All told though, I’m much happier. Windows 10 exists in the background a little more than 8, and bar niggles it’s so much more coherent. I don’t have any real sense as yet that it’ll affect my gaming in any way, though the Xbox app does suggest more than just lip service to games support, even though it seems as though it might be redundant from day one. The most overtly visual aspects of the UI – i.e. the taskbar and Windows Explorer look fresh but subtle, and while the ‘flat’ icon style is very much keeping up with Apple and Android Joneses’, it doesn’t feel as though it wants to be OSX rather than Windows.
As an upgrade from Windows 8, it’s a no-brainer: it’s neater and it doesn’t require any unlearning. As an upgrade from Windows 7, it’s fresher-feeling but far less essential for traditional desktop use. It’s probably worth upgrading for the sake of it, as bar a confusing split between the modern Settings and olde worlde Control Panel, there aren’t any enormous or bewildering trade-offs now and stuff like improved window arrangement and Virtual Desktops may be useful if, like me, you have a bazillion applications running at any one time.
If, however, you’re running some manner of touchscreen PC, this is the best Windows has ever been for that stuff. It’s transformed my Surface, and I’m very much down with that being the future of laptops.
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. The OS launches today, and in my experience of the Insider builds, the upgrade no longer removes most of your applications during the process. After a 30 minute wait or so you should be presented with all your stuff stuff as-was. It may be that you aren’t given the option to upgrade for a few days – Microsoft is rolling it out in stages, which though perhaps understandable given server loads, does strike me as undermining their own launch day. Look out for an icon on your taskbar alerting you that the upgrade’s available though. You may be able to hurry things along by ‘reserving’ your update here or alternatively you can force the issue by manually downloading the OS and writing it to a flash drive.
There’s an easier and quicker method than that, but it doesn’t appear to work for everyone. Reportedly you can trigger the update process within Windows 7 or 8 by opening a command prompt with admin access (type ‘cmd’ into your start menu/screen, right click on Command Prompt and select ‘run as admin’) then typing wuauclt.exe /updatenow and hitting enter. Wait a couple of minutes and things might just start happening. You can also try going to Windows Update and manually checking for updates after doing this.
I’ve been running the Insider builds for several weeks ahead of launch, and even before it updated to the Release To Manufacture version last week, these builds recently proved stable enough that I erased my fallback Windows 8 partition without regret. There’s no going back now, and nor do I wish to go back. Yes, if you’re not using a hybrid tablet/laptop Windows 10 is more about fixing what was broken than pushing things forwards, and yes Modern and traditional applications still look and feel a little at odds with each other, but it’s a worthwhile update, a clear admission that Microsoft got it wrong last time, and the touchy stuff is still available if you want it. Gaming – specifically DirectX 12 – is still very much TBC until DX12 titles are released (or DX11 titles blessed with a major update) but importantly I can’t see any signs of trouble right now. So far launch day hasn’t brought any new updates, but there have been a few security fixes over the past couple of weeks. Fingers crossed, MS seem pretty on the ball with that stuff so far.
So: should you upgrade to Windows 10? Yes, basically. There are a few unknowns still, especially in terms of gaming, but I haven’t so much as entertained the idea of going back to Windows 8 or 7. Don’t expect to be especially excited, but do expect to feel far more comfortable.