Should You Upgrade To Windows 10?

Note – we originally published this Windows 10 feature earlier this month, but it’s now revised and expanded with new information to coincide with today’s release.

Windows 10 [official site] is out today. No, don’t ask about Windows 9. I’ve been running Insider builds of Microsoft’s new, we’re-so-sorry-about-Windows-8 OS for around a month now, which updated to the release version last week, so I reckon I can help you to decide whether you should or shouldn’t upgrade to it. And, indeed, how you can upgrade to it.

Here is the tldr take-home for you: I’m now running Windows 10 as my main and in fact only operating system on both my desktop and my laptop, and I don’t regret it. It’s a little more complicated than that, though. Always is, isn’t it?

A big part of the reason I don’t regret it is that I was running Windows 8.1 on both PCs prior to that, and despite the unconvincing protestations of the deathlessly faithful, Windows 8.1 was a mess. It was two different operating systems mashed together like some monstrous Star Trek teleporter accident, with a bare minimum of evident effort to meaningfully integrate the desktop and touch facets. Microsoft wanted to drag us into a touch-focused future whether we wanted to or not, because that’s where they (at the time) believed PCs were universally headed.

The problem was not that longstanding aspects of desktop Windows usage had been abandoned, or that touch elements were in there, but that they did so even on an entirely mouse-driven system. Learning something new and something counter-intuitive are not one and the same. You’d either find ways to work around this stuff or install third-party hardware, but for all bar a few willing Kool-Aid fans, it felt like a clunky compromise. It wasn’t that things had been changed, but that the changes were inefficient. What we want from an OS is efficiency as we task-switch and organise, not something that jumps up and shouts ‘look at me, haha all these bold colours and animated squares, what fun!’ every time you go looking for an application or setting.

‘Modern’ Apps still have a faintly childish look to them, aesthetically seeming teleported in from a different operating system entirely, but now they behave a little more like traditional applications, and you get a more traditional Start menu with which to access them or anything else. Microsoft hasn’t backed down on its belief that we want animated widgets all over the place, and my preferring to use assorted Google things or simply my phone to keep tabs on calendars and weather and whatnot means the large chunk of screen space on the right of the Start menu is essentially redundant, but each to their own. If you want to have a Start screen as Windows 8, that option’s still there (and is the default in the Tablet mode I’ll mention shortly), but again, for me, it just means acres of screen estate squandered on Live Tile widgets I simply don’t use, when all I really want is a quick list of applications. Still, it’s a big stride towards an OS which once again lets me use how I want to use it, rather than how one guy somewhere one day decided I should use it.

The simple fact of all the touchy and full-screen app stuff being dialled down and made optional if one so wished would probably have been enough to make Windows 10 feel like a relief, and a tidier environment. What, for me, makes it a success rather than simply a reverting-to-type recovery is how a touch ethos and a desktop have been truly integrated this time, although most of that simply won’t be apparent on a desktop or traditional laptop. If you don’t have or currently intend to buy any manner of hybrid laptop/tablet PC (or perhaps one of those faintly misjudged touchscreen all-in-one desktops) you can skip this best and resume reading where it says GAMES in big black letters.

I’ve got a Surface Pro 3. It’s a mostly lovely thing, bar its lousy cooling and attendant speed-throttling when it gets too hot, which is almost always. But whether I had it in tablet mode or laptop mode (by attaching the keyboard-adorned Type Cover), Windows 8.1 was Windows 8.1, which meant that ‘Modern’ apps such as Windows’ own Calendar, Mail and Calculator functions or stuff from the Store such as eBay and Twitter both looked and behaved entirely differently to traditional applications. What worked for touch didn’t work well with a mouse, what worked with a mouse didn’t work well with touch, and because I use very few of the Modern apps, half my time with the Surface in Tablet mode was spent trying and often failing to activate the Maximise button.

What Windows 10 does is have discrete Touch and Desktop modes; switching to the latter means it’s a little more forgiving/predictive about where you touch, and also that traditional applications behave, to some degree, like Modern or other Tablet-orientated applications. Everything is maximised and/or made fullscreen, whether it’s a browser window, your FTP program or Task Manager, so task-switching means whatever you flip taking up the whole screen rather than being just one window amongst many, which you’d then need to awkwardly drag around and resize. It works like a tablet application even if it’s not a tablet application, in other words, but if you don’t like that you can always switch back to Desktop mode even on a touch PC.

On the Surface Pro 3 specifically, there’s also an option to have it automatically switch between desktop and touch modes when you remove the cover (or fold it behind the device), which is about the closest Windows has ever come to actual magic. It just works. It’s wonderful, it works even with the most archaic of applications, and it feels like the future of laptops – this one device which is a PC when I want it to be a PC and a tablet when I want it to be a tablet, and vitally I don’t have to do any faffing to make that happen. Clearly the SP3 is not a cheap device (I got super-lucky on eBay), but this was, for me, the final nail in the coffin of ‘needing’ both a laptop and tablet. One device is the future, and Windows 10 makes that a whole lot more plausible.

OK, games.

GAMES

(And then we’ll look at some of the inevitable silly-billy stuff too.)

253 Comments

  1. Oakreef says:

    “no-one’s found any reason beyond ‘marketing, durr’ for the absence of Windows 9”

    link to searchcode.com

    • Tinus says:

      This!

      Apparently there’s just lots of software that does version checks with “Hey, if the version ID starts with windows 9- it’s this old 1998-era version”. This software would completely break if the new windows started identifying as windows 9.

      That doesn’t rule out marketing having a hand in it, but it’s convincing enough for me.

      • dsch says:

        Thanks for the explanation for those of us trying to figure out what that link was trying to say.

      • death_au says:

        I’m pretty sure that’s been established as crap, considering you’d really be checking for NT version 6 point whatever. It sounds like it makes sense, but I highly doubt anyone actually ever did that.

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          Rublore says:

          Never underestimate the awfulness of some programmers.

        • Borodin says:

          The link above shows one of the modules in IntelliJ IDEA, which is one of the very best Java development environments around. The critical line is


          isWindows9x = _OS_NAME.startsWith("windows 9")

          which means that this application, for one, will designate any platform whose name starts with ‘windows 9’ as one of the Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows Me collection. And IntelliJ are far from awful programmers

          • gwathdring says:

            You can be a very good programmer and still perform some pretty grievous awfulness. I believe console game programmers sometimes use incredible skill to exploit the consistency of their target hardware and do horrible, horrible things to their code that might do the job better now but might wreck havok on, say, a PC port.

            Good programming is a complex concept. It doesn’t always boil down to executing something difficult that produces the desired result any more than mastery of a language boils down to using fancy words correctly. Clarity, portability and forsight are really important in programming, too.

          • reticulate says:

            Windows doesn’t internally report its version number as “Windows 95” or “Windows Me”, it reports an actual version and build number.

            Windows 7, for instance, is 6.1.7x at this point.

            I don’t understand why anyone would pull the marketing name of the OS rather than just the version number. It doesn’t even let you differentiate between service packs. That’s just bad practice.

          • Llewyn says:

            And where is _OS_NAME defined? What you’ve quoted there is not, by itself, a critical anything.

          • sirax says:

            I’m actually pretty sure this code doesn’t even work:
            _OS_NAME is defined according to javas System.getProperty(“os.name”), and this returns the os-name case sensitive -> in my case (not a pun, honestly!) “Windows 7”

            However they check the OS Version not case-sensitive (“windows 9”) which should return always a negative no matter what OS they run on.

        • wu wei says:

          For my sins, I once spent time working on application & deployment for a large (10k+ seats) organisation. I can absolutely guarantee that there were checks that looked at version strings for “Windows 9” to imply specific old versions. At that time I predicted this would end up being a problem (there were far better ways of obtaining OS version info) and here we are today.

        • DeepFried says:

          Except windows 9x was not on the NT kernel. So yeah, its entirely feasible checking for a *windows 9* string is a thing.

        • harmlos says:

          You don’t work in software development, do you ?

          I’ve… seen things… you people wouldn’t believe.

      • gwathdring says:

        My research into the matter indictated that this explanation was either complete bullcrap. Best case this was not done enough for Microsoft to bother rebranding an entire operating system externally just to make up for some idiotic coding.

        It is no secret, further, that Microsoft’s internal and external version control are not actually the same … so this explanation seemed incredibly suspect even before I attempted to verify it from a reputable source.

        • Dr_Barnowl says:

          That just sounds like confirmation bias to me…

          .. did you actually read any of the code that link turns up?

          There’s code from…

          * IntelliJ
          * OpenJDK (the official “reference” version of Java)
          * JEdit, very populat text editor
          * A library for handling MS Word documents

          And that’s just the first page of around 10,000 results, in code that’s publicly available. There are almost certainly many many more in private code.

          Programmers are lazy – it’s almost one of the definitions of a good programmer, they’re good at getting the computer to work for them. If they can save time by implementing an OS version check in one line of code like this, they will. I’d be very surprised if there is no code from Microsoft itself that doesn’t repeat this pattern.

          One of Microsoft’s long standing policies is to preserve backward compatibility with older software (particularly business software) as much as they can. They’ll bend over backwards, to the point where they even include a virtual copy of XP in the more expensive versions of Windows. It’s not a giant stretch of the imagination to think that someone said “Well, we can write all sorts of finicky annoying kludges to catch this, or we can change the version string.” ; and the marketing department ran with it.

          • yojimbojango says:

            The particulars history of this sin is less in large java projects (where a lot of it is open source and can be scanned easily) and more in custom corporate office crap. It was horrifically easy to ask for the os name in VB6, CrystalReports, Excel, Access, Salesforce, FoxPro and any other number of solutions that were sold as an alternative to paying an actual developer. It was the defacto way a google search would tell you to do it back when I had to clean those messes up 10 years ago.

            There are tons and tons of of that crap all over the corporate world where some long fired office assistant cobbled together a script 15 years ago and it’s still running and churning out ‘mission critical’ reports, payroll, billings and the like. I can think of about half a dozen instances off the top of my head but the one that I remember most was a chunk of printing code where it asked for the name of the OS to determine if their crappy activeX control that only worked on 2000/xp was going to print correctly or else they would go off and try to use some older windows apis to get their stuff printed.

          • gwathdring says:

            There are easier ways to account for this sort of thing than changing the external marketing name of Windows; this explanation does not seem sufficient and I can’t find evidence that that is why they changed the branding.

            I can find evidence that lazy programmers did some dumb things, but there are any number of other ways to account for that.

          • kemryl says:

            I think it is just their excuse to use the most convenient fix possible, from a marketing standpoint as well as an engineering one.

            Windows has been full of checks for legacy applications and workarounds for shortsighted coding practices since at least Windows 95, if not 3.x. There were some allowances for accessing old DOS-based programs to avoid scaring off organizations that were already entrenched in DOS. After XP (or maybe 2000?) there were some (unreliable) options provided to get uncooperative pre-NT applications running correctly. Concisely, Microsoft have fixed much harder problems than working around version checks before.

            On the brighter side, it’s not simply due to laziness. We have also to thank condescending marketing shenanigans! Unfortunately, when competitors use higher numbers than you on their products, some less informed people take that to mean that you aren’t keeping up with the state of the art. There are large enough numbers of those people that it does start to affect profits.

            Thank you again RPS, for not scoring your reviews!

        • melnificent says:

          I have written code that would check OS version (9x, NT, XP,2k, Unix), and run the corresponding commands to grab the login details of the current user and log them into the intranet automatically. It worked and was functional considering the number of different OSes we supported.

          I left that job a decade ago, but the code is still lurking within the company and would’ve failed on windows 9.

          Looking back it was terrible coding, but when you are pushing the large end of SME (150+ users, 2 IT staff) shortcuts that work are better than spending time you don’t have to prettify the code and catch every exception.

      • Smoky_the_Bear says:

        Maybe not even just internal workings either. I can see how some people might get confused by older software that says “OS – Win 9x”, like they regularly do and people think it works on the new one.

    • Alegis says:

      MS can brand the next version of Windows however they want (Windows 9 Super 9 Edition Crash your old software) and have System.getProperty(“os.name”).startsWith(“Windows”); return whatever they like (windows not 9).

