When a new version of Windows comes along, I’m always cautious, waiting for a couple of service packs to go by, and the initial load of bugs to be hammered into submission. I think we’ve reached that point!
So, I installed Windows 10 as an upgrade to my existing Win7 Pro install on my laptop, which is Lenovo T420 with 8GB ram, an Intel i5 processor, and a normal HD, plus an add-in drive with the aid of a tray to replace the now next to useless DVD drive; it also has a USB3 card installed. Anyhow I downloaded the Media Creation Tool from Microsoft and made myself a USB installer to ease the transition, after all the worst thing when installing a new OS is that the network will go down half way through or something. Whilst the tool was downloading I also imaged the operating system drive – One of the most important things when building a system is to have a completely separate OS drive, well, OS and apps.
So backup done, and USB upgrade stick ready, I took the bull by the horns and hit upgrade; one hour later (ISH, I wasn’t paying that much close attention), the process had finished, and I was logging into the new OS for the first time. I’m pleased that the upgrade process kept a lot of my settings, including the taskbar position, and preserved my QuickLaunch bar – I love this feature in windows, and quite frankly it’s all you need to launch apps efficiently – the tiles, whilst nice, are a little overkill on a PC, although in a tablet environment, I can see them being very useful. BTW: If you want two add this back in, super easy – right click the task bar, Toolbars > New, then paste in “%userprofile%\AppData\Roaming\Microsoft\Internet Explorer\Quick Launch”.
Anyhow, some settings preserved, time to move onto disabling the shite, and beating the “Features” into submission with a finely tuned LART. When asked about Cortana in a PC / Laptop environment, say NO. Again, one of those features which could be useful in a tablet environment, but on the PC platform, just say no. There are good reasons to say no, with Cortana enabled, there are massive privacy leaks to Microsoft, not that for a moment I’ve pretty much anything to hide, but without protection, these companies will take over the world. When you go through the initial settings, just turn everything Cortana related off, it’s easy enough, and will not only increase privacy, but reduce any system and network overhead used.
Many things still exist, for example, you might expect Control Panel to have gone the way of the dinosaurs – be comforted that it’s still there, so are many of the other Windows 7 features – in fact when you don’t use the “Full screen start menu”, it’s almost Windows 7, so if you’re comfortable in the Win7 environment, then there’s nothing to be afraid of – take the plunge today, and go do the upgrade. It’s worth mentioning that the upgrade is free to legit users of Win7 and Win8, it does however expire at the end of July, a scant two and a bit months time, from the date of this article – after that it’ll cost around £100. You will eventually need to upgrade, as MS will cut off support for Win7 sooner, or later.
There are some annoying features – there are a bunch of apps installed which you’re never going to use, especially if you already have custom software on your system which performs that function. The XBox and Skype packages are two examples. The Win10 Games are the worst, like Win8 they’re hideous mutations of the Win7 and older versions of the old classics. You can download the Win7 games installer from Winaero.com, however in case that vanishes, here is a backup link.
Tiles. Love ’em or hate ’em, they’re here to stay. I think they come into play more with the tablet platforms, than with a PC or laptop, however I have made some use of ’em, but I think they need to be set to the smallest size, and on the laptop, I’m very much just using them as an extension to the start menu, instead of the normal “Pin to Start Menu” function of Win7, which I loved – I wish we could just have that back on the PC and get rid of the tiles, but there we go. As you can see by the screenie, they don’t (To me at least) look that hideous, well when shrunk down a little – I’ve left a “Medium” tile in there for comparison. An important thing to note here: In Win10, you’ve lost the ability to randomly click anywhere in the OS and “Add to Start”, for example – if you have a handy shortcut on your desktop, it won’t always let you add it, so you have to move it to your start menu (See further in the article for more details), then reboot, for it to be visible in the start menu, and only then will you be able to add it as a short-cut tile!
Some of the quick shortcuts are missing, for example when you right click on the “This PC” icon in the “All Apps” menu, you don’t get the usual menu you’d expect, and for that you’ll have to open up the “File Explorer”, and right click on “This PC”, for functions like “Manage”, and “Properties” etc.
Talking of “This PC”, MS are trying to shove OneDrive down your throats, however whilst I don’t actually think this is especially a bad thing, for me it won’t work – I use VPN – I simply don’t want my ISP spying on me, so my machines pop onto the interwebs from anywhere on the globe; not that I have anything to hide – I’m just not going to make it easy for our overly curious numptard overlord politicians (Read: Civil-Masters) to keep me under the thumb – the point being that OneDrive really doesn’t like VPN, and for me this is now a broken function – and come to think of it, I don’t think I’d trust MS with my stuff anyhow – so OneDrive – thumbs down from me. As a point the Apple ICloud works fine on VPN (After the initial logon) – someone tell me why I trust Apple more than MS again… there you go, I’m human after all.
You will need more information before diving right in to Windows 10, for that, plus some detailed tech guides, I’d recommend having a look through the Windows 10 guides on the How-To Geek page, also their Windows 10 FAQ – very handy reading! I’ll be doing the main desktop PC soon enough, however will leave it for another weekend, as doing the laptop, whilst not hard as such, was a steep learning curve.
As a general point – I only ever install an operating system on a computer the once – once it is installed and working, IMAGE THE DRIVE, that’s right, go spend some money on a USB3 drive, and use some software such as Ghost or Acronis TrueImage to take a snapshot of the drive, do this monthly. If it all goes tits up, you’re looking at a half hour restore operation, instead of spending all day reinstalling the OS and all those applications (Of which you probably won’t be able to remember most). The motto is BACKUP BACKUP BACKUP, it will save your stuff and time.
If you don’t want to splash the cash on commercial tools to backup, you can always download Hiren’s Boot Disk, and burn to a CD or USB device – Hiren’s contains many free utilities which do just as good a job as their commercial equivalents. If the official site for Hiren’s is down – you can use this backup link to download the disk iso, which is around 600mb in size.
As a general point, go have a read of my Basic Windows Security article, don’t get caught with your pants down…
… This is turning into a monster article, so if you want some tech instructions regarding removing the crap / bloatware which comes with Win10, then click more, as below: