When should I upgrade?
Since the release of Microsoft’s new OS, Windows 10, many of our customers have asked us when they should upgrade. Our answer: not now, but soon. Here we set out some great reasons for upgrading, some things to watch out for and provide our tips for planning your rollout.
One of the most immediately obvious benefits of Windows 10 is improved performance even on modest hardware. Boot-up time is significantly faster, and better hardware acceleration and other optimisations make it feel smoother. Power management has also been tweaked, meaning batteries may last a little longer. While not worth upgrading for alone, stronger performance is always an attractive bonus.
An OS for all devices
Microsoft is delivering on its promise to make Windows an “everywhere OS”, pushing ahead with flagship releases Windows 10 Mobile and Universal Apps. Much like Windows 8 and Windows 8 Mobile, the apps for both are almost identical code-wise, meaning Excel on your phone will run just like Excel on your desktop. With Continuum, now available for tablets and on the horizon for mobiles, this cross-device integration will be even more impressive. By just plugging your tablet or phone into your desktop, Windows will automatically morph its display to mimic a PC layout.
Rejoice — the Start Menu returns
While the glorious return of the Start Menu is sure to make for many happy upgraders, a current bug causes shortcuts to disappear and search to break if you have more than 512 applications installed. Fortunately, Microsoft have addressed this in an update currently available for Insiders, upping the app count to 2048. This is surely enough for most users but it still seems a strange limitation for what should be the most modern operating system available. That said, the new Start Menu makes a welcome return to the OS and is sure to please users who were put off by 8’s tablet style offering.
Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri, Windows 10 virtual assistant Cortana is as well built as you’d expect and packed with plenty of useful functionality. While obviously targeted more toward mobile than desktop users, Cortana is fully integrated with PCs allowing you to search (both the web and your files and apps), manage your calendar and check weather and traffic with just a few words. Most satisfyingly, its voice recognition software is top notch and with reasonably quiet conditions, you shouldn’t have any problems being understood.
While Microsoft have promoted Windows 10’s almost constant, automatic updates as a major selling point — ensuring your system is always as up to date as it needs to be — it can also cause some headaches. While most updates probably won’t create major problems, the fact that Microsoft has thus far been loathe to release patch notes makes it much more difficult to determine the reason why your favourite app has just stopped working properly. The concept of an “OS for life”, evolving throughout the years, is still an attractive one — just as long as it’s not prioritised over stability.
Some of your apps might break
While most of your software and hardware that worked with Windows 7 or 8 should work with 10, if you rely on anything that requires old drivers, particularly from the XP era, you’re likely in for some trouble. The same goes for 16-bit applications, unless you opt for 32-bit Windows 10. If this is the case, you may be better off waiting to see if the creators of the software and hardware you use are planning to update for the new OS.
It’s also worth noting that Windows 10 features a new web browser, Edge. With Internet Explorer 8 or 9 no longer supported, older websites that depend on them may need to be updated for the new OS.
So when should I upgrade?
Or as The Smiths put it: how soon is now? Microsoft is currently offering free upgrades to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 until July 29, 2016. They’ve also scheduled a major update addressing many initial niggles by February 2016 to all. So if you’re hedging your bets, the right time is after February and before July 29, 2016.