Feature: Why you need to count to ten before updating Windows

Beware of Windows 10 Day!
Beware of Windows 10 Day!

MORAY COMPUTER USERS may not have noticed it yet but today is a landmark if, like most, your computer is of the Windows PC rather than Mac variety.

Today is Windows 10 day launch day. Never noticed? You probably soon will – but before excited fingers descend on the ‘free update’ key millions will be invited to press, as a former IT manager turned unpaid community news editor, I have to advise you to read on.

Ultimately the choice is yours of course, but I really have to use the pages of insideMoray today to urge everyone to count to 10 before upgrading to 10 – or at least consider our 10 points listed below.

Computer operating systems are very likely a mystery to most of you – you will have purchased your computer with it already installed, and there is every chance you have gleefully worked away without (I hope) many problems.

I have always been quite happy to offer assistance to friends and family on computer issues – but today my phone will be firmly off the hook as I anticipate carnage will ensue as millions of computer users around the world are ‘updated’ to the new Microsoft operating system – hundreds, perhaps even thousands, right here in Moray.

Why? – after all, this much anticipated update will, according to Microsoft, be the biggest yet and what is more for the vast majority it is being offered for free.

That is why I expect many will charge straight in there and upgrade their computers – but I just have a hunch that many that do might not be reading insideMoray for a few days as they struggle to regain control of their computer hardware.

OK, some facts that Microsoft have not been so keen to tell you about this glorious revolution – our ten-points of things to consider or be aware of.

1. First, what exactly does ‘Free’ mean? The new operating system is a free upgrade to anyone currently using a legal copy of Windows 7 or 8 (others will need to purchase a copy of the upgrade). This free upgrade can be claimed at any time from today for an offer that will last one year.

2. ‘Opting out’ of updates – In the past many Windows users have suddenly found their systems or programmes no longer work as they should, and the problem, it was found, had been caused by automatic updates being applied. The advice has always been to switch off the automatic updates. This will NOT be an option with Windows 10 unless you are using the ‘professional’ version of the software (that is the business rather than home version). The danger then is that if something goes wrong with an update you could have the devil’s own job putting it right.

3. Don’t like it so I’ll switch back – Always an option of course, except this time you have to make up your mind quickly. A Windows 10 update will give you one month to change your mind and switch back to Windows 7 or Windows 8 – but after that, you are stuck with it, permanently.

4. Will all my software still work? – In theory, yes – if it works on Windows 7/8 then it should still work on Windows 10. But of course Microsoft cannot guarantee that is the case, and perhaps ominously they do say that some software may not work and if that is the case you may need to reinstall it.

5. At the end of the ‘free’ year do you have to pay? – To be fair, no you should not, as Microsoft say that when a Windows device is upgrade to 10 they will “keep it current for the lifetime of the device” (effectively that is between five and ten years).

6. Will it work with all my hardware? – Answer is – maybe, possibly, perhaps! Updates are compulsory and automatic, but will be delivered on the basis that the device using the system is ‘baseline’ and ongoing support for hardware will depend on “devices remaining compatible” (that sounds a bit like a no to us).

7. But it’s stable, right – they would not release it otherwise? – It will be as stable as any new operating system ever is – and that, in our view, means very little! In the first few months of the new system users can expect a great many updates being downloaded on a regular basis – and perhaps throwing up more unexpected errors. The new system has been ‘tested’ by around five million people world-wide using a variety of hardware devices – but to expect it to now be distributed to over one billion customers and not face a few problems is wishful thinking.

8. I never moved up to Windows 7 or 8, where do I stand? First up, if you do choose to move up to Windows 10 it is likely you will face more problems than those who currently use Windows 7 or 8. For a start, you will need to pay for the operating system, probably around the £100 mark (you could join the Windows Insider programme and get it for free if you feel brave enough). In addition there is no automatic upgrade from other operating systems – so you would need to start afresh, destroying all existing data on your device in the process.

9. Still – according to the hype it will be worth the risk, right? – Perhaps, if you are brave enough. There is no doubt that most Windows users will eventually update to Windows 10 – it is those who charge in first who are the bravest of the brave!

10. So should I – or should I not? – We say you should not, you should be patient and wait until the dust settles – let others take the risk, overcome the problems and then move in when you are 99.9% certain that the experience is not going to turn you into a gibbering wreck.