      Not really convinced this was the reason at all.

      • Borodin says:

        Certainly Microsoft can have getProperty(“os.name”) return any value they want, but startsWith(“Windows”) is a simple string function that can’t be tinkered with

        The problem is that some people have written startsWith(“Windows 9”) to determine that the OS is 95, 98 or Me, so making getProperty(“os.name”) return “Windows 9” would break that. It’s very like the Millenium Bug where any number of applications were written to use only the last two digits of the date, so 2000 would be treated as 1900

        Whether this is the full reason for the skip in numbers I really don’t know, but it is certainly plausible. I can well imagine that it was a bit of a happy accident and Marketing relished the idea, but I can also believe that the change was primarily pragmatic

        • gwathdring says:

          The Millenium bug wasn’t anything near what it was cracked up to be, so I’m not sure that’s the best touchstone.

          • ironhorse says:

            Uhh.. that’s entirely dependent on the field and system you are referring to.
            I know a certain popular theme park that when they tested rolling their systems to y2k as a test, they lost all the power in the park.. everything.. the front gates locked. Mass panic and chaos would’ve ensued and the systems in place throughout were *relics* so it was quite the effort in fixing.

            That’s a singular example.
            Personally I think the hype for the event is what motivated fixes and prevented a lot of the issues that we would have otherwise have seen.

          • It's not me it's you says:

            Lots of programmers pulled lots of overtime to make that so.

          • DeepFried says:

            The millennium bug was very real, however in 95% of cases and 99% of important cases it was fixed before 2000, so to the general public it seemed like nothing happened… what did actually happen was thousands of programmers spent many hours fixing and testing old software in advance of the event.

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            Tam-Lin says:

            Don’t work with mainframes, do you? I’ll point you here: link to nytimes.com. I work for IBM, and it was taken very, very seriously. To the point where there were groups of people around the country stationed in hotel rooms, ready to be flown somewhere if necessary to help fix some problem that popped up. The only reason lots of really bad things didn’t happen was because a lot of people did a lot of work, really, really well.

            It’s sort of like the government, or an operating system. The only time people notice how well everything normally works is when things go wrong, and then they ignore the vast majority of the times that civilization wasn’t plunging into chaos.

          • gwathdring says:

            I know it caused some problems and that a lot of work happened behind the scenes, but in the US at least our crisis response has a history of not being very good. That we were able to fix it with some foresight and hard work and make the visible problems minimal speaks not only to a tremendous amount of commendable work but also to the problem being far from cataclysmic.

            It’s also not the only date-related bug that needed some fast upkeep to avoid trouble but it was the one that spawned end-of-the-world style parties, widespread panic and merchandising.

            My point isn’t that it was fake. My point is that it was overblown; perhaps you don’t remember being not-behind-the-scenes and just how ridiculous people who had no idea what they were talking about got about Y2K and you just heard reasonable concerns and logical explanations about why this piece of software needed to be fixed quickly or why someone needed to be on hand in case of this or that specific error that could readily be expected. Y2K doesn’t have to be nonsense or unimportant to have been ridiculously overblown.

          • Asurmen says:

            Sooo you’re going to ignore evidence, as just presented to you, of how bad it was because it doesn’t suit your world view?

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          Don Reba says:

          Certainly Microsoft can have getProperty(“os.name”) return any value they want

          Not even that, since they don’t control Java’s standard libraries.

        • Llewyn says:

          Certainly Microsoft can have getProperty(“os.name”) return any value they want, but startsWith(“Windows”) is a simple string function that can’t be tinkered with

          The behaviour of startsWith(“Windows”) is not the relevant part here. The relevant part is what getProperty(“os.name”) returns – if this returns a string with starts with “Windows” then your problem exists, otherwise it doesn’t.

        • Oakreef says:

          “Certainly Microsoft can have getProperty(“os.name”) return any value they want”

          No they can’t because that call is (in the Intellij IDEA code) part of the java standard library that’s controlled by Oracle not Microsoft.

          • kemryl says:

            Doesn’t this all make it sort of obvious to just set the string that the call is returning to a fake value so that it avoids indicating a pre-2000 version, keep that string hidden in the API solely to solve the issue, and create a new string with the correct OS name to use for the original, sane purpose of just being a user-facing label for the OS? As others here have indicated, querying that string is not the proper way to determine the OS version for compatibility purposes.

            Every new version of Windows comes with significant changes to its various APIs that require research on the part of the developer to account for. What makes that sort of minor change any more obtrusive than the large number of function and type name changes that came along with DirectX 10 that essentially provided zero benefit but plenty of developer confusion, or the structural reworking of Vista’s Universal Audio Architecture that killed existing sound features and broke legacy applications and drivers for other vague reasons, DirectInput to Xinput, etc?

            There must be more convoluted ways of ensuring legacy application support while still naming it Windows 9, if that solution doesn’t suffice, but they can’t be any more convoluted than Microsoft’s usual procedure of destroying the few parts of its OS that don’t need immediate change that badly, and reconstructing them with equivalent or lesser functionality. Note the entire design and fundamental concepts of Windows Vista, 8, and ME. It really has to be simple laziness with a nudge of support from the marketing team.

          • joa says:

            Indeed, the os.name property string is determined by the Java standard library and not Windows direct. You can see logic it use to determine it around line 445 here:

            link to hg.openjdk.java.net

            If they really are worried about the starts-with-windows-9 checks, then they can make this return “Windows Nine” spelled in letters or such instead, although this makes the names incosistent. Probably they just liked the big round number of “10” instead of “9”.

    • ffordesoon says:

      mommy why are the people talking in moon language

      • Sarfrin says:

        I very rarely comment just to say this, but ffordesoon’s comment gave me a hearty laugh this morning, so thank you. :D

        • HKEY_LOVECRAFT says:

          Even though I was able to follow most everything I, too, was rendered a chuckling mass of chuckles by ffordesoon’s comment. Well played, sir/madam!

          • yoggesothothe says:

            I had to log in just to say HKEY_LOVECRAFT is possibly the best username I’ve ever come across. Singularly amazing.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Wow, thanks, had heard about this but never seen it myself.

      There was also the small problem of it sounding like “Windows Nien”.

      • Papageno says:

        If you meant to write the German equivalent of “no” there, it’s spelled “nein.” What you wrote there would be pronounced “neen.”

    • kaizer_roll says:

      Hey, I don’t post on RPS much, and no one has to believe me, but as a Microsoft employee working on Windows 10, I can tell you that this is widely accepted as the reasoning internally, and it is surprising and strange that its turned into its own little conspiracy theory. Think about it and the choice makes a lot of sense, really. We don’t own anyone else’s code so we can’t force them to change it! From a developers point of view it was a simple choice, and remember, an OS is more or less built by developers. Believe me, I wasn’t the one to rename it 10, but theres was a valid reason to not call it Windows 9 which, everyone agrees, would have otherwise been the obvious choice.

    • Ejia says:

      I always thought Windows 8.1 was Windows 9, except someone used a . instead of a + and decided it was fine as is.

    • JohnnyBeGoodNot says:

      This is what I want to know. Has anybody else not been able to complete the installation of Windows 10. I really need some help here because i’ve tried it 4 times and every time it stops at 32% finished and 6% finished on installing the new features and tools. Its very strange and I don’t understand what’s going on. If anyone has an answer or can direct me to an answer please help.

      I would also like to know if Windows 10 will not allow me to play certain games or use certain programs because then i’m not even going to touch that hell-spawn.

    • Arioch13 says:

      Very interesting. Would like some confirmation of what is the most important issue for me. I work in an environment where client confidentiality is not just a promise but a legal requirement. My IT people are telling me we cant upgrade because they have concerns that we will fail security audits with one or two corporate clients if we are not very careful. We need to know what data MS is collecting even where we exercise sensible precautions within the OS itself. There is a lot of hyperbole about the subject and people claiming that the OS is collecting a huge range of data on individuals even when the privacy settings are fully enabled. In some countries this would even break local data privacy laws if we get this wrong and our employees are canny enough to know this. This is the elephant in the room. Being free is no good to me in my personal or business life if I have to sell my privacy or that of my clients even without prosecution. Lets have a full disclosure. What information is Windows 10 sending back to MS even with privacy enabled and bing, cloud drive and toys like cortana disabled.

  2. subedii says:

    I’m going to hold fire a bit until the driver issues are sorted out (I’ve heard Creative still hasn’t got compatible drivers. Again).

    That said, I have a question. I remember reading that as part of the technical preview, you allow MS to collect any and all data about your usage, including one heck of a lot personal information.

    I can sort of understand the data collation as part of a technical preview. The question I have is: Is this still going to be the case with the actual release? Does this part of the agreement change?

    • subedii says:

      Some quick googling gave me this:

      link to windows10update.com

      tl;dr : They still seem to collect a lot of stuff about you. I’m not entirely clear on how much of this stuff you can simply turn off (hopefully most or all of it). They’re also a bit vague on saying things like that they’ll delete information about you “after a short period of time” but not really defining what that means.

      I think I’m going to hold back a little until things are more clear here.

      • matnym says:

        “Examples of data we may collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; location, browsing, search and file history…”

        Browsing? I guess I’ll wait then <_<

        • nickclarkson says:

          Browsing history?!? Sh*t! F*ck! Sh*tf*ck!

        • ChiefOfBeef says:

          What do they expect to learn from 1600 hours of naked asian midget tickling??

          • phelix says:

            Determine what advertisements to show to you, and to anyone else who is unfortunate enough to use the computer and its slightly sticky keyboard

        • Mr Coot says:

          Yes, and that right there is enough for me to tell Microsoft to ‘Get rooted’. It’s a free upgrade… whenever anything is free, that means *you* are the product. I swore Win 8 was the last MS OS I would buy and will be converting to SteamOS for future gaming. Make it happen, Gabe. Was considering doing the free upgrade, but knowing they will be helping themselves to my personal data and browsing habits is a deal breaker. I am not anyone’s commodity, and certainly not the commodity of a company that sold me the shitty unusable bloatware fiasco of Win 8.

          • Lanfranc says:

            What makes you think Gabe won’t treat you as a commodity?

          • Baines says:

            Consumers have been a commodity for Gabe and Valve for a while.

            Valve has long been more interested in protecting itself and servicing the publishers that sell their games through Steam than servicing the people that buy games through Steam.

          • kemryl says:

            If anything, Valve are one of the earlier and nosier examples of collecting user data in the video-grames industry. Most developers these days do some sort of usage tracking, but most don’t have a multi-billion-dollar software sales platform used 24/7 by millions worldwide to leverage towards that goal.

          • SomeDuder says:

            I don’t want to tell you to grow up, but grow the fuck up. This is how it works now. You use any search engine? A Google, Yahoo and MS will know what you are looking for and use it to profile your account. You use Gmail, Hotmail (Or Live? Or is it Outlook now? I can’t keep up with these fuckers) or any other free mail alternative? Then dito. And any other free service. 15 Years ago the infrastructure to constantly monitor and gather data from all customers everywhere all the the time simply didn’t exist, but now that every civilized country offers wireless, cell and landconnections that limiter is gone.

            But what are you really worried about? Do you just not want a company to collect data on you? In that case you are fighting a hopeless battle. And why fight it? You aren’t special and, unless your search keywords include “child” and “porn”, you have nothing to worry about.

          • Devan says:

            @SomeDuder

            Privacy is valuable for its own sake. Now that the collection and use of personal information is so prevalent yet happens behind the scenes, most people have no idea how much is known about their private lives.

            Knowledge is power. Do you want others to have that power at your expense? It may be difficult to think of likely ways that your personal information would be used against you in a clear and direct way, but that doesn’t mean there will never be a situation where it is. There are also plenty of unclear or indirect ways that personal information can be used which result in a less-favourable outcome for that person. Even advertising, which is the most obvious use of the information, can be to your detriment. If even once it convinces you to make a purchase which ends up being at a higher price or of inferior quality than what you would have purchased otherwise, then it makes a difference.

