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Microsoft---free Windows 10

Chris James

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"If it ain't broke, don't fix it." How many time have you heard that old saw? Announced today: MS is giving away Windows 10.

I went from Windows 7 to XP some years back and the last time my computer fried itself the new one came with Windows 8. Took a while to adjust, but unlike many of you, this is just a fancy typewriter to me so who needs all those apps?

I am leery of anyone who offers me something complicated for free. Microsoft has had lots of issues in the past with new operating systems (Vista anyone?) so why give away something that has not been market tested?

I have rejected the Windows 8.1 upgrade since I saw that it was mostly cosmetic. Win 10 is supposed to work on all levels of devices guaranteeing that when one crashes so will they all. But I don't even have a cellphone or any other electronic device. Call me silly but I just don't have the need.

Someone out there tell me why I should consider Windows 10 before they have time tested it and worked out the bugs.

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Don't do it, Chris! If you have any tech device that you're happy with, keep it and don't change! Best advice ever. New ones always come with kinks. I don't car how improved they claim they are, and how many bells and whistles they come with, all those'll do is keep you awake at night. Don't mess with a new system if there's nothing wrong with the old one.

I've been burned enough, as probably you have, to know this is good advice!


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1. Windows XP was Windows version 5.1, built on windows 2000.

2. Windows Vista was Windows version 6.0.

3. Windows 7 was version 6.1.

4. Windows 8 was version 6.2.

5. Windows 8.1 was version 6.3.

6. Windows 10 will be version 6.4.

Each release of Windows since Vista has been enhancements to the same core operating system. They are all "enhancements" of the same code base. Which is interesting, but not my main point. Just file it away for a moment.

Windows Vista was a terrible operating system, because it a. Had limited driver support, meaning your printer suddenly stopped working when you upgraded from XP to Vista; b. Had rotten graphics/display performance because most video cards of the time weren't up to the performance required; and c. Had major bugs, most of which were caused by a bloated code base required for backward compatibility.

Those factors turned into Vista getting the worst reputation of any Windows OS since Windows Me, a reputation that it held until the release of Windows 8.

Windows 7 was nothing more than a point-level upgrade to Vista. It didn't really add anything new. It just supported more devices and fixed the driver issues, had a rewritten graphics engine so it "acted" faster, and had a stripped down code base to improve performance. It was really just a service pack. It was a very good service pack, though.

Bear with me.

Windows 8 was released. Again, it's an upgrade to 7, with the glaring revamp of the user interface, and a lot of removal of bloated code that wasn't needed anymore (because they stopped supporting windows XP - aged code). The code base is very, very similar to Windows 7. But the removal of the start menu (easily replaced with a $5.00 piece of software) caused it to gain the worst reputation of any Windows release. Ever. And it was deserved, because the "modern" interface is terrible. And yes, it did have bugs. Because the guy running the Windows division within Microsoft was a major tool, who rushed the beta and did not allow bugs to be fixed before release.

Windows 8.1 was a bandaid, released by the people brought in to replace the idiot, and it fixed a lot of the bugs and corrected some user interface issues. Like spackling on a "start menu" that isn't really a start menu. Things like that.

Windows 10 will be a major service pack to windows 8.1.

It will put the (real) start menu back. It's different than the 7 start menu, but it's there in spirit and is quite functional, unlike the 8.1 start menu.

It will allow multiple windows of the same application (which was a major fail in Windows 8 and 8.1).

It will allow you to boot to the desktop, skipping the Modern interface.

It will restore the windows 7 search functionality lost in Windows 8/8.1, this time with voice-activated capability.

It will include a very, very nice web browser. It's code named Spartan, and it really rocks. It far exceeds Internet Explorer 11 or 12 and is reputed to be better at memory management than google chrome (which is saying a lot).

Now here's the kicker: you paid for each and every upgrade to your operating system, even if it was a bad upgrade. They charged you full price for the upgrade, too, until Windows 7. Microsoft had never even OFFERED upgrade pricing until Windows 7, and they only did that to get people moving off the XP bandwagon and skip Vista.

