Windows 10 upgrade & review: You don't need it


Updated: September 18, 2015

All right, today, we WILL discuss the upgrade itself. In my last article on this topic, I only showed you all the preparatory steps before the upgrade itself, but not the results. As it turns out, I decided to volunteer my test laptop for the process, and then report back my success, or lack thereof.

So we will see how the upgrade thingie went. Furthermore, even though you've had more than enough reading material to decide for yourself, this article should help you determine if and when you ought to upgrade to Windows 10. Well, within the coming ten months or so, that is. Proceed, we shall.

Teaser

The upgrade path

I had three options. One, use GWX. Second, use the media creation tool, as explained in the guide linked at the very beginning of this article, to update the system without waiting, or to create installable media for use on other systems. But this requires a host with Windows 7/8 already installed, so it's no different than sacrificing my test laptop.

In the end, I decided to go with the second option. Not wait for GWX do its stuff, but instead download and setup Windows 10 with the media tool. After running through the wizard, the tool started downloading the image. Depending on the speed of your connection, this can take a while.

Downloading

After the image is downloaded, you will need to accept the Windows 10 license. Someone asked me about the EULA and how bad it is. Well, it's been worded by lawyers, so what do you expect. But then, there's no reason to get excited. Just remember that you've paid money for own your computer, so you're the king of your domain. Simple.

License agreement

After that, the installer will check for updates and grab any new files that may have changed since the original release, sort of. Which is weird, because I've just downloaded the image, but then, it might be two different repositories, or the tool assumes the user may do the download and installation in two separate phases.

Updates

What to keep

The next step is the most important one. You need to choose what you want to keep after the upgrade. You have the option to keep files and programs, one or both. Or none. Now, needless to say, you should also have a system image and a proper backup of all your stuff.

Choose what to keep

If you change your mind and go back, the installer will do all its thinking from scratch, so it can take a while. Moreover, at this point you should make sure you have finished all your work, as the system will be unavailable during the upgrade.

The installation

The overall process took about two hours, which is much faster than what I had during the tech preview phase. It's still abysmally slow, and much slower than a typical DVD install, but then, Windows also had to shuffle data left and right and preserve a bunch of things.

In the end, it was done. Successfully? I have to say, yes. Spotless. Everything was in order. All my personal settings except the Classic Menu were preserved. All my apps, and I mean normal desktop programs, were available and working without any problems. I was logged in with my local account, and with none of that online thingie.

Complete

Menu

Fixes and improvements from the Tech Preview

After spending several months fiddling with the preview builds, I can now easily and confidently compare the two. The final edition is slightly faster and works more smoothly, but that's partly because it ships with all the right drivers for the platform. Plus, it does not need all the debug bits and pieces.

The menu has also been sorted out. The search box works as it should, and it's not the stupid thing that we saw in the beta phase. Apparently, my harsh and loving criticism works. The message has been sent and received. Yes, it's still not perfect, still not quite what it should be, but it's far less obnoxious and annoying than the Glam-Tram ride we saw previously.

Search, no generic nonsense

Life at a glance as a title for the live icons still reads as silly as it gets, but you can very quickly neuter all the tiles and just keep your standard, desktop applications in place, and pretend there's never been any Metro to begin with. Well, almost.

I am not entirely sure about recently added apps, and why they show up there, but it's a minor setting that you can change. The actual software is of more questionable nature, and I am not pleased with Microsoft taking liberties and installing crap. Again, you can purge all the unnecessary stuff with a few brisk mouse clicks. And then finally, the system will look presentable. Which reminds me, all those folks saying how the menu is going away, change is good, we need to embrace it, and all that other nonsense? Nope. Wrong. You see, you can't fight the human nature.

Menu, clean

Then, the problems with icons, like regedit have been fixed. My feedback has seeped deep into the development cycles. I am pleased. So far so good, but we've only just started.

Icon fixes

The Action Center also looks more presentable, but it's a bit annoying. The smartphone like grid isn't very nice. Yes, we've seen the taste of in the Mobility Center on Windows 7, but this is taking it to the whole new level. Doesn't make sense unless you're using a phone, where it makes a lot of sense.

Notifications, action center

Windows Updates

This is a tricky one. Again, the Internet is crying a river about how you cannot really change the Windows Updates settings in the Home edition of Windows 10. Indeed, for the Home edition users, the options are quite limited. You can delay the updates and schedule the restart, but not really use any other sensible option like in other versions of Windows. You don't get the group policy editor in the Home edition, and the registry tweaks won't work.