            Aside from considerations on an individual level, it is important to think about how the stance that we take on personal-data collection now will affect its use in the future. Personal electronics are the perfect spies, especially when the data is collected in the name of convenience and service. I believe that whatever technology is capable of, whether it’s morally acceptable or not, someone will try to do it. It is still unknown just how much control can be exerted on a population by entities that have every detail of information about them and have daily or even hourly opportunities to influence their behaviour.

            Many corporations want to take us in that direction (of surveillance and manipulation), and as technology is becoming more and more capable of it, the only checks that can keep us from that future are privacy laws and our own vigilance.

            You seem to have decided that guarding your personal information isn’t worth the effort because it seems like too big a task without any tangible payoff and after all the information isn’t going to land you in jail. Those reasons are probably right, but I hope you’ll think about the conclusion because it’s attitudes as a society that will affect how the world looks in the decades to come.

      • draglikepull says:

        Wow, thanks for linking this. I’m definitely going to avoid installing Windows 10 at this point. Some of that stuff sounds like a privacy nightmare. And regardless of whether you can turn it off (and it seems like a lot of stuff can be manually de-activated), the fact that the OS is designed to spy on you and provide a unique identifier to advertisers is really troubling.

        • kemryl says:

          I feel like it is becoming important to note that it’s not just advertisers out for your data now. USA, the UK, Canada, Australia, China, and plenty more are all conducting much more invasive dragnet surveillance on at least the citizens of other countries and also their own to some degree, while forcing especially the larger software companies like Microsoft to assist them with their efforts.
          Apple and Microsoft either agreed or were forced to tell lies to their customers and run disinformation campaigns to suggest that they were not helping or even work to prevent such activities, but there are apparently backdoors and hidden features in encryption programs and other products from both companies created solely for governments to bypass attempts at securing privacy.

          To me, advertisers are the least concerning at present. Anyone who doesn’t care about these sorts of things like you and others here do strike me as dangerously nonchalant. Kudos to you and other stubborn folk for giving a damn.

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        Don Reba says:

        None of this sounds very terrible, actually, and all of it can be turned off from a single location — the Privacy Settings panel.

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          Don Reba says:

          Having just installed the final version, I was happy to see that it lets you configure all of these privacy settings right at installation.

    • Borodin says:

      The core of Windows 10 is very similar to 8.1, and I have found no problem using drivers meant for 8.1

      I did have a problem where Windows 10 didn’t include a driver for my very ordinary Realtek on-board NIC (and without it I couldn’t connect to the internet and download one) but I grabbed a Windows 8.1 driver for it using another PC and all is now fine

  3. GetUpKidAK says:

    “no, no-one’s found any reason beyond ‘marketing, durr’ for the absence of Windows 9.”

    The coverage that explained why was pretty widespread and it was a very valid reason.

    • gwathdring says:

      The reason frequently provided is not something that would require, perforce, an external branding change to account for even if it was wide-spread enough to motivate Microsoft to give a damn about 3rd party software compatibility … and even if it was, further, in contexts that prevented their “compatibility” mode functionality they’ve been using for a while from helping.

      That said, it’s not like it’s a terribly important thing. They decided to externally brand it Windows 10 for either strange internal coding reasons (which need not relate to external branding) or for strange marketing gimmick reasons. They clearly care less about having a consistent and legible external brand legacy than they do about any of that other stuff. Not a big deal and not a surprise if you look at the Xbox lineage.

      • Oakreef says:

        It does affect code written for it though. The code search page I linked above has it’s first result as an IDE called Intellij IDEA that gets the OS name from the Java standard library. Different libraries might have their own way of determining and stating the OS name. Microsoft might mandate the name as “Windows Nine” or “Windows New” or “Windows Awesome” or something, but it wouldn’t stop people writing other frameworks from making the OS version returned “Windows 9”. Calling it “Windows 10” makes it very unlikely that any framework or library will ever return the OS name as “Windows 9” because that would just be really confusing.

        And Microsoft really really cares about backwards compatibility. A very important part of their business model is making sure jurrasic, spaghetti-coded enterprise applications still continue to function for their enterprise customers. Google “Tales of Application Compatibility”.

        • ButteringSundays says:

          Every new OS comes with comparability issues with old software. Do you really believe they’d skip an entire version number to save some software developer updating one line of their code?

          They wanted to call it windows 10 because if marketing. Accept it and move on.

          • Dr_Barnowl says:

            It’s not just “some developer” though. It’s many of them. Including the likes of Sun Microsystems. A lot of (expensive) Java programs explicitly state that they are only warrantied to run with a particular version of Java – Oracle isn’t going to go back and patch every release of Java with this one fix.

            And who says the developer is going to change their code? Many of them aren’t even around any more. Many developers will have precisely zero incentive to support these old programs because they’ll make sales from selling a new version.

            I’ve seen programs in use that were written bespoke by a third party developer, for which there is no source code available, and they’ve even forgotten who wrote it in the first place. No sucker is going to patch that.

            It’s a valid technical reason that they also made some marketing mileage out of.

          • Premium User Badge

            Phasma Felis says:

            You’re acting like “because marketing” is the most natural Occam’s-razor-compliant explanation, and I’m not sure why. Which of these sounds more plausible coming out of Satya Nadella’s mouth:

            1. Shit, we can’t use the number 9 for technical reasons. Tell the marketing guys to spin it into something positive.

            2. Hey guys, we should skip the number 9! It’ll totally boost sales for some reason! All the cool kids are doing it, and my astrologer says 9 is on the way out anyway!

            I realize Microsoft marketing doesn’t get or deserve much respect, but I still gotta say that #1 is a lot more plausible.

  4. ZakG says:

    This is free for what a year? or some undeclared time before they move to a fully subsciption based system (as that is what they want across all their software range).

    After the abortion of Windows 8 i jumped ship to Linux (Mint) and have not looked back, the laptop i type this from is now fairly painlessly duel-booted just in case, but i’ve not needed to boot into windows for the general internet stuff i do on it, playing music/videos etc. Mint is an incredibly smooth transition from windows and after 6 months trouble free laptop usage i’m very happy i made the jump.

    My main desktop is still Windows 7 (and i have a legacy XP system ‘just in case’ (internet isolated off course)) and i’m thinking of just sticking with that and making it also dual-boot with Mint at some time in the future. I only need Windows for some work software (which is on the XP system and not needing changing!) and games, and not being that wowed with AAA graphics heavy titles these last few years see little value in DX12. Graphics do not good games make (alone).

    – signed one very content newish Linux user (so thanks MS for windows 8, you finally gave me the push i needed).

    • subedii says:

      The thing about DX12 though is that it’s meant to speed things up a fair amount (yeah I know, promises promises) due to more efficient handling of multi-core processing.

      Probably the main reason I’d consider making the shift. That said, Mantle’s also meant to do the same thing, so who knows.

      • steves says:

        Mantle is not really a thing any more – the ‘next-gen’ 3D APIs are DX12, Apple’s Metal, and Vulkan (basically the successor to OpenGL, and heavily based on Mantle). Vulkan will be the de facto choice for Android & Linux, probably PS4 too.

        I’d imagine all the major 3D engines will try their best to abstract all this away. And I’m sure it won’t be quite as much of a mess as things are right now.

        Who knows how long it will be before any games that *require* any of these API will take, which means nothing will be taking full advantage for ages yet. Such is life at the cutting edge…

    • Asurmen says:

      No, it’s simply free full stop.

    • mattevansc3 says:

      Why is it that everytime there is a Win10 article someone has to come out spreading the FUD about subscriptions even though its been shown time and time again to be baseless drivel.

      Windows10 is not subscription based.
      The upgrade model is the exact same upgrade model they’ve been using for over a decade.
      Between July 2015 and July 2016 nobody pays the one-off fee.
      From August 2016 if someone wants to upgrade they pay the upgrade fee.

      Its not rocket science.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Because when people say free and Microsoft in the same sentence the only reasonable reaction is to question the fuck out of it.

        • Premium User Badge

          artrexdenthur says:

          Eez very true.
          But in this case, it’s believable that they’re on the level since that’s a classic Microsoft move… Make sure *everybody* has Windows, then the people that aren’t tech-savvy and businesses have a ton of inertia to stay using their products, even when something goes awry.

          • Premium User Badge

            artrexdenthur says:

            Thinking about it a bit more, that makes even more sense in light of how much changed from 7 to 8/8.1. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if some Microsoft focus group found that people were going “Well I had to learn so much when I switched from 7 to 8 that I might as well try out Mac for kicks.” To which Microsoft cunningly replies, “But wait! Free upgrade that’s objectively an improvement!” And boom, brand loyalty salvaged.

        • Premium User Badge

          Don Reba says:

          Because when people say free and Microsoft in the same sentence the only reasonable reaction is to question the fuck out of it.

          – They have been giving away software for free to students and small business for a long time now.
          – You don’t need to pay MS anything to develop for Windows. They even have a free version of Visual Studio, which is a more complicated piece of software than Windows itself.
          – They own and supports one of the major open software hubs — Codeplex.
          – They create tons of free open-source software.

        • arhaine says:

          Wow, you’re wrong on so many levels.

      • Solidstate89 says:

        At this point I’ve just stopped fucking caring to correct people. It happens so often that all I can muster is an eye roll and a pfffft before I move on.

      • Baines says:

        Probably for the same reason people spread misinformation about Windows 8. Or claim that there was no reason beyond marketing to skip “Windows 9” despite there being plenty of reason. (Even the article writer committed both of those acts in this article, in addition to all the commenters who don’t seem willing to acknowledge just how much code would break with the use of “Windows 9”.)

        • pepperfez says:

          The actual reason they skipped 9 sounds way more urban-legendy and “lol M$oft” than most true statements do, though.

          • Baines says:

            Speaking from a computer programmer perspective, it is entirely believable.

            Heck, I’ve *written* crappy code like that. Not for pay, and not for long duration use, but I’ve written quick, dirty, and lazy solutions like that. I’ve also seen plenty of quick and dirty code written by others. Even stuff that was *meant* to be temporary can end up hanging around for years, which doesn’t even get into the stuff that was badly written despite being meant to be long-term. And the you get the bureaucracy of large organizations involved?

        • iainl says:

          I don’t doubt there’s a stack of code out there that would get the wrong end of the stick when seeing “Windows 9”. But given the way that the version string for 7’s kernel is 6.1, I do have to wonder if it’s -also- for the same reason the second Xbox is called the 360, rather than 2; i.e. that its main competitor in this case is called OSX, and we all know that 10 is better than 9.

          BIG NUMBERS ARE GOOD NUMBERS.

      • kemryl says:

        I imagine it’s motivated mostly by Microsoft’s desire to avoid an XP-like situation from happening again, but also to compete with Apple and Android for the consumer market, who also release free updates. On that front, I expect they are hoping to absorb the cost in revenue by filling their app store with ad-supported or “free” junk software until it is dilute of its usefulness to someone who might actually prefer a Windows tablet or phone to an Apple/Android one for its potential utility. That, and do as they have begun doing already, which is to move towards an ad- and datamining-based profit model, while relying less on their own platforms to deploy their software.

        I think it’s likely to work out well enough, unfortunately. This is the modernization of Microsoft that Satya was hired for.

    • badmothergamer says:

      I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure he just copied and pasted his exact comment from the last Win10 RPS article. I know I recognize a lot of it.

      And yes, there were dozens of people telling him he was wrong the last time he complained as well.

  5. vexis58 says:

    Holding off partly due to the privacy concerns and partly because of the forced updates. Google’s recent forced update to Google Play Music that completely removed star ratings on my entire song library left me pretty wary about agreeing to automatically accept all updates on anything. I’m not worried about bugs sneaking in, I’m worried about Microsoft deciding that a certain UI feature I really like is dumb and they’re going to remove it and there’s nothing I can do to convince them otherwise or revert back to the version that still had that feature.

    I get why they’re doing it (it really helps if your entire userbase is on the same version) and I know they’re releasing a pro version that lets you avoid forced updates, but I haven’t actually seen any good arguments on why it’s an improvement over Windows 7 other than “it’s new and at least it’s not windows 8!” that I’m willing to spend a hundred bucks on a pro version so that I can avoid a feature I hate when Windows 7 still works perfectly fine.

