Saturday, December 12, 2015

Windows 10 - Did Microsoft actually get this one right?

I received a phone call from one of my clients back in August.  It seems she upgraded her computer to Windows 10 and could no longer find her way around the system, couldn't find her desktop shortcuts, and could not get her email to work.  While I had been involved with a beta test of W10 with one of my other clients, I had not yet sat down to use Microsoft's latest Windows version, let alone provide client support! I scheduled an on-site visit to help her straighten things out.

All-in-all I was favorably impressed.  Microsoft's upgrade practically installed itself on this 70-something grandmother's PC with hardly more than a click or two required on her end.  Her biggest problem came in not knowing how to navigate the new interface without a few tips from her helpful tech support guy, me!

One week ago, I finally got around to installing Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade on one of my Windows 7 Professional computers so I can give click-by-click client support when the need arises.  Personally, I have never felt the need to upgrade immediately to the "latest and greatest" if the "tried and true" was still doing the job properly.  Experience has taught me that waiting for the price to come down on the latest PC configuration or waiting for "bug fixes" or service packs on software was well worth it in both cost and aggravation savings!

Seven days into the experience and I must admit that I like the look and feel of W10.  Yes, there are a few things that I don't like, but so far none of them are deal breakers.  The interface is smooth and intuitive.  The subdued color schemes calm my ADD-riddled brain.  The inherently slow-as-death (by today's standards) PC that I am using (Pentium Core2 1.8GHz processor, 4GB RAM) seems to respond a tad faster than it did under Windows 7.  Best of all, the programs that were installed prior to the update are still there and working flawlessly under W10.

The actual upgrade process was relatively easy.  Clicking the "Get Windows 10" icon in the system tray area of the task bar starts the process.  This icon will appear automatically on Windows 7 or 8 computers that are up-to-date with Microsoft Updates and whose hardware is compatible with Windows 10.  (This only applies to computers that are not part of a "domain" network.  If your PC belongs to a domain it must be updated manually.)  You are given the choice of updating now or just downloading the update and installing it later.  Make this choice carefully - once the update starts it cannot be stopped and will take one hour or more depending upon your Internet connection speed.

In my case, the download and installation took about one and a half hours.  The system restarted at various points in the upgrade without any intervention on my part.  (There is nothing that wastes more time than an upgrade that requires a manual reboot before continuing to the next step!)  Once completed, I had a working Windows 10 computer, but I was not pleased!  My desktop and documents were nowhere to be found!  This PC was configured for several different users, but is usually logged-in as a user named "server," since it  hosts some shared folders and backup services for my network.  While I could find the upgraded user folders for every other user, the "server" files were missing!  I started going through the process of rebuilding the desktop and reinstalling software, mildly cursing Microsoft for losing my stuff, when I needed to restart the computer to complete an install.  After the reboot, the login screen listed the four users that were originally on the machine prior to the upgrade . . . so I clicked on "server" . . . and my previous Windows 7 desktop appeared.  My documents were back, and everything was right with the world!  What happened?

I recalled that the first time W10 came up at the end of the upgrade, there was no choice of user given.  I assumed that it came up as the same user it was using at the start of the upgrade in Windows 7.

Don't assume anything!  Restart one more time after the upgrade finishes if you have things missing!

I spent the rest of my spare time last weekend learning more about the features of Windows 10 and getting comfortable with the new look and feel.  For those who liked Windows 8 or 8.1 you will still find "apps" and "tiles" that work the same as they did in 8.  For those who could not function without a "Start" button (like me) you will find the W10 icon at the far left of the task bar works very much like the Start button, with a handy alternate menu for administrative tasks if you right-click it.

Of course, there are some big changes with Microsoft's new browser, Edge, embedded in W10 like spots on a dalmatian.  (Don't worry, you can still use IE, Firefox, Chrome, or "whatever" as your default browser!)  My jury is still out on Edge . . . perhaps that will be a subject for a future blog!

In the meantime . . . if you feel the need to upgrade you probably can . . . as long as you are not on a domain network or are using old software that may not work under W10.  (Check with your software vendors first to ensure compatibility!)  Feel free to email me if you have questions or need help feel free to shoot me an email: brad(at)