Almost a month ago, I along with many other people around the world received a notification on my Windows 7 computer asking to reserve your FREE copy of Windows 10. I was very skeptical about it, since I’ve been against using Windows 8, and 8.1, but knowing that a free upgrade existed, I can’t say that I immediately took the risk, but thought I should give it a try.
Premise – Dislike to Windows 8/8.1
It may seem recently due to the infrequent posting of me and my blog posts, but a while ago I posted an article about Windows 8 and how to use it on VMWare Workstation, while at the same time giving my thoughts, dislike, and disappointment towards a pc-based operating system that seemingly worked best only on touch-screen devices. The dislikes of it were just too much that made me not like Windows 8, and made me not wanna use it, even if I purchased a touch-screen laptop or Windows Surface. Windows 8.1 however gave me slight enlightenment on the path Microsoft was going with the post-Windows 7 era, as they added back the start menu/button that everyone loved ever since Windows was around. Even then, I was still skeptical and distasteful towards Windows 8, and still kept using an operating system I was well-familiar with. However, now that Windows 10 is released, and with all the advertising Microsoft is doing, and knowing that Windows 8/8.1 was like Windows Vista, maybe I thought Windows 10 will be like Windows 7; a good OS, bad OS cycle.
An Unforeseen Switch? Am I Prepared?
You could say it was an unforeseen switch, and one that I took a risk in doing. I wasn’t all too sure what to expect since I didn’t take the time to really do all the research into Windows 10, its new features, and etc. since I didn’t really pay attention nor care as it still had the Windows 8 feel to it. However, they say “it’s familiar” to Windows 7, and seeing only some of the screenshots, I could see how it looked a little similar. But I knew that if I was actually going to perform this free upgrade, I would have to be prepared.
In order to be prepared, I had to make sure to back up. And I could just create a system restore point, which I did, but I knew that would not be enough. I decided to create a system image for the first time (does anyone actually backup these days?) and saw that I had a couple options. I could backup to a hard drive, or to CD/DVD. Having some spare hard drives from old laptops on hand, I thought I would be able to use those to store my system image on, but with my computer storage totaling to more than 800 GB (a combination of SSD, System Reserved, and HDD storage), it wasn’t enough for the two extra hard drives I had. Neither was it sufficient on a Clickfree backup hard drive as it kept disconnecting itself (do NOT buy these, they are unreliable and are not meant for regular external HDD usage. I was given this without choice, so I have an excuse…). So I had to buy myself a brand new external hard drive as I did not want to use my current 2TB Western Digital Passport or my 4TB Western Digital Book, and I ended up getting a 1TB Western Digital Passport Ultra to backup my precious Windows 7 system and create a system image onto that.
Once the backup process was done, and the upgrade process to Windows 10 was complete, everything with my computer looked…okay? At least that’s what it looked like at first…and I knew something was up when I couldn’t access the internet. I thought to myself, and looked at the status of my connection…it says I’m connected? But then it occurred to me that it was likely that my computer was still using Windows 7 drivers, and my LAN card was not up-to-date. Because my computer is custom built with an Asus Z77 Sabertooth motherboard, I needed to reinstall the drivers for my motherboard, and on top of that, reinstall the drivers for my EVGA GeForce GTX 760 graphics card. And because I couldn’t update from my desktop computer since I apparently somehow didn’t have an internet connection, I used my laptop to download the Windows 10 drivers for both my motherboard and graphics card, and used a flash drive to copy and run the install files. Apart from the drivers though…just like anything else that you get new, it’s definitely that time where you’re like, “gosh, this feels SO WEIRD“. Microsoft says it’s the same? Well…it is. I’m happy that I still have a start button, don’t really care for the Windows 8/8.1 start screen interface being part of the start menu, and now it’s almost as if I literally moved into a country I’m not even 1% familiar of. But with that, I knew I had to play around, look-around, Google, and watch some videos because this is like a “point of no return” situation for me, despite having the option to go back to Windows 7 before 30 days.
How Do I Use This?
As mentioned earlier in the first paragraph of this posting, I did not care to look into the details of Windows 10, know what’s interesting about it, and how it can “change my life”, so I needed to essentially take a tour of Windows 10, watch just a few short videos, and then explore on my own. I started with the video above, though the video went over the Technical Preview that was released on October 1, 2014. The video is dated at this point in time, as there were many updates made since its first build, so the next thing for me to look at was the Get Started app of Windows 10. There was stuff in there that was pretty useless to me, but the things about Windows 10 I found most intriguing were the Task View, the introduction of Microsoft Edge, and the different feel of the taskbar and slight change to the start menu.
I could really honestly care less about the useless stuff in the Store, I could care less about Microsoft’s own Siri known as Cortana, and even though I said it was intriguing, I also could care less about Microsoft Edge. I’m perfectly happy with Google Chrome, and will continue to use that over IE and Edge. I also don’t need the Xbox app since I don’t own an Xbox, all I’m concerned about right out-of-the-box is if I’m able to use my Adobe Creative Cloud programs, and if I can use the internet and do all my social networking activity, plus be able to continue to use Office 2010 (currently don’t care for Office 2013 or Office 365, but I may install it later…it means pouring out more funds though…). If all those things can work, I’m happy. And so far, everything seems to be running just fine.