    Also, ever since I watched Kingsman I’m suspicious of giant corporations giving things out for free to everybody in the world at the same time.

    • dsch says:

      It has also been auto-updating new AMD drivers to older versions.

    • ffordesoon says:

      You had to watch a movie to be suspicious of that?

    • Mut says:

      This is my biggest problem. I’ve had updates break things before (to the point of doing a roll-back), so being told that I have to install everything “or else” is kind of a dealbreaker. Besides, Microsoft’s already shown that they’re willing to dip their toes into the adware pool (Upgrade to Windows 10). Who’s to say they won’t pull an Xbox Live somewhere down the line and throw some banners on the desktop? Or maybe just tuck a few into the start menu?

      No, too many red flags for me. I’ll just wait and see how the whole thing plays out.

      • Baines says:

        Yes, broken updates are a real issue. Microsoft has rolled back parts of its own updates in the past.

        It isn’t just Microsoft, either. Heck, the worst broken update stories tend to be the hardware manufacturers. After having both a busted sound driver update and a busted video driver update within a one year period, for several years after I’d actually wait a couple of days to install any updates. And let’s not forget times like when Nvidia for several months kept distributing drivers that were causing physical damage to certain graphics cards. (Which doesn’t even get into fun like Nvidia apparently for years using a driver install process that could completely bork Windows if something went wrong.)

      • Cronstintein says:

        I wonder about that too. I could easily see them wanting to put advertising in that right pane from the start button. They certainly did a ton of that on xbox 360 so… no thanks.

        I really like win7. It’s stable and makes sense mostly. It doesn’t burn my eyes with super high saturation panels for no good reason. That metro design is nice on phones but looks awful on full sized monitors (imho).

        Unless dx12 shows some serious performance increases (10fps or more) I’m going to stick with 7.

        • kemryl says:

          Once DX12 is in prevalent use, you should probably expect those performance improvements. I remember reading that someone who worked with it in early stages said it was basically DX11 with Mantle bolted on (in a not-very-exaggerated sense). In other words, you can bypass the slower DX interface to get lower-level hardware access for optimization purposes. No significant new eye-candy tricks, but performance gains should abound.

          If that’s what tips your scale, you’ll probably want to upgrade. Anoint yourself with lubricant while you can, for the advertisers with their JS-injectors this way approach.

    • Archonsod says:

      Forced updates is a pretty big deal breaker for me.

      Although ‘free’ is the only reason I’d even consider the upgrade in the first place – I pretty much only keep Windows around for those few games which won’t play nice with Linux.

  6. badmothergamer says:

    I’ve been using 10 on my work desktop and laptop for about 6 months and aside from the issues mentioned above like the separate “settings” and “control panel” (which is incredibly stupid and frustrating), hard to discern file permissions, and all those damn live tiles on my start menu, I’ve liked it. It should be noted I only have about 5 hours of experience on 8 and 8.1 though, so I’m comparing to 7.

    However, I have no intention of upgrading my gaming desktop until DX12 games start coming out. 10 doesn’t offer anything I really need and I have a 7 setup that runs very, very well.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      You can remove the live tiles and the space the occupy in the Start menu.

    • gwathdring says:

      Weird Settings issues are present in Windows 8 as well, unfortunately.

    • Borodin says:

      You can remove the live tiles from the Start Menu

      Right-click on each tile and select Unpin from Start. Keep doing this until all the tiles are gone

      Now you can resize the Start Menu by dragging the right-hand edge to remove the space where the tiles used to be, leaving just the classical start menu on the left. You can adjust its height if you wish by dragging its top edge

  7. Premium User Badge

    Don Reba says:

    No complaints about removal of visual distinction between focused and unfocused windows? All titlebars are plain white now. It’s a pretty major pet peeve for me.

    • gwathdring says:

      :( That’s a problem for me. I do a lot of multi-window stuff.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Also—and I think this is since 8 toned down Aero—you can’t set a dark window border color.

      I mean, you can, but the titlebar text won’t be readable since it no longer has the soft white glow behind it. And you can’t change the text color that I can find.

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        The October release of Windows 10 had beautiful colourful titlebars that worked very well, just as they always have.

  8. Holysheep says:

    I’m a bit bothered by all these UI problems, but … upgrading from Win 7 seems to be mandatory to me at this point.

    The command prompt has gotten a nice overhaul, I’ve heard.
    Using it quite frequently, I’m delighted by this.

    Additionally, I’ve been doing a lot of work stuff on Linux, and I’ve missed some linux features that were added in Win 10, namely, virtual desktops. These, could look weird for someone who only ever used windows but I find it damn useful. if you’re one of those guys who have multiple screens yet don’t find enough room for everything, and have overlapping windows, so much that in the end you don’t even switch between them but open new ones and realize you had something started already, this is not bad at all, as you can organize and switch to different, virtual “screens” as you wish.

    … Which is also great if you got things to hide. You gross person.

    Also, multi screen support is better, I’ve heard as well. I have two screens and I need a third party software to get a bar on both, and some more things (like a different wallpaper on each) … and windows 8/10 handle it by default I heard, which is great, because while I understand not everybody has a huge multi screen setup, computers have been around for a while now, and using your old screen as a secondary is a huge life saver, but it wasn’t fully exploited on 7.

    And there are all the SSD optimization features, which, while I didn’t look into, sound like a nice thing to have since I have my OS and some games that need fast disk access on a SSD.

    I wanna see what DX12 brings. dx12 and ddr4 make me think that everyone considering an upgrade right now should probably wait a bit more.

  9. loldrums says:

    Win 8.1 does have a couple things going for it. It’s faster, the task manager is sublime, and the search function that you can quickly access by swiping the right side of the screen is genuinely useful. Everything else sucks as reported, but I have learned to rely on those three things to cover up the faults.

  10. Stevostin says:

    ” but again, for me, it just means acres of screen estate squandered on Live Tile widgets I simply don’t use, when all I really want is a quick list of applications”

    Ok, at that point I am positive th

    • Stevostin says:

      (wow this one posted itself!)

      … I am positive that you simply are stuck with all habits that you think are “fast and efficient” when they’re actually not. If you ever start to search an app in a list of more than 10 items you’re slow. Here’s how fast ppl do it: window key – first three letter of your app – enter – it’s launched. Windows 8 Start menu is just here for the thing you launch very often and yes at this it’s more efficient than good old start menu because it’s a space entirely created by you.
      Also you can remove any tile you want fast. If you don’t like meteo, right click suppress. Not that hard, was it ?

      I don’t want to sound harsh but if you want to make “educated” comments on an OS you need to be a bit more educated about their work flow. Basically Windows 8 is AFAICT everything windows 7 but noticeably better with no loss of no sort. Sure I am not all knowing and maybe I am wrong but certainly not in the points you raised.

      • Frank says:

        Yeah, I agree. Harping on default GUI appearance and behavior doesn’t make much sense. As long as my Win+Arrow Keys and Win+[Type Program Name] work and it runs smoothly, it’s cannot be worse than Win 7.

        • nearly says:

          For all the cries of “they’ve ruined traditional PC interaction for the sake of touch!” I’ve never actually seen anyone articulate what’s changed or how it has damaged the mouse and keyboard experience. The strange thing to me is that Windows 10 seems far more egregious about the blending of touch and traditional desktop in a way that 8 wasn’t. The only real change in 8 was defaulting to Start Screen which happens once every boot and thus shouldn’t be a regular problem (and even less so if you reboot frequently because you’ll learn to remember where it is that much more quickly), and moving Shutdown/etc. to the charms or whatever which is hard to find the first time–if you don’t just google it. No significant part of how you interact with anything changed in a meaningful way: maybe a button or command is named something different, but it’s literally the exact same mechanics for most any typical usage. There is absolutely nothing that is easier done on Windows 7.

          From messing with a test build of 10, it makes far less sense to have the weird Start Menu compromise. Why add an additional button press to get to all of my apps when everything that it’s displaying to me on the first place could have been in that same place while still showing everything else? It just genuinely feels like a step backward to compromise for people who would do well to just learn how to interact with something that functions exactly the same as whatever it is that they’re used to.

          • gwathdring says:

            That people haven’t articulated it to you personally speaks more to the skill of the articulation than anything else.

            I can specify a lot of problems I had with the Windows 8 Start Screen that had nothing to do with it’s concessions for a touch interface. I could describe an even more touch-friendly system that would also be more mouse-friendly.

            The main issue is that while the start menu is beginning to seem like an outdated kluge, the search function is a new-fangled kludge for many applications and the start-screen lacks basic hierarchical functionality.

            Let’s say I want to quickly find the uninstaller for a certain game. In Window 7 I could go to the Start Menu folder for that game and click on the uninstaller. Usually this was faster than opening the control panel, waiting for the Programs and Features page to slooooooowwwwwly populate itself and uninstalling from there (that control panel tool has it’s own set of absurd problems too). In Windows 8.1, the start screen makes a royal mess. Either all the icons plop together or it just copies whatever it put on the desktop or it doesn’t add the start menu icons at all. In addition to being somewhat inconsistent in my experience compared to the same programs installed on Windows 7 (not sure whose fault that one is; could go to either side of the fence), the dump-it-all-together thing is awful. It means that if I’m on a touch device I’m painstakingly pawing through many more icons than I need when I could instead have context-sensative or gesture-sensative icons that double as the exe shortcut and an expandable folder full of all the non-exe shortcuts. That’s the beauty of touch interfaces, surely …

            In any case, they made the start screen yet more difficult to organize by making it impossible to create not only hierarchical structures but even coherent structures. Icons stacked in a strange two-collumn wide vertical zig-zag rather than either section-wide rows or section-tall collumns. This made keeping things in a sensible pattern impossible and meant you couldn’t rely on muscle memory to find things. You couldn’t rely on the alphabet either because, again, if you want the (frequently unspecified) uninstall buttons in the Start Screen, a lot of them will be in the U section while others will be close to their parent icons. But surely at least we can organize separate sections in 3D space since we can zoom out on the start screen and look at this tiny constallation view of all the sections, right? Surely that allows us to use more real-estate and create some space-based navigation scheme? Nope. Sections must be laid out left-to-right (if only the damn icons were so conservative ….). Surely, at least, we can treat every icon as a tile and resize the main icon in a family to be larger, shrinking the other icons from the same program? Nope. Regular desktop start menu short-cuts didn’t behave that way by default; it was just a loosely organized pile of crap. It’s a lose-lose situation.

            The search function is all very well, but you really need both ways to find something. Search is faster if you know exactly what you need and there’s no ambiguity between what you’re looking for and other stuff in your system. Hierarchical is important for when you know what RELATIONSHIP what you need has with other stuff in your system, but not necessarily what it is called and/or when you know that what you need might be ambiguously similar to other stuff in your system. That kind of search function will never be the end-all-be-all of organization. For most of my programs, yes, that was sufficient and the vastly improved speed was great. But for enough of my programs and files to make overall productivity lower, the new systems fought me substantially.

            I have nothing against new systems. I don’t like the start menu. I want a good alternative. I don’t mind interfaces that work for both mouse and keyboard and for touch. I welcome such flexibility especially in an operating system. I like the new Windows Phone experience as I’ve encountered it on other people’s devices. And so on and so forth.

            But I have a lot of very specific problems with their implementation and I can also understand why people who don’t spend a lot of their time thinking about design and ergonomics wouldn’t necessarily articulate some of the things that aren’t working for them or are preventing them from adapting.

          • gwathdring says:

            If nothing else, you should realize you’re on shaky ground when you propose that two things that are not the same (and are not intended to be the same) function “exactly the same way.”

            Cut the crap. You’d do well to at least pretend to adhere to basic logic, especially if you’re going to deign to condescend to people.

          • nearly says:

            You’re not being completely honest here, or else don’t really understand how Windows 7 (let alone 8 or 10) works. Most all Start functionality carries over. If you install a program and it asks if you want to create a Start Menu item, then you can find the uninstall option which would have been in that folder in 7, and it is going to be reached by going to the Start Menu and finding the item under All Apps. Not all applications include an Uninstall in the Start folder because not all programs have an associated Uninstall.exe in their program folder.

