Confession: I’m a Windows 10 fan! I’ve been using it since September 2015 and I have absolutely no complaints about it. It’s easy to use, easy to navigate, packed with features and 100% better than Windows 8….and it was free! I even like MS Edge, the new browser – how sad is that!! Of course there are a few things which could be improved in Windows 10 but that’s nothing unusual for Microsoft software and certainly not cause to criticise what appears to be the most robustly created Windows Operating System ever. Heck, it even runs well on older ex-Windows 7 machines with 2Gb memory.
What really concerns me though is that the July 29th free upgrade deadline is fast approaching and there are still a lot of members out there who haven’t upgraded for whatever reason.
At SeniorNet Kapiti we’ve already moved our key courses over to being taught in Windows 10 and I don’t want our members to get left behind. I’ve personally completed upwards of 20 successful upgrades from Windows 7 & 8 for various family and friends and I only have one thing to say to you if you’re still hesitating……IT’S TIME TO GET ON WITH IT! Microsoft are being pretty clear about ending the free upgrade period on 29 July 2016 and have already stated that commercial rates will apply after that date.
In case you’re wondering, a copy of Windows 10 Home in the US costs $US119.99 (from the Microsoft Store) which translates to $NZ176 plus GST. Why on earth would you not take the free upgrade while you can? It’s a safe bet that every SeniorNet member I know can think of at least 10 more important things they would rather spend $NZ202 on – I know I can!
It’s true that a few people’s PCs still don’t seem to be able to be upgraded to Windows 10 but those cases are rare and are normally older Windows 7 systems with issues we’ve yet to unravel! Of more concern to me are those people who are being advised by others (maybe even family members) not to upgrade at all. I find this advice unfair, ill-informed and often self-serving especially if it’s coming from a retail establishment. SeniorNet Kapiti’s advice is to accept the Upgrade NOW! The bottom line here is that if Microsoft is offering you the upgrade then they regard your PC or laptop as being capable of handling the new Operating System and you should accept their offer. If you are ultimately unsuccessful (the upgrade successfully backs itself out if it encounters problems), so be it, but most people will find the upgrade is quite trouble-free and painless…..albeit slow and tedious if you choose to watch it!
My advice is that the “wait and see” period is over. Windows 10 has proven to be robust and well worth upgrading to and if you’ve been waiting (for whatever reason), it’s time to get off the fence. ACCEPT the upgrade and let it do its thing. You only have until 29 July and it’s never wise to leave this sort of thing to the last minute.
Before You Start
If you are going to take my advice (and I hope you do – 300 million others already have!), there are a few things you should think about/do before getting started.
- Backup any important data (pictures, documents, contacts, favourites etc) onto an external device like a memory stick or hard disk. This isn’t strictly necessary – just a wise precaution. All your data will be exactly where you left it prior to the Upgrade.
- If you are Upgrading a laptop, plug the power supply into the mains and turn it on.
- On all machines, go to Control Panel, Power Options and change the Sleep time to “Never” – you cannot afford to have the PC go to sleep during the Upgrade. It’s OK for the display to turn off but sleeping on the job is very bad for this Upgrade.
- If you have an older Windows 7 machine, check the amount of free space on the hard drive. If you are down to 20Gb or less, you will struggle (and possibly ultimately fail) to upgrade. The best solution is to delete all the rubbish off your machine including all Temporary files, downloads and any software you don’t use. If your machine has split C: and D: drives, it’s the available space on the C: drive that matters. In my experience, you should be aiming for at least 40-50Gb free space for this upgrade to work smoothly. If you can’t fathom this one out, why not come to one of our How Do I…? Workshops and we can discuss your options and help you tidy up.
- If you’re a Windows 8 or 8.1 user and you succumbed to adding a 3rd Party Start Button, I STRONGLY advise you to remove it PRIOR to the upgrade. This is done through Control Panel, Programs and Features, Uninstall. You won’t need this software on Windows 10 so you are better to rid yourself of it early.