Configuration, Personalizing, and Accessibility
I wanted everything to look almost exactly as it did in Windows 7. The image to the right shows how I customized my start menu to look, what tiles I wanted to use and easily access, and what programs I wanted on my taskbar. The File Explorer, Google Chrome, and Windows Media Player are enough, and it was enough for me as I was using Windows 7. And I thought it would be a good idea to have the Adobe CC programs pinned, the two Office products I use (I sometimes use PowerPoint, but not that often now as I’m not in college anymore), and the two internet browsers that I favor the most. I also kept the weather and the calendar tiles there just for quick glance purposes, but may not use it often. As for the other tiles, I knew I didn’t care much for because I knew I wouldn’t be using it. You’ll also notice that on the taskbar, I’ve hidden the search bar, and the task view button. I hid the search bar because I feel that it takes up too much space on that side of the taskbar, and can do a normal search anyway just by hitting the windows key on my keyboard, and then just start typing to start my search to open a program, or look for a file. I don’t need it there all the time…and I don’t need it as an icon, so I hid it. I also hid the task view button for a similar reason, and can easily make use of the task view functionalities by utilizing two very known shortcuts, Alt + Tab, and Win + Tab. These two shortcuts will help with the “multitasking” feature that Microsoft brags about. Now what about the “virtual desktops”? There’s a shortcut for that too, and I’m pretty happy about it as I may (or may not) take advantage of it, which is Ctrl + Win + D, to create a new desktop, and Ctrl + Win + F4 to close it. And if you wanna switch between the desktops, you can use the left and right arrow keys in combination with the Ctrl + Win command (so essentially Ctrl + Win + Left/Right Arrow Key). This was really the only thing I found useful when exploring how to use Windows 10, and how to take advantage of Windows 10 features my way.
And the customizing and configuration doesn’t stop there. Because I have the File Explorer pinned to my taskbar, I’m used to it showing the contents of “My Computer”. However at first, it will show you what’s called “Quick Access”, what was originally called “Home” in the Tech Preview builds. Quick Access will pretty much show you your frequently visited folders, and recently accessed files, along with pinned folders on the sidebar under the “Quick Access” menu. I personally don’t care for any of that, so you can hide these by changing the privacy options in Folder Options. While you may hide these frequent files and folders from Quick Access, you might still want to consider pinning some folders or libraries to Quick Access as in the start menu, there’s a place for you to expand the File Explorer menu item to open your Documents, Music, Pictures, etc. whereas the other way to go about accessing your libraries from the start menu would be to pin them, creating more clutter, at least in my opinion. So I would suggest to keep Quick Access, but have it collapsed so that in File Explorer, it won’t ever bother you. And if you have File Explorer pinned to the taskbar like I do, but want it to show the contents of your computer (“This PC” in the case of Windows 10), you can also change that option in Folder Options. Just change the dropdown option to “This PC” vs “Quick Access”.
Another thing that I had to change was the re-disabling of the infamous User Account Control. As I was reinstalling my drivers for my motherboard and graphics card, I was once again faced with the security prompt to ask for my permission to install the drivers. You can re-disable the User Account Control by going to the good-old Control Panel, going into User Accounts, and selecting the Change User Account Control settings for your account. Also, while we are on the subject of accounts, I intend to keep my account as local, and not connected with my Microsoft Live account. I’m fine with it being a local account, and okay with it not being synced with other apps or etc. The only other things that I had to also change were some file associations and default programs. Apparently, the Movies & TV app becomes your default to opening all of your video files. So I had to go into the Default Programs menu of the Control Panel to change that back, and re-associate my mp4, mov, and avi files to open with Windows Media Player. If your default is VLC Media Player, you can happily switch back to that too. The desktop app of course, not the app that comes from the Store, unless you really want to use it. Other than that, and being able to install Korean (learn how to install a language pack for Windows 10 here), and changing the font size on command prompt, that’s pretty much all the configuration and personalizing I’ve done. I may use the Twitter and Facebook apps, just to see if can get the notifications from it to pop up on my computer, then just check it from my (Android) phone. We’ll see how that goes…
Overall Thoughts on Windows 10?
As stated, it seems like everything is okay. I’m able to use Photoshop and Premiere Pro just fine, I can browse the internet with no problems not using Edge and with a stable internet connection, I’m able to watch videos on my computer fine without the need of an unnecessary extra app, and like Microsoft said, I’m able to do everything I was already able to do. I may just stick with Windows 10, since keeping Windows 7 is quickly becoming a limited option nowdays, but if you’re still planning on running Windows 7, hey that’s great for you! If you’re running Windows XP somehow still, that’s…good. No hate on that. If you’re running Vista, you should just get 7, though at this point, you might be stuck with having to get Windows 10, or switching to a Mac. And if you’re an Apple user reading about Microsoft products, that’s good for you too. Oh, and after being stuck on Windows 6 for a while (most of you know what I mean by this, but see this page if you don’t know), Windows 10 is finally truly known as Windows 10. No more minor revisions that look like major revisions, a smart move made by Microsoft. If you guys have a different experience once Windows 10 was released, or find any discrepancies here, please leave a comment below. This has truly been my longest blog post by far, and I haven’t blogged a lot, and haven’t been able to, so I hope I can do that more, especially since I recently changed the look of my whole website. If you were able to read this whole blog post from top to bottom, props to you. Hopefully something good comes out of Windows 10…because I’m about 90% sure I’ll be stuck with it now that I’ve upgraded.