NOW, they want you off Windows 7 (because it is aging), and they want you off Windows 8 (because it sucks) and they want you off 8.1 (because it sucks too). Windows 8 and 8.1 are costing Microsoft dearly from lost sales and because original equipment manufacturers refuse to let go of 7, which is delaying their ability to retire it, and because providing tech support for 8 and 8.1 issues is costing them a lot of money. And 7 is expensive internally because it's another set of headaches, support-wise. If everyone is running the most current OS offered, Microsoft makes more dough. Simple as that.

And so they are willing to upgrade you for free, for the first time ever, to get you running a current operating system.

I've been running the preview release of 10 for a while. It's fast, even on my 6 year old laptop. It has supported every device I've plugged into it. It handles memory really well and for a preview release, is pretty crash free. Since it doesn't have all the features of the final release, I can't say it will be perfect right out of the box, but it's certainly better than the Windows 7 preview version was at the same stage in its development.

So why should you upgrade?

- your machine will run faster and more reliably than it does under Windows 8.

- when Windows 8 and 8.1 are retired (which will be at the latest the middle of 2016), you won't have to worry about being out of support.

- it truly is an improvement, in many ways, to the user interface in Windows 8. Most of those improvements are being implemented by restoring functionality lost with the update from 7 to 8.

Sorry this was so long, but you asked...

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I concur with Hoskins on most of his points. With Windows 8, Microsoft basically ignored desktop users in a misguided view that everyone would instantly be changing to touch screen computing on a telephone. Windows 8.1 was an attempt to fix some of the omissions (and it is worth a free upgrade) including revival of the task bar.

From my experience evaluating Windows 10, it appears to have combined the stability of Windows 7 along with the touch-screen capabilities. Plus, unlike Windows 8 and 8.1, it allows all the apps to be run in windows (though I've found and reported a few glitches) alongside any desktop applications that one might be running. For example, Solitaire in Windows 8 and 8.1 had to be run full screen; in Windows 10, it can be run in a separate window that can be resized, plus it can be minimized to the task bar.

Actually, I would recommend Windows 10 today over Windows 8 and 8.1 but not yet over Windows 7. One problem with Windows 10 is that new builds, which occur approximately monthly, require a clean installation that takes a couple of hours -- by clean, I mean that document and such files are retained but major programs such as Office and Adobe Photoshop have to be reinstalled. The upcoming build may not require that much in changes, but who knows?

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I agree that installing the tech previews is premature unless you're installing it in a virtual machine or on a PC you don't care about. It's still too twitchy and I don't think they've really finalized the upgrade/installation process yet. We won't see that until late summer. We won't even have a release date for the release-to-manufacture (aka the final version that gets distributed for "real") until the Build Conference in April.

And yeah, I've found some glitches too. The nice thing (for me) is that I can pretty much banish the modern apps and work in the desktop environment (pretty much, there are some gotchas there still).

Also, Chris, you're right that installing a new OS on day 1 after release is a pretty bad idea. I usually wait at least two months, usually something like three or four months, before I start rolling out a new OS to clients or even for production in my shop.

So I should amend and say - yes, it's going to be worth it to upgrade, but I would wait until a couple of months after the final release is available.

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Oh and by the way - I slagged Vista in my post for it's troubles on release. After the last service pack (minor update), and running on modern hardware, it's not a bad operating system at all. It's pretty responsive, pretty stable, and pretty functional.

I don't think windows 8/8.1 will ever get to that point. So, to Chris's first sentence (if it ain't broke, don't fix it): it IS broke, and fixing it is a good idea. :)

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Don't do it, Chris! If you have any tech device that you're happy with, keep it and don't change! Best advice ever. New ones always come with kinks. I don't car how improved they claim they are, and how many bells and whistles they come with, all those'll do is keep you awake at night. Don't mess with a new system if there's nothing wrong with the old one.

