Friday, July 22, 2016

Readers with Windows 7, 8.1 urged to upgrade to Windows 10

A last week to do so for free

One year ago, along with many others, I immediately upgraded a Windows 7 laptop to the new Windows 10 system. The upgrade has been free for one year – and this year will end in one week from now.

Click to zoom in.

The upgrade will cost hundreds of dollars after the next week is over. Microsoft has tried hard to force the upgrade on the users (one of the recent reminders resembled the blue screen of death in order to tell you that your resistance is no longer considered quite friendly) but many people – and TRF readers – are clearly more Windows-conservative than I am. ;-)

I could get more accurate data but the Statcounter – partly shown in the screenshot above, within the browser – unmasks quite shocking data.

Windows 7 still beats Windows 10 by the number of users. I find it irrational. If you want to know, mobile users are some 23% of TRF readers (Android 10.5%, iOS 10.5%, Windows Phone 2%), OS X is 18%, iPad iOS is 3.5%, Android tablets 1.5%, Linux 7%, while the Windows desktop OSes (42% in total) are: 24% Windows 7, 12% Windows 10, 4% Windows 8.1, Windows XP 1.5%, Windows Vista 1%, Windows 8 and 8.1 RT below 0.5%.

Among Windows platforms, every month, I may also detect a few visits from Server 2003, Windows 2000, and Windows NT, and from ChromeOS, BlackBerry, and FreeBSD among the non-Windows OSes. Android users are almost perfectly divided to 3 groups Android 6, Android 5, and Android older.

People may have various reasons not to upgrade to Windows 10 but the reasons I could have shared were:
  1. Worry that the upgrade will fail heavily and the computer will be bricked.
  2. Fear that the upgrade will go OK but some important programs or functions won't work correctly.
  3. Anxiety that you won't be used to the novelties of the system.
Did I miss an important reason?

Bricking almost never an issue

Concerning the first reason not to upgrade, there are no risks for a vast majority of users. Tobias Sander bricked a computer that had some rather exotic, experimental but obsolete, hardware, the Revodrive. I haven't heard of a similar story elsewhere. The upgrade simply works for almost everyone. If you know that your computer and the basic hardware is something that must have been bought by thousands of people just in your state, you shouldn't think that you own something extraordinary.

Be sure that you won't need the computer for some 2 hours and it could be enough.

A year ago, my biggest hardware worry was the switchable dual graphics card. New drivers have been created and automatically installed. I haven't worried about drivers under Windows 10. The system is supposed to take care of these things. You should no longer install any drivers by yourself. That's how it should have worked for a long time, isn't it? I think that Windows 10 finally did it correctly.

It's extremely likely that if something goes wrong, you will still keep a functioning computer that will be able to revert to your current state. The Windows 10 upgrade process has procedures for that.

Programs work

The second worry is that some programs will stop working. None of them did for me. Things work without any reinstalls or reconfigurations. That includes things like Mafia I, Mafia II, Mathematica (I picked some "potentially complex" examples), and analogously all programs that don't start with "Ma". For most purposes, it is fair to imagine that Windows 10 is perfectly compatible with Windows 7 or 8 or 8.1 and the changes in Windows 10 are either "perfectly emulating what was before" or "cosmetic changes that change the UI".

No program has broken down for me. There is exactly one exception. Already in Windows 7, Windows desktop gadgets were deprecated and I had to install them by a trick. Now I had to do something like that again – I installed a third-party application that contains an identical binary code and does what it used to do (only up to Windows Vista legally, if I remember well). So if you think that the Windows desktop gadgets shouldn't have been killed, you will have to do the same thing.

Everything else just works. You may also install the programs in the old way. On top of that, you may install special Windows-8 and Windows-10 friendly apps in the Windows App Store, in a way that resembles what you already know from smartphones and tablets. Also, the computer will be trying to switch to authentication by your Microsoft/Live/Hotmail account but you may avoid this switch, too.

The user interface is simply better and nothing is worse

Some settings and options are added or moved to a different place and so on. Whether these changes are improvements may be debatable in some cases. But they're supposed to be improvements and most of them really are improvements, I am convinced – and it's logical because why would Microsoft make things deliberately worse? ;-)

Your desktop including the arrangement of the icons will be exactly the same as it is now in Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 after you upgrade. On top of that, perhaps gradually, I think that you will be learning that the "live tiles" which were moved to a non-intrusive i.e. Windows-7-philosophy-compatible place under the Start button (see the screenshot at the top) are a superior way to deal with lists of programs. You see the latest news there, the weather for 5 days, random pictures from your gallery, and so on. It's a convenient framework to run apps/programs.

Almost all functions that have migrated can be found very quickly and you easily retrain yourself to the new conventions.

Your system will speed up considerably

My laptop was bought in early 2012 and had Windows 7. Over the 2.5 years, it got slower. Before the upgrade to Windows 10, I thought that a new computer would have to be bought by 2017 because the performance would drop to unacceptably low levels. I no longer think so. This computer may very well continue past 2020. Poor producers of the technology must find different ways not to starve to death.

Sometimes I needed to wait for up to 5 minutes before I could work with the laptop after I turn it on – lots of waiting after the boot, and a huge waiting after the login to a Windows 7 account. Especially the time after you log in will be slashed considerably. You will deal with a "new computer". A part of the progress is due to the better optimization of Windows 10. A part of it is due to the system's being reinstalled from scratch. So lots of copies of old versions of files, temporary and cache files that are no longer useful etc. will be deleted, renewed, refreshed, and the impact of this refreshing is visibly beneficial.

I can't provide you with insurance against all things that go wrong – but I am pretty close to it. If I knew just a little bit more about your computer and programs, I would probably be willing to insure you. You should try it. Every computer in my broader family that was running Windows 7 or 8.1 was upgraded a long time ago (the technically amateurish users usually did the process themselves) and there were no problems. I am rather surprised that Windows 7 still beats Windows 10 among the TRF readers.

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