            Clicking onto my Start Menu in 8.1 right now, I have Uninstall options right at the top my most recently installed programs (Nexus Mod Manager, a Python interpreter, The Witcher 3,etc,) all appearing as tiles which can be moved or rearranged, and which appear in the search bar if I type “uninstall.” I also have a bunch of manuals in various languages for The Witcher 2 further back because apparently it adds all that to the folder that generates the Start Menu items and I’m far too lazy to spend time organizing a part of the screen I rarely every look at. These items are generated by the contents of specific folders, meaning if I just went to a folder and moved all of these files somewhere else, they would not appear in the Start Menu any longer: I could replace them with anything I want and have it appear under The Witcher 2’s heading. Not every application creates any of this, and some prompt you to do so: I usually click No because I’m capable of uninstalling a program by other means. I seriously doubt there is any real inconsistency in program behavior between environments given that the sheer similarity of environments means that most things aren’t changed unnecessarily. If something different does happen, it’s because of the people making the software; this seems like an odd thing to have to explain to someone who is insisting on being an efficient power-user.

            Beyond that, and most damning to your point, is that you can right click ANY program tile in the Start Menu and click Uninstall in the dialogue if it’s a conventionally installed program; if your Start Menu tile actually leads to an .exe, this won’t appear as an option, but you can still click “Open in location” and delete it. It’s actually EASIER than 7 to uninstall a program from the modern Start Menu.

            Hot tip? If you google “how to uninstall desktop program” and the first result returns a list of 7 ways, the first of which is your “slow” Control Panel method and the second of which states “Most desktop applications, when installed, create at least an Uninstall shortcut. This is generally found in the application’s folder in the Start Menu (in Windows Vista, Windows 7, etc) or in the Apps view, that’s accessible from the Start screen (in Windows 8.1)” then maybe YOU don’t actually understand how the things you’re talking about work or how all you can accomplish your goal. If you’re going to respond with “actually, they did remove the functionality,” please for the love of god, make sure they actually did remove the functionality.

            Also: the icons don’t “plop” together. They’re squares. They exist in a grid. You can’t put one on top of another like an icon on the desktop. They go where you put them, meaning you can move them so there is as much or as little space around an icon as you want. You can make them bigger and smaller. If it has live tiles, you can have that functionality or turn it off (in most apps). You can group them in columns and give names to categories. I know it’s difficult when people add features that you don’t understand how to use, but they’ve actually added a lot of functionality and utility even as they’ve kept an incredible amount of the same.

          • aepervius says:

            @nearly: Well speaking of complete honesty, the human quirk are so that we prefer to concentrate our eyes on one place and wander our eyes in one direction only (left-right or top/down). the start menu fit that purpose neatly, you scroll down until you find the entry you want , and plop the uninstall is inside, the eyes is attracted to a small zone, functional, and scrolls only up/down (or left right if you changed your task bar position) in fact in win 7 you could easily enter the menu with the windows key and with solely arrows and enter find a menu items like an uninstall. Sooooo now come tiles. A mechanism which was primarly used on small screen estate to show a functionality similar to menu. See the problem ? Firstly you scroll a whole screen which attracts the eyes everywhere. Then you have to search on the WHOLE screen , left right, AND up/down. Adding a search functionality means ergonomically for msot people you have to us both keyboard and mouse. And your whole screen estate is used making your eyes wander and you los what is in the background : sometimes I need to check what’s is in a FAQ or whatever.

            For a desktop the UI is far less usable, far more tiring. And as a developer/user it is quite clear to me me it is far less functional and ergonomic and somebody forgot to ask desktop user to give a feedback. I would bet my last shirt that most probably when doing GUI test feedback among people, they either did not collect the desktop feedback or did not bother ask people with desktop usage only. Because there is no way those ergonomy problem would have gone thru somebody using the OS as desktop function primarly, rather than as touch screen stuff.

          • Sarfrin says:

            A stupid big blue settings thing that I never use pops up whenever my mouse pointer strays too far towards one corner of the screen in Windows 8. This doesn’t happen in Windows 7. Glad to be of service.

          • PikaBot says:

            Here’s one example which does not even go into the start screen. At random intervals, my computer will decide to interpret the movements of my mouse as some arcane symbol and pop up an asinine and unwanted bar on the side of the screen. This cannot be disabled. It also cannot be consistently replicated, because touch-based gestures are complete ass with a mouse and I’m bad enough at them on a touch screen, so I can’t even really use whatever meager functionality it offers.

          • nearly says:

            @aepervius

            Press Windows Key. Navigate Start Menu using keyboard arrow keys. Hit Menu Key. Select Uninstall from dropdown.

            The new Start Menu has the benefit of existing in two planes of movement so that you don’t have to scroll through every entry to get to something in a different column. You can also rearrange it in any order so if there’s a program you like to uninstall frequently (yes, I am being facetious), you can place it close to the top left where your cursor will start.

            Please don’t make up and describe human quirks to me as though they’re factual things. If you have to find something in a FAQ in a window that isn’t located exclusively at the far right edge of the screen (or if you have a lot of programs installed), you’re just as screwed in 7. If you’re going into the Start Menu not knowing what you’re looking for (and not being able to figure it out by looking at the entries) or spending so much time searching that you’re forgetting what you’re searching for, I have some serious doubts about whether you’d be able to do anything at all efficiently under either system.

            @Sarfrin

            You’re complaining that it added functionality without removing anything? You can disable Corner Navigation in 8.1. I thought this was a conversation about REMOVING functionality. Or are you just complaining that it’s different?

            @pikabot

            You can disable charms and gestures in 8.1 Even so, I don’t think you’re being honest about whether or not the movement can be replicated to bring up the bar given that there is only one way to do it with a mouse. If you’re on a laptop with a touchpad, the Edge Swipe gesture is under the touchpad device settings in 8 (Control Panel / Hardware and Sound / Devices and Printers / Mouse / Device Settings) and can be disabled. Both what you have described and what Sarfrin mentioned can be made to disappear instantly by simply moving the mouse off of the thing that has appeared and prevented in the future by simply not moving the mouse in a specific gesture which you can disable.

            My current setup is a desk with a rocking chair, and my mouse on the arm. If I can deal with the mouse constantly moving toward a corner any time I’m not touching it, I’d think anyone at a gyroscopically stable workstation could pretty easily avoid triggering a hot corner. It’s actually requires far more intent to bring up the charms than to make them go away given that they only appear if you start and continue a specific gesture which should not be any part of your normal workflow or general usage: there is no way to bring up the charms menu by clicking something in the bottom right corner of the screen. Clicking my friends list in full screen Steam? Doesn’t bring up charms, even if I drag the mouse straight up. Clicking “Show desktop” in the actual bottom right corner and then bringing mouse straight up a la the charms gesture? No charms. The only way to bring it up is to move the mouse offscreen in a corner and then move it up but not away from the edge of the screen.

            Seriously, I get that it’s different but find something real to complain about, like the lack of Start Menu tile folders (a la Windows Phone 8.1) or the seeming inability to opt out of automatic updates in 10 (which may have been removed since the last build I tested).

          • gwathdring says:

            I quite simply mistyped, actually. In Window 8 it was pretty much a drop-box of icons and crap.

            Windows 8.1 turned everything into resizable tiles with a right-click menu that includes the ability to adjust to one of two tile sizes and an uninstall menu. This was not the case in Windows 8. I type 8.1 instead of 8 and I’m sorry for the confusion. This did change in 8.1 which is great for people using 8.1 but doesn’t diminish the initial complaints people had about Windows 8 which were quite relevant when people who made them were using Windows 8.

            Everything else I typed remains. Stuff gets dumped into a mass and cannot be organized into hierarchical units (either folders or something new). It has this weird two-collumn zig-zag that makes organizing it manually impossibly tedious and makes clumping related files together in a visually sensible way extremely difficult and quite vulnerable to sudden changes as new tiles are added. It still does not make use of any of the advanced features that touch-centric and/or tile-centric design suggest immediately to me and instead stubbornly insists on the same two-mode interaction (left click, right click) that the Start Menu had.

          • gwathdring says:

            It’s also really weird that despite taking up an entire screen, the damn thing doesn’t behave like a window; you can’t flip back and forth from the start screen to another window while maintaining everything in the same state (position on the screen, anything typed in, etc) and apps behave in an incredibly awkward way. Windows 10 seems to fix these issues, which is great.

            Also your nonsense about the word plop is just silly; there’s nothing wrong with referring to squares as ploping. I could have said they “flop” together or “slot” together or “mingle” together or however the heck I feel like wording it. You’re just being a condescending ass because I guess it makes you feel all proud of yourself or something.

            There is no way I can find either through helpful websites, microsoft’s own help pages, or my own fiddling that let’s me create space between the tiles; it does not permit me to organize the grid perfectly to my own choosing but rather has, again, a weird two-collumn-at-a-time zig-zagging auto-sort that prevents many of the most intuitive organizations. You can drag and drop tiles all you want, but you can’t organize it sensibly without a lot of tedious fiddling that doesn’t exist in the Start Menu or on the Desktop–even with the desktop set to snap-to-grid mode. This is true in both Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.

            There’s a separate Apps View, sure, but that view is just the Start Menu with all the folders expanded and all the App-as-in-app-store apps wedged in front of the not-quite-start-menu. That is, the Apps page is just a shittier start menu.

          • gwathdring says:

            I went back to a Windows 8 screenshots I have and it looks like I’m conflating the look of the apps screen with the start screen proper; original 8 does appear to have “tiles” for everything, they had a more icon-ish look without all the neatly colored squares. They did, however, seem to have many more problems with figuring out what to stuff in the start-menu-like Apps screen and what to put as tiles on the Start Screen as I see a lot more of the random crap I’m complaining about in these shots than I do in my tidier, but still obnoxious, 8.1 start screen. I don’t have any screenshots of right-clicking but I’m going to go ahead and assume that the Windows 8 pre-.1 screen also had roughly the same right-click menu.

            In addition to saying 8.1 when I meant 8, I was also misremembering some things completely. I do apologize for that.

            But this really isn’t rocket science. The stuff I’m most frustrated with is clearly stuff you personally don’t mind but is also clearly stuff that undeniably still happens in 8.1; there is very poor support for hierarchical organization (you yourself comment on the lack of folders). There is poor support for layout customization. There is poor support for even just moving the darn tiles around. There is poor filtering in terms of what does and doesn’t show up in the Start Screen proper. The Apps panel is just a shitter Start Menu that take more space and time to navigate. The zoom-out group-view mode wastes a ton of real-estate by being a tiny column instead of a proper constellation or grid.

            I quite happily adapted to Android which is radically different from Windows. I do not fear change. What I dislike is an arbitrarily different setup that doesn’t match the inputs and usages of the device and lacks the robust customization to make up for the difference.

          • PikaBot says:

            Everything you said to me is factually incorrect! The charms bar cannot be completely disabled – the closest thing to this is third-party software which instantly closes it. The gesture to summon the charms bar is not touchpad-exclusive; I know, because I haven’t used the touchpad in months, and the bastard thing keeps popping up anyway. You can turn off the ‘hot corners’, but you can’t stop the gesture detection. And it certainly does not go away instantly once you take your mouse off of it; it lingers for several seconds.

    • Distec says:

      When you completely change up the UI for something people have been using for years or decades and throw out the bag of tricks they’d learned, people will not like the new version of your product. It is a damn waste of time trying to convince them on the merits of whatever speed or efficiency metrics you cooked up in test feedback. People in general just use Windows and they’ve been used to how it works for a long time. The majority of users are not particularly tech/Windows literate and they don’t have the time or patience to learn new ways of doing the same old shit that was working fine before. I am perfectly fine with learning how to use a new operating system or any software, really. But there is a high amount of arrogance to expect anybody else to do the same.

      I don’t know what makes this difficult to comprehend. That’s a failure of the product no matter how you slice it.