Updates, new scheme

For Pro users, as well as Enterprise users, there's a whole bunch of registry tweaks and group policies that you can use. Here's a nice article about that.

Disable updates through registry

Back to Home, the only thing you can do, without massive hacking that is, if you have a Wireless connection, is to set it to be metered, in which case, the updates won't download unless you explicitly choose to do so. Does not work for Ethernet.

Metered connection

Overall, this is immensely retarded. Yes, the majority of people are clueless, and you want them to keep using updates so their systems remain safe and healthy and whatnot. But then, the average user will never bother changing the defaults, so you can simply keep them set as automatic, and let the power users make the necessary adjustments.

What Microsoft has done this way is cause a big inconvenience and a lot of rage with its advanced users community. Because power users don't want their computers rebooting every few days. They actually do SERIOUS WORK and reboots are an unnecessary hassle. Moreover, automatic updates can be dangerous. True, the chances of an updating borking your system is low, but you don't want to be the first one to receive a bad patch and then go about asking for help.

I never do updates without performing a system image first. Never. Also, security is overrated. Totally and completely. There's nothing cardinal about doing them, and if you don't use Internet Explorer or Edge, and don't download random crap files from the Web, in the form of executables, PDF and Word docs, and such, then you're fine. The rest is just hype and fearmongering. Besides, you can use something like EMET to make things better.

And so, when you combine the lack of ability to protect your system from accidental damage by updates with your work regime, automatic updates translate into a big digital turd. Which is why, if you want to use Windows 10 Home like a sane person, you will probably want to disable the Windows Update service.

Disable service

Yup, if you're a power user, and you don't happen to have a Pro edition, then your choice to not have forced updates is to stop and disable the Windows Update service and turn it on when you want the patches installed. If you try to grab updates while the service is off, you'll get an error. Good.

Updates disabled, error

I bet sometime in the future, Microsoft will also lock down the service itself, and you won't have control over it. When this happens, you will need to use firewall rules to stop the system from accessing the update center, or maybe do it on your router. Just unnecessary pain that normal users are not even aware of, and so the only ones suffering and bitching are the techies. Good job, Microsoft. It's like adding airbags to the car roof, on the outside.

Windows Defender

This is another turd. This pointless tool wastes your CPU, and you can't turn it off. You can only temporarily disable it. If you've read my Windows 8.1 article on this topic, you can see the progress and escalation in stupidity, and so you can apply the lessons learned here to what is going to happen with Windows updates. Extrapolate and slap your forehead.

Defender, cannot turn off, only temporarily

Anyhow, in Windows 8, you could turn it off, but not the services. Now, you can't even turn the program off and use your own security. This means you will need to purge the program from your system using a bit of rigor and hacking. I've shown you how to take ownership of folders and change permissions in the GWX guide. But if this is not enough, just boot into any one Linux and rename the folders. This kills it for good.

Kill Defender

Once you're back in Windows, if you check the services, Windows Defender is gone. And if you try to click on the relevant option in the Settings menu, it will just close it. Mission accomplished.

Defender neutered

Action Center noise

Spyware Center can't turn Defender on, good

So damn satisfying.

Edge

This browser is the worst part of the whole Windows 10 experience. It is the worst product ever made. It is ugly, pointless and simply horrible. There's nothing about it that makes it appealing as a product.

One thing, it shows ads and news, and I DON'T BLOODY WANT ADS AND NEWS! Second, it gives random weather results in Imperial units, again a total and utmost retardation, and a few other silly bits and pieces. This is your welcome. Plus, I've explicitly marked my location not be used, and yet for some reason, Edge is trying to localize - wrongly of course.

Edge crap

If you open a new tab, by default, it will be flooded with filth. In the settings, you can tweak what the browser offers you, and even if you for a blank tab, you will STILL get quite a lot of crap. Empty means empty, what's so hard to understand.

Edge settings

New tab crap

Blank tab, NOT

Blank tab, NOT. That's your blank. Morons.

The address bar is hidden, the contrast is terrible. We will discuss this soon enough, but at the moment, the Edge browser looks like a little alien, aborted way too early, and now it's in the incubation chamber on a human intergalactic spaceship, but the temperature is all wrong, and it's coming out wrinkled and wonky.

Store and Xbox

If you try to sign into Xbox or Store, and use your Microsoft account ONLY for the particular app, Windows will still try to force peddle its online stuff, again. Everything started nicely, and I had my local account all dandy, but now, they were ruining it.

