Windows 10: Yes or No?

Back at the beginning of June, Microsoft announced the release of Windows 10 as a free upgrade to Windows 7, 8 and 8.x.  Free upgrades are always appreciated, but with any operating system change, the words tend to be mutually exclusive.

So, the most common questions I hear of late are, “Should I upgrade to Windows 10?  Should we roll out Windows 10 to our users?”  Just one time in my life I wish Microsoft would provide me with the confidence to say “Yes, of course you should upgrade.”  Unfortunately, it is never quite that simple.  Let me give you a few of the facts:

  • The free Windows 10 upgrade will be available until July of 2016.
  • Windows 10 is now the only version of Windows available from Microsoft.
  • Not all hardware is compatible with Windows 10.
  • Not all software is compatible with Windows 10 and many vendors have yet to release compatible updates.
  • In many cases, Windows 10 drivers have not or will not be available for some hardware.
  • Home versions of Windows 7 or 8 are automatically upgraded to 10.

There is some confusion about upgrading directly from Windows 8 to Windows 10 for free.  The simple truth is that Windows 8 is freely upgradable to Windows 8.1, and Windows 8.1 is freely upgradable to Windows 10.  So yes…8 to 10 is free, if you don’t count your aggravation.  Manufacturers will still be shipping computers with Windows 8 or 10, but most of the new Windows 8 computers being shipped are actually downgraded to Windows 7.  Bye, bye, Windows 8.

Now here are some things to consider when making the decision (my advice included);

  1. *If you are a Windows 8.x user in a small environment (residential, SOHO, small business) and have been unhappy with 8, upgrade to 10.
  2. If you are a Windows 7 user in a similar environment with equipment that is over 18 months old, stay put and wait until your next machine upgrade.
  3. *If your environment includes a mix of Windows 7 and 8, operating on a number of workstations, consider upgrading all machines to Windows 10.
  4. If you’re starting a business, and/or opening a new office location, and have the luxury of starting fresh, roll out Windows 10 on all machines.

*(Asterisks, you’ve gotta love ‘em) Be advised, when you attempt to upgrade, the process includes Windows 10 compatibility-testing.   While not perfect, you’ll get a report that lists incompatible hardware and applications.  Make sure to read the details.  If you see anything that plants a seed of doubt in your mind, do not continue with the upgrade.  You can wait a month and try again.

My best advice is to work with your IT consultant or managed services provider to plan and perform these upgrades, to make certain you have a smooth transition.  “Managed” computers are only updated after the update(s) go through an extensive testing and vetting process.  Only approved patches, hot fixes, and updates are installed; the installation is managed to afford the least noticeable impact to the end user.

Your managed services provider will be able to migrate you to Windows 10 when the time is right for you and your business…not for Microsoft.