Upgrade to Windows 10 or not?

Pit Wenkin asked me regarding my thoughts about upgrading to Windows 10 or not.  It ended up being a rather large post, so I decided to write it down as a blog post:

What do I recommend?  You’re asking this a Linux user.

For starters:
– If you are a Windows 8 user, do upgrade… Now… It is better than Windows 8.
– If you are a Windows 7 user, you are between a rock and a hard place.  Windows 10 is not better than 7, at least not in my eyes.  Windows 7 is end of life in January 2020 (Source: microsoft.com), which means security patches should come in until then.  However, your “Free” upgrade is only valid one year.  You have to upgrade NOW, or you are losing money.
– The reviews of 10 are generally positive, but… the arguments are always the same: it’s a Windows 8 underpinning (which, allegedly has a bit more “under the hood improvements”) with a more 7 like interface.  It’s still the ugly flat interface, though.  It always stops with “Hey, it’s free, you should take it”.  I personally find that one of the worst arguments for an upgrade.

Knowing this, you have to balance out the following:

  1. Will Microsoft keep their promise regarding EOL status of 7?  If we can see back in history, we know they won’t.  Both NT 4.0 and Windows 2000 didn’t get important security updates before their EOL because “it was too much work for the short time”.  The answer Microsoft could give is: Hey, Win10 is free, upgrade to that.  It would be a arsehole move, I admit, but look deep into your heart:  How much do you actually trust Microsoft?
  2. How long are you going to keep your device?  If you’ve got a machine and think you’re going to replace it anyway before 01/2020, you have no reason to upgrade (ignoring point 1).  Just keep on shrugging happily with Windows 7, and your new machine will be 10 anyway (or a Mac, please buy a Mac or ask me to install Linux!)
  3. Given point 2.  Keep in mind that machines have longer lifespans these days.  Even if you get a new machine every three years or so, it’s most likely going to have a life after your usage.  Which means, it’ll better have Windows 10.  It increases it’s “value” in the sense that it will get continued patches once it’s in someone else’s hands.  Now, you might not care and that’s fine.  I am just pointing it out.
  4. How much time do you have spare?  It’s quite simple.  If you do the upgrade now, and the immediately roll back (Yes! You can do that!), your machine is registered as being upgraded.  The main issue here is that we do not know how much the hash Microsoft has about your machine, will change on diverse hardware upgrades?  Does a disk change modify the hash?  Does a RAM upgrade do?  We only know for certain a motherboard swap does.

This brings us to my plan for my family & friends machines, and the one I did on my Ultrabook1.  I will take their machines, one by one, and upgrade it to 10, then revert back to 7.  That way, in 2020, they can go to 10 (because they have to), and keep on using 7 meanwhile.  Should anyone care to go to 10 voluntary, they will be able without paying.  At least, that’s the theory.  This will waste a lot of my time and a shitload of bandwidth, but it’s the best balance I found between point 1-4.
I am going to test what happens if I do a disk swap, instead of a dd clone (that takes so long).  If I can get a machine to upgrade with HDD A, and then use another HDD B to do an install from scratch and it activates fine, I don’t need to do the upgrade on the actual installation (aka, the one people use) and it’s only downtime for the users.

1 My Ultrabook came with Windows 8.  It never actually booted into 8, because I dumped Linux on it.  From day one.  Now, since I do care about the people “after me”, I did the following:  I made a dd clone of the disk, then I installed Windows 8, then I upgraded to Windows 10, then I restored the dd clone of the disk.  It took over three days (in the sense, I did one operation every evening and let it work overnight).  This is the roadplan, I have for Windows 7 machines.  Secure the upgrade, continue using the old and trusted.

2 thoughts on “Upgrade to Windows 10 or not?

    1. jawtheshark Post author

      From 8(.1)? Unlikely. For all intents and purposes Windows 10 is Windows 8(.1) with a more reasonable skin. They fixed a lot of usability issues, but left a lot in.

      From 7? Possible, but highly unlikely. The foundation of Windows 8(.1) and thus also from 10 has been improved with regards to 7, but that is mostly visible in boot times. However, boot times are a horrible metric and any software specialist will tell you they don’t matter. Furthermore, you have to realize they took away a lot of stuff, which might make it feel quicker. For example, since 8, Aero is gone. Aero uses your graphics card to render the desktop and used a lot of effects. Guess what happens if you simplify the graphics to the point of basicall fflat white squares? Performance improves, because you actually do less, but you lose the nice effect.

      Finally, you I think there is psychological effect going on. We are trained by advertisement and commerces to think “newer is better”. If you’ve been in the industry, like me, you know that’s bullshit, but still many people think this. Witness all the people who upgrade for the sake of upgrading. It’s insane.
      Now couple this with the fact that the upgrade is free, you are even more likely to like it, which then powers your confirmation bias. It’s basically: “You feel it’s better because you’re convinced it’s better”.

      Now, I am not immune to this effect and that’s why I started off with “I’m a Linux user”. I have a very negative view on anything that comes from Microsoft. So, I know, that I’m inclined to see the negative things. That said, I have used 10, at least in the role of an administrator and it infuriates me they made things impossible (renaming a network: impossible, easy task in 7) or took away long standing features (In a combo box, if you want to jump to a certain entry, type the first letter. Worded in pretty much every version of Windows prior to 8, and now it’s gone. At least in the “Modern” part of the GUI)

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