Only this app!

Make it yours, what does that even mean? What's a highly personalized experience? Does this mean my current experience is not personalized? Are you invalidating my ability to have a personal experience with my computer? Why are you trying to sell me Cortana, when my REGION DOES NOT WORK, REMEMBER, and why are you asking me to switch to the Microsoft account? The third law of Mechanics, you push, I'll push back. And so, the Store is pointless and off limits, and so is Xbox, because I don't want to risk the chance to accidentally switching to an online account. Furthermore, there's nothing of value in the Store, and with this kind of moronic attitude, I don't want to use it or Xbox. Take your marketing and shove it.

Store crap

Nothing says meaning of life and intelligence like FarmVille.

Can't change the theme

One of the other more retarded things about Windows 10 is that you cannot really change the default gray theme. Nope. You can play with color accents, but the window decoration remains gray and depressing. The contrast isn't very good, and hyperlinks are featured in gray too, so it all looks rather confusing.

Then, some menus are white, some menus are gray, some look like they did in previous versions. Windows 10 looks like work in progress, and there's no common guiding principle for the user interface. Thom from OSNews has written a nice piece on this.

Control Panel

Old school stuff.

Performance, responsiveness

On my G50 laptop, Windows 10 was behaving rather well. Now, the revelation. The overall speed is identical to Windows 8.1, and no different from any other Windows experience over the years. All my systems fly, and they all work at the limit of their hardware, not software, because I won't let crap like Defender slow me down.

If you're one of those people who says Windows 10 is faster, then you need to reexamine your life choices, as well as your computing habits. Suspend & resume work fine, all the peripherals work fine, and the performance is just like before. Good, but nothing special and no better than Windows 8.1. Or Windows 7. Or XP.

Task manager

Network noise

If you keep the task manager open and use the menu, you'll see a tiny spike in network traffic. This is one of them phone-home moments that the Internet was talking about lately, quite a lot. Indeed, 'tis a problem. Why would a system that uses a local account and NO online features whatsoever need any network while performing a search?

I am not concerned about data leaking - remember, if you don't trust a product, don't use it, plain and simple - but I am concerned by the lack of consistency in the design, as well as the disregard for my explicit instructions as the owner of this machine. Overall, someone failed hard somewhere inside Microsoft. I will follow up to see how this story develops. It would be interesting if there was a huge outrage, because this kind of stupidity cannot go unpunished.

Network activity when searching

Battery life

My laptop shows about 5.25 hours after restart and a few minutes of gentle activity. Now, if we compare to most Linux distributions tested on this host, as well as the now upgraded Windows 8.1, then the overall battery life is similar. Windows 10 has a small advantage over most distros, but not its predecessor.

Battery

Conclusion

And so we have reached the end of the upgrade, as well as this review. So what do we have here? On the positive side, the upgrade was spotless, and all my files and programs were preserved. The menu is also nicer, and the system works okay overall. That's about it on the happy end.

As far as bad things go, there's way too much complexity in tweaking the privacy of the system and avoiding all the pointless online integration. Windows Defender is annoying, the updates are potentially risky and work-interfering, and Edge is utter crap. The Store and Xbox are meaningless. Performance is just like before, and you get a bonus phone-home stupidity. You can't change the theme.

This is nothing more than Windows 8.2, glorified and relabeled, and while it does introduce some nice improvements here and there, it's just a service pack, there's nothing special about it, and it works like any other Windows. Well, it also introduces all sorts of new complications, including but not limited to the updates, the browser, and the privacy.

So, should you upgrade? No reason. If you want, do it, if you don't, don't. You won't gain or lose much, as far as functionality goes. You will be more locked down in what you can do, though, and you will start thinking about privacy, even if you're not too keen on that particular topic. In a way, there's more harm than good. Overall, a meh release from Microsoft, which should be okay on new platforms, but it gives no value whatsoever for existing users on previous versions of Windows and older hardware. And then, you might also really be concerned about some of the limitations, so think hard.

Back in its day, Windows 7 delivered genuine 64-bit support, and that was its one huge advantage over XP. Since, the computing space has changed little, and new versions of Windows don't have any real killer features. Windows 10 just continues the Windows 8 line, slightly mellowed, with a normal menu, plus more online nonsense. That's the gist of it. We will have a privacy guide coming soon. Take care.

Cheers.

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