      • jrodman says:

        The rule of thumb I’ve heard here, is you should never change the interface of your product unless you’re making like a 3x improvement or more. Changes that yield smaller benefits like 2x or 1.5x in workflow efficiency aren’t worth it for anyone to relearn.

      • median says:

        What’s interesting is that Windows 8 was reaching out to the tech-illiterate with its big bright buttons. I think desktop users in general are fairly savvy folks, but they’re also quite set in their ways; and quite cantankerous about people moving their furniture.

  11. caff says:

    I’ve opted into the upgrade from Windows 7 to 10, but I don’t really understand what will happen when I go to rebuild parts my PC. What is considered a hardware upgrade breach of the license link?

    For example, is the “free upgrade” license tied to my motherboard, my CPU, or my hard disk? If I plug my current SSD into a brand new mobo & CPU, will it boot as normal, or will it reject and complain that a new license is needed?

    • gwathdring says:

      I’m concerned as well; my guess is that in desktops and laptops, the motherboard will be the deciding piece of hardware. If so, that seems reasonable to me.

      • gwathdring says:

        Indeed if it were tied to my hard-drive, I’d be pissed off.

        • Premium User Badge

          Harlander says:

          My guess it’d be similar to the Windows Activation in existing versions. The way that determines whether you’ve changed enough for it to care is, apparently, proprietary and not entirely obvious (discussed in some detail here)

          The understanding I’ve scraped together is that a motherboard upgrade would always trigger it, whereas for other components you might trigger it if you, say, change RAM and a HD at the same time, or suchlike.

    • Dr_Barnowl says:

      Do you have a Retail or OEM license?

      (Go look at your Product ID in your system properties. If it’s got OEM in it, it’s an OEM license).

      Retail licenses are transferable between machines. You may have to phone the automatic license annoyance hotline.

      OEM licenses are stuck to the one machine. You most likely have one if you got Windows with your PC.

      After hunting for an answer for some time, I finally found the answer to the question “is it a like-for-like upgrade?” – it is, you get a retail Windows 10 license if you upgrade a retail license.

      Retail licenses cost a bit more, but well worth it in terms of hassle.

      • TormDK says:

        Microsoft has not publically said that OEM will remain OEM, or that Retail will remain retail.

        Fun fact, since I used to work for Microsoft and had access to the activation information in my job role;

        Upgrades are always considered Retail licenses, however the activation servers operate with two parameters;

        Reissue Inside Tolerance (RIT) – Meaning you reinstalled the license on hardware that is not altered to a big degree. (You might have changed RAM, put in a new Graphics Card etc.). Typically, you have a RIT counter of 5 for both OEM and Retail. Once you hit the 5th reactivation, you’ll need to get hold of a CSR person by phone to have it reset/altered.

        Reissue Outside Tolerance (ROT) – Meaning you reinstalled the license on hardware that has been altered alot. Typically this means you changed the motherboard, or a combination of other hardware (You’d need to change CPU, GPU and RAM though to hit ROT with hardware changes outside the motherboard).

        OEM licenses typically have a ROT counter of 0 – meaning it will not allow you to reactivate Windows without going through a CSR, while Retail licenses typically have a ROT counter of 3-5 depending on when it was purchased.

        In regards with the Windows 10 upgrade offer, as Microsoft has publically worded it so far, I would expect them to keep a ROT counter to 0, or prehaps 1, and a RIT counter of 5 as per standard setting. We will not know untill the upgrades starts happening however since they have not been overall specific on how it will Work.

        It makes sense to keep it as an OEM-like license type, given the wording of “Free in the lifetime of the device” that the offer has.

    • fish99 says:

      Since Microsoft keep using the term free ‘for the life of your device’ that tells me that whether your Win7/8 is OEM or retail, it gets you an OEM Win10 key, so change motherboard (and I probably will change motherboard in the next 12 months) and you’re SOL. I’ve also read today (and who knows whether it’s true or not) that there’s a 30 day limit on trying Win10 and switching back to Win 7. If that’s true, that my original retail Win7 keys can stop working, then I doubt I’ll be trying Win10 anytime soon. If, in a years time (just before the free offer expires), Win12 games are starting to become commonplace, I’ll do the upgrade then.

  12. Stevostin says:

    “I’ve got a Surface Pro 3. It’s a mostly lovely thing, bar its lousy cooling and attendant speed-throttling when it gets to hot, which is almost always.”

    Solved it this weekend, just cut windows search/indexation service. The essential still works and you get rid of a good deal of heating. I guess I’ll have to put it back at one point but for now it’s working well and I certainly need the cool when drawing on it with this silly weather.

  13. Havalynii says:

    Well, can’t say that I’m going to make the change anytime soon. 8.1 actually convinced me after I hated 8, and it has worked very well on both my desktop and Surface Pro 3. I tried 10 about a month ago on my SP3 and it was an unmitigated, unoptimised disaster in terms of performance and I have a hard time believing that it has been transformed in that short of a space of time. Maybe 10.1 will change my mind?

  14. Stevostin says:

    “Famously, you’re entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 10 so long as you’re running Windows 7 or 8 and do it before the end of next July.

    Well, unless you have the enterprise edition that is. Funnily my family computer has one, while my professional computer has a family Windows 8 edition.

    • TormDK says:

      There is no way at all that you as a consumer can be licensed an Enterprise version of Windows.

      Enterprise versions are only available through Commercial volume licensing agreements with Microsoft. It is however, one of the most pirated forms of Windows around. (Since it typically runs on either KMS activation, or a high count MAK key).

    • iainl says:

      If you have a legitimate Enterprise licence (e.g. from work) then you have a legit ability to access any version of Windows, including 10; ask your IT department nicely. If, however, you haven’t got access to that licence pool any more for some reason, then you’re a naughty person for keeping the OS anyway, and you can’t really expect MS to make your upgrade life easy.

  15. Hedgeclipper says:

    Its an OS if I notice it that means its doing something wrong – and that’s the lesson MS really needs to take to heart.

    • gwathdring says:

      If you don’t notice the OS you’re using, you’re probably using it wrong.

      Unless you mean something other than the verb “notice” when you write the word “notice.”

  16. alms says:

    Oh my! You’re still playing Adventure Capitalist? You infected me with that virus and now I’m stuck, hopelessly trying to get the final achievement, and I wasn’t too far away when they added like 200 more unlocks so that’s not going to happen in my lifetime. Moon is also an awful push for their IAPs.

    Kids, DO NOT play (or even try) Adventure Capitalist.

  17. TheBigBookOfTerror says:

    Does anyone know how upgrading would affect a dual booting system? At the moment I have windows 7 and XP 64 dual booting. There was a reason when I first set that up but its no longer needed, so its no problem if it is removed, I’m just curious as to how the windows 10 upgrade may or may not affect it and if there’s anything I need to do before hand.

    • nearly says:

      In my experience, Windows will recognize previous installs and possibly allow you to boot into them. My test laptop always asked if I wanted to go to 8 Consumer Preview or 7, and then eventually 10 Insider Preview or 7. My main desktop actually still asks if I want to boot into Vista because one of my HDDs apparently is still listed as a boot partition and has Vista files, though I think I’ve mucked around enough that it wouldn’t actually boot if I tried it. My best guess is that you’ll be fine and probably won’t have to do anything special to make it recognize the other partition, and that it’ll probably ask you which you want each boot.

      If you’re worried about Linux, I’ve never been able to get into an existing Linux partition after a new Windows install, but then I’ve never tried especially hard to get in.

  18. SuicideKing says:

    Thanks Alec, probably one of the most useful reviews of Windows 10 I’ll read on the internet. I’ll probably stick to Windows 7 till DX12 games are out – I still find the Win 7 start menu way better.

  19. Xzi says:

    I ordered a neato Asus Transformer book (2-in-1 tablet/laptop) recently for a very reasonable price. Since my options with that will be Windows 8.1 or Windows 10, I think I’ll upgrade as soon as it arrives. My desktop is my baby, though, and being that it runs Windows 7, which I have loved since my first day using it, I’ll hold off a while to see if there are any glaring problems that people post about on the interwebs. I’ve got a whole year, after all, so unless any Win10/DirectX 12 exclusive must-play games are released, there’s no rush.

  20. zarthrag says:

    Why has no one investigated this once-reported DX12 unholy-hybrid-sli-crossfire-gpu-mixing ability? I’d love to see an article about what it can/cannot do.

    • Xzi says:

      There’s no way it works well. Neither SLI nor Crossfire work very well in their own right, let alone mixed.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        My motherboard is meant to let you merge the power of a riser graphics card and its onboard GPU, but that never worked very well either.

      • mattevansc3 says:

        That’s because they are workarounds. Windows and DirectX was designed around a single GPU so AMD and nVidia have to effectively convince the system its one GPU. It’s why SLI and Crossfire setups are generally limited to two of the same cores, its so they can use the same driver.

        Now if Windows10 is built with SLI and Crossfire in mind and allows for multiple drivers you would see better and more consistent performance as you aren’t adding another level.

        • Uhuru N'Uru says:

          DX12’s main selling point for multi-GPU users is you, potentially, get full Multi GPU usage.
          Now GPU’s are in “laymans terms”, the opposite of Hyperthreading (1 CPU pretending to be 2), they are 2 or more GPU’s pretending to be 1.
          So if each GPU has 4GB of RAM, the combo only has 4GB of RAM and gains are limited, only providing about 25% gains at best, no gain at worst.
          DX12 actually stacks the GPU’s so if each card has 4GB the 2 card combo has 8GB and 3 card 12GB etc.
          Potentially providing 100% gains at best.

          Matched cards will likely give best outcomes.
          Mismatched, but same GPU maker will work better within same GPU Type cards, the wider the generation gap the worse it will be.
          Worst of all will be mixing AMD and Nvidia. They’re cards do not work the same way internally, matching them will be an issue. Mixing manufactuers may also be a factor, if a lesser one.

          These general ranges will overlap of course, with the more powerful cards brute forcing through the minor issues.
          Whether the actual gains actually reach 100%, remains to be seen. The addition of each card should give a similar boost, unlike now where each extra card gives a much smaller gain.

          They will make multi-GPU much more attractive though and not just at the high end, it will make for interesting pricing choices.
          3 cards at $200, could be better than, a card with 3 times the power at $601+.

    • SuicideKing says:

      Probably because it’s not working yet. Wait for Windows 10 to actually release in it’s “final” form, and tech sites may get around to it eventually.

      Whatever “final” means in a SaaS model.

  21. UncleLou says:

    [i]Or that half your settings are in the Modern-styled Settings app and half of them in Control Panel, which still looks like Control Panel has forever.[/i]

    That was one of my main bugbears with Windows 8, and it still is with Windows 10. Settings seem to be spread out over 5 different locations with at least 3 different generations of UIs, and I can’t make rhyme nor reason where I can find what anymore. It’s a complete mess.

    • Kefren says:

      That sounds annoying. Even when I moved up to MS Word 2010 I found that it had new menus and options screens for many things; but for some options you had to dig deeper and ended up in the same options and screens from Word 2003. Instead of unifying it they just slapped a new interface for a limited range of options on top of the old. Like a car that looks shiny but you realise the body and dashboard are just screwed over the frame for a Morris Minor. So you end up having to use two different types of interface to get things done (e.g. Word’s Advanced Find goes back to the old screen). It therefore doesn’t surprise me that this is the same approach they apply to the OS, but it does make me even warier of upgrading. My past experience has always been that some things are better, but some things are words. (I find Windows Explorer in Win7 to be less clear and more complex than the one in XP, even though it does a few nice things XP couldn’t).

  22. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Not a bad article all told. I’ve been wondering about Win10 as the age of the free upgrade draws hence.

    Obligatory nitpicking:
    “What Windows 10 does is have discreet Touch and Desktop modes”

    Are the Touch and Desktop modes quite subtle? Or did you mean “discrete”? Also, does pagination get done automatically, or did someone deliberately decide to have the big bold GAMES heading immediately followed by the page break?

    • pepperfez says:

      I think the heading-before-page-break is house style.
      {And it does sound like a major improvement for the mobile interface to learn how to keep quiet.)

