The long wait is over and Windows 10 has finally been released. The question on everyone’s mind is whether or not to upgrade. This is a highly unusual operating system release by Microsoft standards. Previous operating system upgrades were sold to the end users. This time, Microsoft is actually giving it away free (for a limited time). People can choose to perform the upgrade as they wish. That said, we would recommend a go-slow approach (for various reasons). We will elaborate here, but first a history lesson.
Microsoft has had a good track record on operating systems with a few notable exceptions. Remember Vista? Microsoft attempted to usher the world into a mainstream 32/64 bit operating system after a long successful run with Windows XP. It was a major upheaval and it was not well received. Many of the peripherals we invested in were incompatible with Vista (particularly the 64-bit version) and manufacturers were slow to respond with updated drivers. As a result many users were disappointed, while others seemed to have no problem. The business supply channel demanded that manufacturers continue to ship computers with Windows XP and that’s exactly what happened. As a result, Microsoft had to extend support for Windows XP far longer than they intended.
After that disappointment, Microsoft was far more careful. The developers of the next version of Windows were constantly reminded of their previous failure and Microsoft was driven to get this one right. They heard us loud and clear and delivered what many consider their finest operating system yet – Windows 7. It was enthusiastically received and it performed well. Yet many don’t realize how close it was to Windows Vista. Yes, the poor maligned Windows Vista took all of the slings and arrows for the eventual migration from the old, limited 32-bit kernel to the new, robust world of 64-bit computing. By then the peripheral manufacturers had caught up and the world was ready for Windows 7.
Even as Windows 7 was being released, however, Microsoft saw the writing on the wall when it came to touch screens and tablet computing. Apple was running away with the market with the ubiquitous iPad and Google wasn’t far behind with the Android operating system. If Microsoft wanted to compete in this arena, the current operating system design would simply not work. The clickable areas of the screen would need to be made larger to accommodate fingers rather than mouse cursors. Additionally, swiping and scrolling on a touch screen was much different than the traditional desktop interface. Microsoft saw this as both a challenge and an opportunity. Imagine a world where you can do all of your current PC tasks while also having the benefits of touch-screen functionality. Thus Windows 8 was conceived.
Though essentially an upgrade to Windows 7, Windows 8 was not well received. Many believe Microsoft’s mistake was their drive to make everything work exactly the same – phones, tablets, computers, and even servers. Forcing users into a “tiled” interface was bad enough, but taking away the hallmark Start menu was a bridge too far. Many were just plain confused by the new interface. Seemingly common features, once two clicks away, were now accessed by swiping just right and tapping three or four times. The business channel immediately responded by demanding that manufacturers continue to ship computers with Windows 7 preinstalled. The manufacturers complied and have largely continued to do this on all non-touch devices in the business channel. It was Déjà vu all over again.
Early rumors of the next version of Windows started swirling shortly thereafter. It was said that Microsoft heard our complaints and was returning the start menu. This was already done to a small degree with the free Windows 8.1 upgrade though not to everyone’s satisfaction. Many opted to install aftermarket start menu tools. Windows 10 promised to put things right – much closer to Windows 7 than Windows 8. I can confirm that Microsoft has listened and a useful, albeit different start menu is back in Windows. Hooray!
So this leads to the main purpose of this post – what should you do about Windows 10? The short answer: nothing. If you are one of our clients, our official position is that it is not yet supported. It’s not because we’re a bunch of knuckle-dragging Luddites – quite the contrary. We are actively using it on test machines (not our production computers) and the early returns indicate that this is going to be great. Our reluctance to push this out to our client base is actually quite pragmatic. We need to test and train with the new operating system. Further, we already know of incompatibilities that would cause significant problems. We expect the issues to be hashed out soon but until then, we are preventing the automatic updates from occurring.
We realize that you are excited. We will let you know when we consider Windows 10 to be an officially supported operating system for our clients. Until then, feel free to update computers we don’t support (home computers, etc.) but please refrain from upgrading any supported business computers. Let someone else run point on this one!