I've been burned enough, as probably you have, to know this is good advice!


Good advice indeed, although it is nearly impossible for me to find new ribbons for my Remington Upright these days and I still think carbon paper is an invention of the devil. I thank God every day for his gift to us of White-Out.

More seriously, though, I'm with Chris and Cole in sharing a deep suspicion of Microsoft's ability to crawl out of the hole they seem to have dug themselves--and us--into. When they dumped XP, after I had taken so long to learn how to use it, I decided to head for higher ground and now I view these twists and turns (death throes?) of Microsoft from the perspective of an Apple iMac and its OSX that gently updates constantly and discreetly in the background, all the while it is apparently on duty around the clock protecting me from nasty viruses and intruders. My only wish, born in the days of white bond paper, lined notebooks, and a good reliable pen, is for a transparent medium that does not require me to learn to troubleshoot and make repairs. I learned to drive cars back when flat tires were a fact of life and I've jacked and wrenched and changed enough tires and patched enough inner tubes to be satisfied that I have done my penance and earned my time out from the rigors of having to pull over to the side of the road and fix some damn thing every fifty or so miles. Likewise with computer-assisted living and working and entertaining myself.

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Eloquent appraisal, James. I'm just like you. I want trouble-free, hands-off computer use. I've heard people for years advocating Mac products. But I learned on a PC, and talk about changing horses midstream for a non-tech-savvy codger... It seems to be better putting up with MS's putrid businesses tactics—directed towards making more money rather than providing quality products—than trying to learn an entirely new way of doing what I can now almost do.


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Well, my experience has been a little different:

Early Windows was not an operating system at all, merely a user interface bolted onto the underlying operating system, which was MS-DOS and not built for multi-tasking. Windows is inherently designed for multi-tasking and so early Windows was terrible.

Windows 95 was Microsoft's first attempt at a Windows Operating System but it wasn't, not reatlly, there was too much MS-DOS code still surviving in its bowels. It was terrible.

Windows 98 was a lot better, some of the worst MS-DOS code was gone.

Windows Millennium Edition was terrible but at about the same time Microsoft had a go at walking away from its past with Windows 2000, but unfortunately it didn't have enough driver support so most of us couldn't use it.

Windows XP was arguably Microsoft's first working operating system and everyone liked it (it's easy to be better than what had gone before...)

Windows Vista was terrible again.

Windows 7 was fine

Windows 8 was terrible again.

Windows 10 if Microsoft keep up their pattern should be a goodie. Contrary to one of the posts above, I've read somewhere that Windows 10 is not yet another tweak of the code used in previous versions but the first of a completely new codebase which will then be incrementally updated free of charge in a similar way to Apple or Android.

Well, that's what I've heard, anyway...

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In yesterday's webcast on Windows 10, Microsoft said it will be using the exact same code in all of its supported environments: laptops/desktops, phones, its tablets and other hand-held devices. I suspect that this consistent coding would have required a reworking of their entire OS's.

In other words, Windows 10 should be a lot more than cobbling together disparate pieces of code.

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I think I'll pass on being their unpaid Alpha tester.

In fact, I think it is time to give Micro-shaft the finger of disrespect.

7 was OK but 8 was a POS. I'm not impressed at the direction they are moving.

I am in the process of building a new machine.

My next box won't have a Micro-Shaft bug orgy under the hood or built in back doors for hackers and goverenment spies.

Starting from the bios out- it's going to be all Linux.

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I 'used' Windows 8 for a few days, but only so I could update to the just released 8.1. With that, all of the sticky/smeary screen options turned off, and Classic Shell installed, just about acceptable. It doesn't always do the right thing on updates, and I've had to remove a Sony utility but that might be Sonys fault, not Microsofts. I probably will update to Windows 10 as the laptop does not have much software installed and the biggy, I have the disc anyway.

Windows 8 though was horrid - and in 3 or 4 days, I had to clean the laptop screen off of fingermarks twice.

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