    • median says:

      Discrete as in discrete (separate, individual) not as in discreet (secretive). That is to say, you can have the touch system or the mouse-y system, and you can have them separately instead of lain all on top each other like an orgy you wish you hadn’t been invited to.

  23. Menethor says:

    I strongly advice to not upgrade!

    Despite beeing released this month even the actual builds have MAJOR issues!
    Example? Fine!
    Logging in with your Microsoft Account instead of a local account (which a lot of people did to test some functionality) gives you critical errors on reboot. So critical that you cant use a lot of parts of the system anymore, including the downgrade tool. You can create a new user and log in and work with that one, but that also blocks a downgrade because you have to delete all newly added users, leaving you with the poor fellow that cant use the downgrade again.
    This is by far not the only issue, known since quite some time and still not fixed.

    Beta is a beta, and Windows 10 seems okayish, but the the state of the builds at this time gives me serious doubts about the launch.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      I only saw one guy who was really adamant that there’d be no reason to wait for early bug fixes before upgrading, and wow, he got so angry about it.

      • Asurmen says:

        That might have been me, and if it was I didn’t get angry at all.

        • Asurmen says:

          Oh my Lord I need an edit button.

          Nor did I say there was no reason to not upgrade. Quite clearly there is! What I objected to was the stupid argument that you should never ever upgrade until bug fixes. It al depends on what you do with your computer and how tolerant of/how well you spot bugs.

          What I did get annoyed at was some personal attacks just because I didn’t share whoever it was I was arguing with stance.

  24. snowgim says:

    Man that desktop colour selection window pisses me off so much. I’ve left feedback about it noting that Windows 1.0 from 1985 had more desktop colours to choose from than win10, 30 years later.
    For god’s sake, windows 95 had 16 million colour choices! I just want some darker shades instead of blinding myself with colour every time I open the start menu. >:(

    • Press X to Gary Busey says:

      You can use hue, saturation and brightness sliders to define your own theme colour from the usual old range since april, as far as I can google:
      link to neowin.net

      • snowgim says:

        Can’t see your link, but from what I can tell that’s an old build. The latest builds have exactly 48 colours to choose from. No sliders or nothing. :(

      • Premium User Badge

        Don Reba says:

        This is an old build — 10056 (see lower right corner in your screenshot). Microsoft has been busy removing features in every build, and we are now at 10162. The first public October release was actually the best one.

  25. Kefren says:

    One thing that really confuses me is the stuff to do with file metadata in Windows. I have a drive with my data on (which can be backed up and restored), and one for the OS. At some point (when I moved to Win7, maybe?) I started getting various issues with “ownership” or whatever the terminology was. E.g. I use SynchroniseIt to back up data, and it started failing on many files. I looked into it and it was all sorts of complicated stuff to do with a Security tab on each file, which displayed a list of “Group or user names” (none of which I recognised or had ever consciously chosen) each of which had different permission levels (again, which I had never set or changed). I had to fiddle about with that before the files could be moved or backed up. Maybe those features will be useful to some people, but for me, I just want a file. Maybe the option to make it read-only (which I sometimes did on Windows 3.1) could be handy, but I could live without that. I’ve never fully understood where all that stuff comes from; what the implications are (though it seems to affect backing up the files sometimes); whether I can delete it all or reset it. For example, when I reinstall Windows I have to enter a name (I can’t remember if it is meant to be me or for the PC) – I usually just choose something random such as NA or None. I suspect using a different name when I reinstall the OS could cause these problems? It annoys me that it is so complicated, and a feature I can’t seem to turn off. I am not even sure what questions to ask. When I Google things to do with file ownership and security and Windows it is way too advanced to me, and misses out on the fundamental explanation of what is going on – it just raises more questions. Also, is this extra metadata Windows is adding to the file itself, rather than just storing in its Windows registry or something? If so does that mean files accrue more and more weird “ownership/security” data over the years? Won’t this cause problems in the future if I move to another OS and try to use the files, or email one to someone? Sorry, to techie people this might all be clear, but as someone who just wants to create, copy and back up files (whether they are Word docs, photos, games or music) all the permissions stuff seems horrendously complicated, and I presume Windows 10 will add extra layers to that. Is there some software I can run that strips out all that extra Windows permission and makes the files just basic files again? Anything simple I can read to understand what is going on, what the implications are, and how to manage it? Sorry for the long message. One thing Windows doesn’t do well is explain actually how it works, and what it is doing in the background in areas like this.

    • Premium User Badge

      Don Reba says:

      If you start getting problems like those, you should seriously consider rolling back to the last restore point and changing your backup software. Mocking around security settings without understanding what you are doing is a bad, bad idea.

      • Kefren says:

        The problem is, it could be a file that I hadn’t opened for years, maybe since two OS reinstalls ago. And I have had this problem sometimes after just reinstalling Windows – there’s nothing to roll back to. It’s what I mean by all the security permissions stuff being incredibly confusing! I’m sure I read somewhere that they’re only used by a small percentage of Windows users, and for the vast majority it would be better if they didn’t exist because they don’t do anything useful, but can cause major problems.

        • Kefren says:

          “for the vast majority it would be better if they didn’t exist because they don’t do anything useful, but can cause major problems.”
          They = “the convoluted permissions settings”. Not the users who don’t need them.

        • Premium User Badge

          Don Reba says:

          The whole Windows security system is based on access tokens. It is not something that could be removed, and it is useful to all, whether they are aware of it or not. But regular users are not expected to change security settings themselves.

  26. Emton says:

    Heyyy are tile back ground colors still screwy? I had started using Windows 8 after hearing about how crappy it was but I liked it, I even thought the start menu was pretty good. THEN…..

    They forced an update to 8.1 After this update the background colors for tiles on the start screen took on a color close to the most prevalent color in the icon. This basically randomized the tile background colors and it looked awful and there was no easy way to get tile colors uniform. It was so bad I had to start using Classic Start Menu and just forget the start screen entirely. Have they figured out this was a totally mental idea and fixed it for Windows 10?

    • snowgim says:

      Yeah they did. It was like that a few builds ago, but now all non-app icons in the start menu use the chosen ‘accent’ colour as the icon background.

      As someone who doesn’t use any of the terrible apps they include with windows, that means my whole start menu is 1 colour, which is a little boring. I wish you could manually set the colour for each icon, but I doubt they’re going to add that any time soon. They seem to be in the mindset of removing as much user choice as possible, rather than adding to it.

  27. Pizzacheeks McFroogleburgher says:

    I have a boat. It’s kept me happy for the last 6 years or so. I bought it despite the previous boat being a pile of crap, but lucky me, this one has been just fine.. The next boat was apparently a pile of crap too. Now they’ve made another boat and want me to jump on it for free. I’m suspicious. Hesitant.. You know this boat builder makes loads of different types of boats and they’re all fucked up in one way or another. Why would I not just… Stick with my good boat, wait and see if the new boat is shit? Now.. Here’s the magic.. Go back and replace ‘boat’ with ‘dildo’.

  28. Rob Lang says:

    and while the ‘flat’ icon style is very much keeping up with Apple and Android Joneses’

    The move away from skeuomorphism and toward flat, simplified icons was a big leap MS made in Win8, which Apple and Android then copied (and did better). It was called the “Metro” theme and was all about a way of doing UI design that Google have since defined (and improved on) as material design.

    • PikaBot says:

      Too bad it’s shit. This is one design trend I can’t wait to see put into the ground.

      • pepperfez says:

        I think it would offend me less if it were acknowledged as a stylistic choice rather than an objective improvement. I mean, there isn’t really any a priori reason to deprecate skeuomorphism, is there? Beyond establishing a more solid visual brand identity, but that’s of no value to the end user.

        • kemryl says:

          I certainly don’t think it’s an objective improvement, but for me it is soemtimes welcome because the use of gradients to imply depth and volume works very poorly in my opinion. Most OS’s I know of don’t use proper 3d rendering for the majority of the UI surface, instead using varying gradients to mimic shadow and reflectivity. I think it looks awful though. It gives me headaches due to the excessive local contrast, and especially if done poorly can make an otherwise clean interface look cluttered and confusing.

          I am not in favor of flattening everything willy-nilly, and more often than not it is accompanied by a general oversimplification of layout and visual cues which is the opposite of what a proper flattenization should look like. When done right, though, I think it can lend a more pleasing and just as usable appearance. The main thing is to still provide proper indication of what is meant to be clicked and what isn’t, and depth is only one available way to suggest that. Animation, icon design, proper consistency of layout, etc. also go miles in that direction on their own, and depth isn’t strictly necessary IMHO.

  29. mao_dze_dun says:

    I have this odd problem. After I reserved my copy of Windows 10, my current 8.1 won’t allow me to upgrade to the preview build. I download the .exe but when I activate it, all it does is check for normal OS updates. Doesn anybody else have that problem?

  30. silentdan says:

    This was a weird article to read. It outlined some problems that (to me, at least) sound really irritating and undesirable, but offered vague praise of the product nonetheless. “The steak was undercooked, the string beans were limp and tasteless, the mashed potatoes were cold, and the lager was flat. For people lost in the desert, subsisting only on cactus flesh and one’s own urine, this is the best eating you’ve encountered in a long time. Overall, I was very happy with the meal. Should you eat here? Yes, basically.” I feel like we want and expect very different things from these products.

    While I understand how Surface owners can see value in W10, I can’t imagine installing it on my PC until there’s a game I simply must have, that requires DX12. Compared to 7, 10 sounds really unpleasant. I think I’ll let it sit for a while and give some make-it-like-7 programs time to mature.

    • Cronstintein says:

      I couldn’t agree with you more. If I had a touch computer using 8, I would upgrade.

      But from 7? Not a chance.

    • kemryl says:

      RPS is obviously complicit in the grand conspiracy of the Illuminati and co. to leverage Microsoft, the NSA, the Church of the Subgenius, George Lucas and “New Games Journalism” to construct an advertisement-delivery apparatus that will be so accurate in predicting your taste that you will be glued to the screen at all times, salivating over the toothpick-propped and olive-oil covered appearance of the latest cutting edge burger designs such that you are frozen in place, unable to struggle as they abduct you in Kia Sorento-shaped UFOs to take you to the Grade “F” Beef Reprocessing Plants on Mars/Utah so the Quasi-Vegan Hipsterlizardmanwomenpeople of Silicon Valley can infuse their Soylent beverages with the blood of innocents to disguise the offputting taste and achieve the Other American Dream of being so self-sufficient that you are partially composed of your own offspring, and never have to eat a proper meal again.

      Open your eyes, people!

    • Mctittles says:

      This is what I’ve been hearing about windows updates forever. People are “happy” and “excited” but when talking about specifics they say “at least it’s not…” or “you can live with it”. Never a must have awesome feature to make your work more productive or easier.

    • median says:

      This reminds me of several reviews for a Saitek joystick. “I had to take it apart and adjust a sensor, but after that, it worked great! 5 stars!”

  31. dangrak says:

    For some reason, when I switched to Windows 10 preview build from 8.1, I had to lower a ton of GTAV options to get the game running as smoothly as it had been. I was able to push the game past the recommended memory limit and it ran great. But now I’ve got to decrease a lot of stuff I had on high or ultra. I’ve only got a GTX660 so I didn’t expect much, but it was a big disappointment. Most other games run fine because I didn’t have a similar situation with them.

  32. icemann says:

    Speaking as a Windows 7 user who completely skipped Windows 8 due to it’s touch screen style interface, whilst I’m tempted to “upgrade” to Windows 10, I just don’t see the overriding factor to compel me to upgrade.

    I love the simplistic look to 7. It does everything I need without issue and all my games work fine (except for the 64 bit ones since stupid me went with the 32 bit version). It all just looks like a scaled back Windows 8 with lots of IN YOUR FACE style things and XBox tie ins. Seeing as I was more of a Sony fanboy prior to ditching consoles entirely (thank you steam summer sales), that is completely useless to me. Cortana feels alot like like that little paperclip avatar you used to see in Office 97. Looks nice, but pointless in the end.

