and true OS.
Here are a few reasons why you probably should ride the Windows 10 gravy train while it’s available.
Access to new Universal apps
Typically people who are against upgrading to Windows 10 often cite this as a reason not to update. Some believe that “apps” are useless and should be confined to the realm of the smartphone or tablet. After all, the browser can do everything for you, with little or no fuss. That may be true to some extent, but Universal Windows apps offer value for users who choose to use them. I watch my YouTube Videos ad free with MyTube and TubeCast. I enjoy reading articles on the train offline with Poki – a pocket client. I listen to music with Groove Music and I write my articles in Flatnotes before pasting them into WordPress. Apps aren’t just useless toys, they can be tools to help you get through your day with as little fuss as possible.
Integration with your mobile device of choice
Microsoft’s Windows 8.1 integrated heavily with Windows Phone , sharing tabs in internet explorer, apps in the app store, theme colours, and more. In Windows 10, not only is Microsoft deepening the integration, but they are also adding in support for more phones on other operating systems. Take an iPhone for example, if you add Cortana, OneDrive, Groove Music and the office apps to it, you can share data between your devices quickly and easily. An Android phone can be even more easily integrated, allowing you to share text messages and notifications through the cloud using Cortana. If you don’t particularly care which phone you use, a Windows phone offers near the same functionality as a Windows 10 PC would provide you in the new universal environment. In essence, you get a great amount of compatibility between your phone and your PC that no other OS offers.
Windows 10 comes with the promise of more free updates from Microsoft as long as your device can handle it. Microsoft defines Windows 10 as an OS that is never really “finished” in terms of features and stability fixes. For example, Windows 10 launched in July and received a huge update in November 2015 (The November Update), it is due another update in July (The Anniversary Update) and will most likely end up with a cycle of 2 major updates a year. That’s two updates that add more features to your computer for free. If you update to Windows 10 today, you don’t have to pay for any other Windows updates – if you don’t, you do.
Microsoft’s Cortana is an experience that debuted on Windows Phone 8.1 devices about 2 years ago. Shortly after that, the firm began work on migrating the Cortana experience to Windows 10 PCs and other devices. Cortana provides on Windows 10 a well-rounded experience, allowing you to type or speak commands into it through the search box experience. As someone who predominately uses Cortana by typing, it is very much like a command line interface for those who don’t like using the command line. The best thing about Cortana is that it remains synced between all your devices and actively works to tie your devices together allowing you to send text messages via Cortana, make cross-device reminders or even sync your notifications.
Slicker, tighter UI
Let’s face it, Windows 7 looks dated and Windows 8.1 has a very divisive user interface. With Windows 10 for PCs, Microsoft draws inspiration from their much-lauded (design wise) mobile OS. There’s a new action centre which handles all your notifications, a unification of the Windows 10 universal app with “classic” Windows apps via use of “windows” and a more standardised design language.
There are more customisation options like the native Windows spotlight service which you have a different lockscreen wallpaper everyday and apps like Dynamic theme having the ability to pull down background images from the service of your choice.
If Windows 10 is slicker, prettier, freer and just better than older versions of Windows, why are people still resisting the update? Now, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for Windows 10, as with any other OS, there are concerns about updating the OS. People may just dislike the changes, Microsoft’s new integrated servicing model may tick power-users the wrong way and Microsoft’s heavy-handed tactics in downloading the Windows 10 update on older PCs may have turned some people off.
Here are some of the most common complaints we’ve seen about Windows 10:
Forced updates bricking things
Windows 10 now makes it harder for users to avoid Windows updates by making it mandatory on the home versions of Windows and allowing you to only delay it on Windows 10 Professional. Now users are up in arms about this, with some raising the reasonable objection that Microsoft’s forced update system could brick their devices. On Windows 10 due to the nature of how the OS is tested this is very unlikely.
Windows updates are tested by not just in private by Microsoft, but publicly by Windows Insiders on a variety of hardware before being rolled out to users, the chances of things being bricked on a public build is so small as to be negligible.
As Windows Insiders tend to make it very clear to Microsoft if their devices become buggy and unusable, most bugs are caught and fixed before the updates are rolled out.
Telemetry and data tracking
Microsoft increased the collection of anonymized telemetry data in Windows 10 for all users. Not only does Windows keep track of words typed on the keyboard to improve personalised word suggestions and more generalised auto-correct improvements, it also logs interactions with Cortana and the start menu among others. This is to improve those features of Windows for the users who use them and not out of a malicious campaign to sell data for ads. It also helps Microsoft collect data on which features are used, what crashes and freezes, and more.
Now, while Microsoft allows you to turn off much of this data, not all of it can be turned off. If you genuinely feel you cannot handle the idea of data collection possibly being misused, then perhaps you may be justified in staying on Windows 8.1.
Things going wrong during updates
There’s not much to say here. While updates generally go as planned, there is almost no way to know if a system will randomly bug out during an update – after which telemetry data allows Microsoft to catch and fix the issue in the next flight.
Worsened tablet experience
Overall, Windows 10 has a better tablet experience than Windows 8.1, While the navigation is not as fluid as it was in Windows 8.1, Windows 10’s new tablet mode truly makes it easier to use. Not only are hidden navigation buttons now more easily exposed, but you can also run Windows 10 Classic apps in tablet mode without having to switch into the desktop environment. There are also new and improved apps for Windows 10 like Twitter, Vine, NextGen Reader! and MyTube amongst others.
Windows 10’s app store is new and underused by general Windows users. Not the type to come online and complain that Microsoft is treating them like idiots, but those who are actually clueless as far as computer usage goes. Microsoft may recommend apps in the start menu to users who may click on this apps and download them – or ignore them entirely. If you don’t like the start menu “ads”, it is easy to disable those via the settings app in the start menu options pane.
For the lock screen, Microsoft also offers “tips” and “suggestions” which tell users about new features in Windows 10. While some users get disproportionately upset at this , this too is also easy to disable in the settings menu under the lock screen pane.
That’s a lot of things to take into consideration here, and if you’ve held out this long you may be unsure of whether you should update or not. Personally, I have been using Windows 10 on my main computer ever since before it launched. I have experienced only minor performance issues since the November update – and feel the Windows 10 experience is much improved over the 8.1 experience.
If you’re still unsure holding onto Windows 8.1 or 7, be aware that you can give Windows 10 a try to revert back within 30 days should you choose to do so.
Have you upgraded to Windows 10? Let us know how it went in the comments below.