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Windows 10 Review

As a user of Windows since it first began back in 1985, I like to think that I know Microsoft pretty well. Microsoft and I have a love/hate relationship. For my purposes, a Windows laptop and Windows PC are the only viable options for me and my business. However, it always feels like Windows is ‘testing’ how much I’ll put up with. You might feel the same way.

Earlier this week (end of January 2016) I was forced to upgrade to Windows 10… well, I had to do a full reinstall on my laptop and figured I may as well do the full upgrade while the laptop was wiped and (hopefully) nothing more could go wrong.

The reason for my position? Internet Explorer 9 and 11 decided that it was only going to connect to Bing and MSN. Which in itself wouldn’t be a huge problem, as I don’t use IE, except you wouldn’t believe how many systems that little glitch affects. Installing new programmes, uninstalling programmes, opening links from Excel and Word, updating anti-virus… Anyhow. The point is, Windows 10 became the best way to move forward.

You might be asking yourself why I didn’t upgrade back in November when Windows 10 first came out? Well there are a number of reasons.

1) I was busy
2) I don’t trust Microsoft not to mess things up. Especially after so many reports of problems from family and friends who suddenly had no computer for days because of ‘upgrade glitches’
3) I’m a big believer in ‘if it ain’t broke don’t fix it’ and I wanted to wait for any major problems to come to light before even attempting to waste a day of my life.

So here’s what I think to Windows 10.

Upgrade? No way.

Because of the aforementioned Internet Explorer glitch, I couldn’t download the ‘simple’ upgrade at all. Having tried every work around I could find I ended up calling the ‘Microsoft Experts’…

Microsoft Experts

I lost the will to live after talking to the tenth ‘Microsoft Expert’ at their call centre. I think they were using Skype to receive the calls, because the line quality was awful. Trying to explain to several different people (ten of them in the end), that I had internet connection, all other internet browsers worked fine, and, no I don’t trust them to access my computer remotely, was a total nightmare.

PC World

At this point I gave up and called PC World who I bought the laptop from 4 years ago to see if they could get me my Windows Product ID. The reason? In order to reinstall Windows 7 without the disks you need your Product ID, which on a laptop is inconveniently placed on the underside of the laptop, right where your right knee goes when it’s on your lap. Guess what? The code is completely illegible from 4 years of sitting on my knee…

PC World were, in all honesty, a godsend. I’d called a local independent company for advice at the beginning of the week and he’d given me some fantastic advice, but I was trying to avoid being without my laptop for 24 hours really, so when the lovely Neil at PC World talked me through reinstalling Windows and was sensible, I told him that he’d just bought my loyalty.

Windows 7 was installed – let’s upgrade to Windows 10.

The installation

Even with my new, clean Windows 7 installation, upgrading was a bit of a nightmare. Downloading stopped partway through. Having looked online, this has happened to a lot of people – you need to download the install through a LAN cable.

The installation then stopped part way through because it was ‘looking for updates’. I had to cancel, restart, turn updates off on Windows 7 and try again.

Windows 10 then took 4 hours to install, update and configure. So not quite as simple as you’d expect.

The look

Once installed, it does look pretty fab. I got a little nervous when it opened up and the screen resolution was set to about 600 x 300 (in other words, zoomed in and very pixelated) and the settings to change it were unavailable. However, another half hour later and it sorted itself through some settings that were being updated.

Usability

If you’re used to a Windows computer, you’ll probably find most of the main features are pretty logical. The look may be different, but in general things work roughly the same.

Date and time

One BIG issue is the date and time. There is no UK date and time setting. The laptop has been set up for UK and GMT London settings, but apparently that means we can’t have the UK format ‘dd/mm/yy’ on the clock. The only UK option is 01-Jan-16. This is a minor issue, except it affects the default settings on all other systems from email programmes to Excel. I will be trying to find a solution, but that’s going to take more time.

Hibernate

I use hibernate a lot on my laptops, always have. I’m told it’s the safest way to keep your hard drive safe while travelling with the exception of a full shut down. Hibernate is not available – I’ve changed the registry (sorry for the slight lapse into jargon) and made all the settings changes that should make hibernate available, but nothing so far is working. Not happy.

Start/Windows

The new Start/Windows menu looks quite nice, but isn’t as easy to use as you would expect. There’s a lot of what I call ‘gumpf’ on the right of it that I haven’t yet taken the time to try and change (I’m still cross that hibernate isn’t working). There’s no longer a search box for programmes (sorry, now they’re called apps) to enable you to get to your ‘app’ quickly. It took me a little while to work out that you just have to start typing…

One last minor thing…

The colours. Fundamental things like the colour of the folders when you’re viewing your files are really pale and make it difficult to find what you’re looking for. I’m sure I’ll get used to it, but finding things easily is important for me – probably you too. Nothing you can do about it I imagine – but then may be there is a setting somewhere that can change this too. If only I could find it…

Overall, Windows 10 doesn’t seem to be that much of a change. There are some niggles, I’d be prepared for your computer to have a major melt down just in case. And make sure you wait til a quiet time to get everything installed. I think once I’d spent the time messing with Windows, upgrading to Ten, then installing all my programmes – sorry, APPS – it took about 12 hours.

And have your Valium ready if you ever need to call Microsoft support…

Good luck!

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