    So I just don’t see the BIG overriding reason to upgrade. Sure you get direct x 12, but no games support it yet so that’s completely pointless. I just like an OS that’s quick to get to the things I need in the same style of every windows from 95 – Windows 7. Windows 8 was a COMPLETE fuck up by Microsoft, with everything requiring completely different ways to get to it. Whenever I’ve used my parents laptop which has it, I feel like I’m trying to use the mouse and keyboard with my arms crossed. Completely hate it.

    So when people say, “Well windows 10 is basically Windows 8 slimmed back to be more like 7” my first thoughts “then sticking with 7 would be bad because?”.

    I think if MS would place up some sort of test environment to give people like myself a chance to have a good play of it without the gamble of an upgrade you can’t undo would be great. Let people see how good or bad it is, and just how different or similar it is.

    Other factors of concern are the collection of user data (as who doesn’t use piratebay in this day and age honestly), and the fact that Windows 10 is still in beta and quite buggy (from what I’ve read). Why change to a buggy beta when you have a completely bug free alternative already installed?

    • median says:

      You drove your copy of XP into the ground, didn’t you?

      I only upgraded to 7 because I was building a new PC. I’ve been quite happy with it and I’m thinking along the same lines you are.

      The two reasons to upgrade are 1) To stop questioning whether or not I should upgrade (I could have upgraded and downgraded in the time I’ve spent researching) and 2) to take advantage of the freebie while its available.

      None of those are *good* reasons, but they can be compelling.

  33. rcguitarist says:

    If I was Microsoft and wanted to be evil I wouldn’t make windows 10 become subscription based…oh no…I would lure everybody in with DX12 and the OS being free, then charge micro-transactions for security updates. 99 cents here, $1.50 there adds up to $$$$. Service packs….Let’s go with $9.99.

  34. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Weeks before release – no details about licensing yet. Clean install? Isos? Keys? Are they expecting us to install on the existing W7? What happens with my license if I change the board or system disk?
    Let’s wait a few months and see what happens…

    • median says:

      From what I’ve repeatedly read, the Windows 10 upgrade is an upgrade, so it installs over whatever you’re upgrading from.

      If you change the motherboard on an OEM version of windows — one that arrived with your computer — you are equally screwed in 7, 8, and 10. If you bought the retail version, then you also bought the ability to swap out your motherboard or do whatever the hell you want (on one computer), and that transfers to Windows 10.

  35. jarowdowsky says:

    Goddamn, combining Metro design with George Osborne… Not exactly winning me over.

    So when does windows 7 stop working, if it doesn’t I can’t see any readon to upgrade – though happy to be convinced….

  36. edwardh says:

    Weird nobody has pointed it out yet but: Classic Shell FTW!

    I’ve installed Windows 10 on my Gigabyte Brix recently just for testing and found the default interface to be quite a mess. Especially the uncomfortable start menu. It seems MS has screwed it up beyond repair after XP (ever since, I’m using Classic Shell).

    I just hope someone will always be skilled enough to replace Microsoft’s horrible design choices with great ones. Because I still remember Litestep times very well (in case you’re not aware of it – it was a full shell replacement for Windows… the WHOLE interface was customized) and those replacements were usually very pretty but usability was lacking.

    • Mctittles says:

      Funny you mention litestep. It’s still around and works with Win7. Granted the themes you find on deviantart etc have some problems but if you know a bit of scripting you can make something much faster and easier to use than the windows interface. Combine that with the program “Launchy” and your golden…

  37. SanguineAngel says:

    My only real niggle with Windows 10 is the inability to organise the All Apps menu. I don’t mind it being confined to the single column so much but it frustrates me that I cannot organise items inside it, instead I am stuck with it’s stupid alphabetical sort.

    • iainl says:

      That’s odd; my Windows 7 Start menu insists on being alphabetic, too.

  38. Radiant says:

    My get windows 10 notification disappeared this morning.
    That good or bad?

    • instantcoffe says:

      Check Windows Update. It’ll say that your upgrade is “reserved”.
      Try to click “Learn More” and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what is going to happen.

  39. Trinnet says:

    I didn’t find this review very helpful.

    Going by the steam stats, a majority of PC gamers use desktops running Windows 7. The perspective Alec offers (that of someone who uses touchscreens a lot and had only been using windows 8) isn’t very useful to that audience.

    I’d love it if one of the RPS team who’d been using Windows 7 could offer their opinion.

    • kud13 says:

      Agreed.
      I went from. 98SE to XP to 7, bypassing ev single bad Windows version (my parents needed to emergency replacement of their desktop and got Vista, but I stay as far away from it as I can.

      8 wasn’t even considered because I absolutely abhor all things touch-interface.

      No there’s 10. I’m mildly interested I it due to DX 12, but i’m reluctant to step out of the comfort zone of Win 7 classic theme, where everything just works, when I need it, how I need it, without suggesting me things I may or may not find convenient, with minimum noticeable intrusions/oversight from M$oft.

      What should motivate me to upgrade, beyond the promise of DX 12?

  40. equatorian says:

    As far as 8 is concerned, I sometimes wonder why the bunch of people hating its touch interface so much didn’t just install Classic Shell. I did that Day 1, never touched the Metro interface except when checking the weather app (which is the one good thing about it) and it’s an excellent OS. Not that much different from 7, and a bit more stable.

    Not that I think having to install a third-party software to fix what should be a standard feature in an OS is a good thing, mind you. I’ll lambast 8 for that decision any time. Just wonder why people who have issues with it didn’t try to fix their experience.

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Having to do something to fix a problem that someone else created would make me complain about it more, not less.

    • Oakreef says:

      I’m puzzled by the number of people who claim to be power users yet apparently still use the start menu and refused to change over to Windows 8 due to its absence. If you routinely use the start menu to open things for the love of god do yourself a favour and get into the habit of hitting the windows key and just typing in first few letters of whatever you want to open. It’s much faster and easier.

  41. Blake Casimir says:

    Anyone else having a little deja vu here?

    Alec doesn’t make a single mention of the privacy issues Windows 10 and it’s EULA bring with it. I would suggest anyone considering the upgrade consider these before going ahead. Hopefully someone will compile a list of ways to disable the data 10 puportedly shares to MS.

    • Agnosticus says:

      Absolutley. I wonder why people just accept it to be eaten by the corporate data kraken…

    • Asurmen says:

      I upgraded. There’s a load of sliders on setup for sharing data with MS. Turned most of them off.

    • subedii says:

      I don’t get it either. Almost nobody is covering the privacy angle, or even bothering telling new users about the crazy amount of personal data it’s collecting and how to disable it. To me that strikes me as way more worrying than the stuff about shared wi-fi passwords.

      Given all the major companies that have been hacked and leaked ridiculous amounts of pretty crucial private data over just the past few months, I’d have been iffy on that proposition to begin with even if I did trust MS to have it all.

  42. jrodman says:

    I looked through this article, and failed to determine why I would want this over Windows 7, on my gaming PC. (My job is on a mac, and my personal crap is on Linux.)

    • trjp says:

      Were you expecting a personalised guide for just your needs? Bit selfish, no?

      This is the real world, you’re a grown-up, you need to make your own decisions now – if you can’t work-out why you might want to upgrade your PC at some point-in-time, you probably shouldn’t be using one.

      • Geebs says:

        Oh trjp, you are such a card. Bless.

        I’d also like to know precisely the same thing: because Windows is no use to me for anything beyond playing games (yay) and running Access (ptooie), I would be interested in coverage of how it performs as a gaming OS.

        What I’ve seen so for isn’t very compelling – so far it’s benchmarked worse than Win7, which is marginally slower than Win8 but not enough to make it worth putting up with Win8’s interface nightmare.

        • trjp says:

          It’s a bit much to ask someone for a detailed pros/cons on an OS which has been available to a small number of people for a few hours at most.

          Previews of Windows OSes are notoriously unreliable in terms of issues like performance and compatibility (there’s usually a biggish step between the last of the previews and the ‘gold’ release code) – but then there is also usually a big gap between the ‘gold’ code and something you’d want to put on your main PC (at least 1 Service Pack but often the whole release!!)

          There have been versions of windows which were must-haves (98, 2000, 7, 8.1 IF you needed touch) and versions no-one needed (ME, Vista, 8) – which 10 will be remains to be seen but it sort-of fits into that model of

          98 was 95 polished-up
          7 was Vista polished-up
          10 might be 8.1 polished-up

          It’s a big ask tho – 8 was a bit of a carcrash, I’d argue NO-ONE needed 8 or 8.1 unless they wanted touch support – whether 10 makes a good case is more about “it’s been a LONG time since 7” than anything else.

          You won’t get answers to all the questions on launch day tho – hell, you might not get them for months.

          NO-ONE should update their main PC to a new OS on release EVER – there is NEVER a case for doing it tho, because the information you need to support/stability etc. just isn’t available and the big issues can and will take time to discover.

          How’s that for “Should you upgrade” advice?

          • Geebs says:

            I really kind of miss the days when an OS update could reasonably be expected to generally improve the computing experience.

            Ah well, in the immortal words of Mick Jagger, “If you start me up / You’d better perform a detailed assessment of my pros and cons, and determine whether I work with your preexisting applications, before deciding whether I’m right for you or your organisation / because downgrading will be at best time consuming and at worst impossible.”

      • Laurentius says:

        Well, I can’t speak for jrodman but I read this comment close to me feeling as I read this article and while Alec says we should get Win10 I really don’t see why this version is superior to Win7 I’m currently using and is working fine.

      • jrodman says:

        No. The glib tone was directed at windows 10 really, not the article.

      • jrodman says:

        Actually, scratch that.

        This article says “Should I upgrade to Windows 10?” However, I don’t feel that it really comes close to answering the question.

        Therefore, it’s a totally valid criticism, your crap attitude notwithstanding.

        • trjp says:

          The title does not contain the word ‘today’ – people seem to be wanting to know if now is the time – is it NOW NOW NOW mummy.

          The article is taking a more relaxed view of “hey, there’s probably stuff in here you’ll want” – it’s been a LONG time since 7 arrived (and it’s arguably a polished-up Vista which makes it REALLY old) and it’s likely to be a while before anything new arrives – so you’re probably gonna jump to 10 at some point I reckon

          But NO-ONE can tell you about it today – not possible, information unavailable.

          But as it’s free, you could try it – just image your system, opt-in, wait, upgrade, try-it and it it sucks, return to the image – easy peasy lemon squeezy

          • jrodman says:

            Except I read all the text, and they never got around to the stuff I might want. I think that was pretty clear.

  43. trjp says:

    The “wuauclt.exe /updatenow” command is exactly the same as going into Control Panel->System/Windows Update and using “Check for Updates Now”

    It’s forcing Windows to check WU rather than waiting for it’s next scheduled check, and it won’t hurry your Update along much (depending on how often you have Windows set to check WU I guess)

  44. biggergun says:

    Switched to Ubuntu completely a couple of months ago. Somehow it got to the point where it is genuinely more reliable, more comfortable and less convoluted than Win 7, not to mention 8 and 10. All the games are there (granted, I play mostly indie stuff these days, but still). Currently I have Crusader Kings, Transistor, Cradle, Feist and Shadowrun installed. Xbox One gamepad works out of the box (needed drivers in Win 7). Everything just works. Sorry, MS.

  45. Sin Vega says:

    Does it have that infuriating Windows 8.1 habit of pretending it’s doing/has done things that it clearly isn’t/hasn’t?

    Does it let you try to fix problems you’ve spotted without first dicking around for ages trying to detect them itself?

    (related) Does it let you reset the network adapter without rebooting the whole system?

  46. Asurmen says:

    I upgraded. So far it’s not “Wow omg amazing”. It seems like Win 7 to me. Overall I can’t complain.

  47. Greg Wild says:

    I talk with guys responsible for Windows 10 roll outs on an almost daily basis. Just about all of them tell me “Wait a few months”.

  48. Papageno says:

    For some reason I have yet to see the icon in my system tray (Windows 7 Ultimate x64 here). Is there a page on Microsoft’s website where I can ask what gives?

  49. cylentstorm says:

    I’ll still be taking the “wait and see” approach, thank you. If I decide that I actually want or need a replacement for 7, it will most likely have something to do with penguins in a dual-boot scenario.