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Windows 10 - should I upgrade?

Author: Alan Beber

Some customers have asked about the free upgrade offered by Microsoft to go from Win7, Win8 & Win8.1 to Win10. Others have gone ahead with the upgrade and unfortunately got themselves into difficulties.

Here are my recommendations for anyone thinking of upgrading either on an existing machine, or to a new machine.

The story so far

MS released Win8 a few years ago and it was, for most users, an absolute disaster – this time instead of just moving the furniture around, so to speak, they went so far as to remodel the entire house. No-one knew how to use the completely new interface, that was primarily designed for tablets and phones. The shortcomings could actually be overcome easily enough by using Classic Shell or similar utility programs to reinstate the Start Menu, but the damage was done.

Then they came up with 8.1 which tried to backpedal a bit and assuage some of the criticism. That didn’t work, so now they have released Win10 which is claimed to bring the best of Win7 and Win8.1 together, with upgrades to interface and security. If you’re wondering, the designation Win9 was bypassed so as to distance Win10 from Win8 as much as possible, although Microsoft claim it is done to avoid any confusion with Win95, 98 etc.

They want a Billion devices to be using Win10 eventually, so it is being offered as a FREE upgrade as mentioned above. You have a year from July 2015 to accept this offer, and if you do, and don’t like it, you have 1 month to revert to the previous operating system.

Should I upgrade?

That depends on which OS you’re using at the moment.

For Win8 & 8.1 users, there is no question that you should take up the free offer. The interface isn’t all that different from what you have now, and will probably be easier to use. And did I mention, it’s free.

For WinXP and Vista users, the question is more, should I get a new PC or laptop? Your present machine could be over 10 years old now and XP especially is not supported in terms of security updates from Microsoft. Any new machine will probably come with 8.1 installed at time of writing (Autumn 2015), but I would wait for new machines to appear with Win10 already installed. An upgrade to Win10 on an existing XP or Vista machine is not free anyway. See also Win7 options below.

For Win7 users the picture is more difficult because it is such a good, fast and secure OS itself, that one asks the question, why bother to upgrade? It will be supported by Microsoft for at least 5 years from 2015, and it has that familiar XP look and feel, but with a sharper response.

At the time of writing, both Dell and HP were still offering business oriented laptops with Win7 Pro installed. So it is still possible to upgrade to a Win7 machine.


However, there is one more consideration, and that is older software.

For example I use an older database program that worked fine in XP, and when I upgraded to Win7, although it wouldn’t work at first, whatever I tried to do, there was an option called “XP Mode” available on the Pro edition, that allowed older software to run in a virtual XP machine. This works transparently and is a good solution for me. Have you got similar older software that you simply must have working?

Unfortunately, XP Mode is not available for Win8, Win8.1, or Win10. So if your software cannot work with the compatibility work-arounds provided on these systems, you will have to use Oracle Virtual PC or other Virtual Machine software, although these are not as slick and transparent as XP Mode.

This probably doesn’t affect home users so much, but it will affect business users with tried and trusted older software. Beware of such compatibility problems when upgrading.

For business users in particular this is critical, because it is your software that calls the tune. Without your crucial software, you cannot run your business!


Upgrading from WinXP, Vista, Win8 & Win8.1 is definitely recommended, albeit for different reasons.

Upgrading from Win7 is not recommended at present, as there is no real advantage, and update support is guaranteed for another 5 years from 2015.

XP & Vista owners should upgrade their older machines too, and so should explore the options of either having Win7 or Win10 pre-installed. Be aware though that the former option is likely to disappear in the near future as Microsoft bans the installation of Win7 on new machines (they can do that under their licensing terms).

I hope this has clarified the situation for you – but if you need any further advice or help, please call me.

Top of Page

Claimed Pros:

Perceived Cons:


Depends on machine spec.

More secure.

Security has not been tested over time.

Better, more functional interface.

Start Menu reintroduced.

New Modern look.

The interface may not be an improvement for some, eg. the furniture has been moved around again so to speak, and windows are all white, making it difficult to differentiate them on the screen.

The new Start Menu is a matter of taste, but can also be replaced by Classic Shell to retain the old familiar look and feel.

There is still a mish-mash of old and new controls, eg. the settings are shared between the old style Control Panel and a new Settings window.

The Modern look may not be to your taste either.

Mandatory automatic updates keep machines secure.

Updates can be downloaded from any machine on the network, so a System Administrator can control when and how updates are performed within a company.

Updates have occasionally broken machines in the past, so it’s not a good idea to have them forced on one without some kind of control of which updates to apply.

Operating System upgrades will now be performed as part of the routine update process. So no more major OS installations.

This is a very good idea, but MS will have to make money somehow, so it's likely they will move on to a subscription model, like Office 365, where one pays every year for the use of the software.

This is the "Gillette" model - the razor was only $1, but they made their money selling the blades.

Edge browser replaces Internet Explorer.

Edge browser is not very polished.

IE has never been the best anyway and was always playing catchup, so use Firefox or Chrome or Opera.

There is a bug that prevents you sending emails from Outlook.

This is pretty easily fixed, but shouldn’t be there.

Supported for at least 10 years.