Windows 10 or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Upgrade

There it was.  In the lower right corner of my screen, a little Windows logo.  Clicking on it revealed a window that explained why I should upgrade to Microsoft’s latest offering.  I wondered if my computer had malware.  I mean, I did earn a living removing software that did exactly this from people’s PCs.  After several scans of my PC, and some reading, I learned that I didn’t actually have malware.  This was GWX or Get Windows 10.  I ran the upgrade and 30 minutes later, my PC had Windows 10 on it.

The Process

Windows 10 Media Creation Tool
The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool will allow you to select the language, edition and architecture you wish to install.

Upgrading was a very simple endeavor.  I simply started the upgrade and came back in 30 minutes to a fresh install of Windows 10.  As far as in place upgrades go, this was one of the smoothest I have ever witnessed.  All of my programs worked and all of my files were exactly where I left them.  Of course, I had some trepidation about in place upgrades from past experiences.  Using Microsoft’s Windows Media Creation Tool, I created an ISO and performed a clean install.

The nice thing about the Windows Media Creation Tool is that it will download the latest version of Windows 10 and use that for the ISO.  Gone are the days of installing Windows and spending a day and a half installing all of the security updates and patches to bring it up to current.

You have the option of performing a clean install, which is something I recommend.  You don’t need a product key to do so.  You do need to make sure that the edition of Windows 10 your’re installing matches the Windows edition you are upgrading from.  For example, if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 Home Premium, you need to make sure you’re installing Windows 10 Home.

During Setup

During setup, there are definitely some settings you want to tweak.  Out of the box, Windows 10 sends a lot of information back to Microsoft, more information than most people are comfortable with.  Some of these settings you might want to adjust before setup completes.

Get Going Fast

When you are setting up Windows 10, you do not want to use the Express Settings here.  Doing so will send all types of information to Microsoft.  Instead, let’s click on Customize Settings.

Customize Settings

Personalization

The first thing you notice is that you are agreeing to send Microsoft your “contacts and calendar details, along with other associated input data” in an effort to better personalize your input.  Basically, if you use Cortana, leaving this setting on may be helpful.

Second, the sending of typing and inking data to Microsoft would only be useful if you have a touchscreen and utilize the handwriting recognition.  If you do not have this feature, you can turn this setting off.  You also want to disable the setting to allow apps to use your advertising ID.  This setting allows Microsoft to send you more relevant advertisements.

If your PC is chained to the desk or does not have any location devices, there is no reason to leave the location setting enabled.

Customize Settings

Browser and Protection

The browser and protection settings only apply to Microsoft’s Edge browser.  It is safe to leave these settings enabled.  For the connectivity and error reporting section, we definitely don’t want to automatically connect to suggested open hotspots or networks shared by contacts.

Once you have set your privacy settings, you can proceed to the next step and create your account.  If you’re connected to the Internet, you will be asked to sign in with a Microsoft account.  For maximum privacy, you should use a local account instead.  You can do so by clicking on Skip this step at the sign in screen.

After Setup

Once you finally do get to the desktop, it’s time to go through all of the privacy settings.  To access these settings, click on Start then Settings.  Select Privacy in the window that opens.

Privacy General

These general settings reflect what was set when completing setup.  If you did not change anything during setup, this is where you would look to change it.  The only one that is worth keeping enabled is the SmartScreen filter as that can help protect you from malware.

Privacy Speech

It is best to disable the Getting to know you settings.  By default, Cortana will gather information about you from your speech, typing and inking.  Inking is Microsoft’s term for handwriting.  Keep in mind that this does disable Cortana and dictation.

Using Windows 10

Start-Menu-Comparison
Windows 7 Start Menu is on the left compared to Windows 10 on the right.

Windows 10 does bring back the Start Menu, but it’s not the same exact one from Windows 7.  In Windows 10, the Start Menu features live tiles.  If you’re good with keyboard shortcuts, this will not be a problem.  With Windows 10, you can press the Windows key on your keyboard and start typing what you’re looking for, then choose the desired item from the results list.  It functions the same as it did in Windows 8.1 but less clunky as you don’t have to switch to the Start Screen.

Windows 10 also continues with the performance improvements from Windows 8 and 8.1.  If you have an older PC, Windows 10 will likely run better on it than Windows 7 did, breathing new life into your old PC.  Overall, the OS feels very snappy compared to Windows 7 on the same hardware.

Windows 10 also has better support for multiple monitors.  You have the option of having a single taskbar, independent taskbars on each display or mirrored taskbars on each display.  Edge detection is also improved, allowing you to snap windows to the edge of a display that is adjacent to another display.

Windows 10 does a good job of creating a touch friendly interface without making navigation cumbersome with a keyboard and mouse.  Tablet mode gives you the somewhat familiar Start Screen interface and launches apps in a full screen interface.  You are still able to access all of your files and applications; navigation is optimized for touch input.

Overall, Windows 10 is what Windows 8 and 8.1 should have been.  With Windows 10 possibly being the last version of Windows, it’s about time Microsoft got it right.  Do you feel Microsoft got Windows 10 right?  Share your thoughts in the comments.