- As an aside, if there is any other software/applications you no longer use, this is an excellent time to remove it.
- If you already have a Hotmail or Outlook.com email account, a OneDrive Account or a Microsoft Live Account, make sure you know the password before starting. This account (they’re all the same account actually) will be the “Microsoft Account” which underpins your Windows 10 installation. You won’t need to create/register for another one, just use this existing account name and password when asked for it.
- I have found that, with Windows 7 in particular, it’s extremely important to make sure that all outstanding Windows Updates (Important and Optional) are applied to the machine BEFORE starting the Upgrade. Be careful though because you’ll likely find that the Windows 10 Upgrade is already pre-ticked in the list of Optional Updates and while installing the other outstanding updates you need to UNTICK it each time. When you’ve got all the other updates installed (and rebooted as necessary) then you can TICK the Windows 10 upgrade and kick it into life.
- I have also seen a number of recommendations to disable your Anti-Virus software during the Upgrade as some of the commercial products seem to interfere with the process. I think this is good advice. If you are sick of paying for your commercial Anti-Virus, you could even uninstall it before Upgrading because there’s a free Anti-Virus program built right into Windows 10 which will kick into life the moment the Upgrade is finished (but only in the absence of a commercial alternative).
The Upgrade Process
The Upgrade itself takes quite a long time (2-4hrs typically). You don’t need to hang around while it’s happening but there are a few places where you have to respond to questions so do keep an eye on things as they progress. I tend to check in every 30 minutes or so.
- At the start, you have to tell the Upgrade to proceed. While there are reports of upgrades “just happening”, I’m sceptical about this and I suspect people have simply clicked the wrong button along the way and accidently started the process – Microsoft are getting quite pushy if you haven’t noticed!
There are several places you can start the Upgrade from. The most obvious is the white Windows icon in the Taskbar Notifications area but if that’s not working or responding, go to Control Panel, Windows Updates and you’ll find the Windows 10 Upgrade waiting for you in the Optional Updates list.
- After the download step, you again have to tell the Upgrade that you’re ready to proceed. It will then spend quite a long time preparing the machine (aka backing up the old operating system in case a recovery is necessary) before shutting down and rebooting for the first time. This, I think, is the main reason you need plenty of free space on your C: drive before you start.
- Once the large circle with the huge percentage counter has chugged along for several hours and rebooted your PC several times (at least 3), you will eventually have to log in. If you are coming from Windows 7, this is as easy as hitting Enter as you won’t (yet) be using a Microsoft Account but if you were already using a Microsoft Account in Windows 8, then you will have to log on using the password you used before.
- You will then be asked a couple of questions and we recommend you accept the licences and “Express Settings” rather than start customising things at this early stage. The defaults are just fine to get started.
- After you log in, the Upgrade then spends another 15-30 minutes telling you it’s “almost done” before you finally see your desktop again. When you get to this stage, you’re all done and can break out the champagne!!
After the Upgrade
Everything should work again after the upgrade but that’s not a guarantee! Picasa, Windows Live Mail, Office and most printers all work fine in our experience. If you encounter any software/applications which refuse to function properly, a Repair or Reinstall is often the wisest move. Go to the supplier’s website and search for a Windows 10 version of the program. If you legitimately purchased the software, you will almost definitely be eligible for a compatible version. Remember that Microsoft are not responsible for compatibility of other company’s software (or hardware) although most common software has been well tested on Windows 10 by now.
I unashamedly recommend that all Windows 10 users sign on using a Microsoft Account. I see no downsides to this recommendation and several benefits (including 5Gb of free OneDrive cloud storage and a free backup of all your operating system settings!). Furthermore, I don’t regard having to enter your Microsoft password in every time you turn your PC on as a downside – it’s just good safe computing practice…..and helps you remember your most important password!
If you’re migrating across from Windows 7, you will start using Windows 10 on a Local Account. This is fine but I have resolved a lot of “issues” for people simply by changing them over to use a Microsoft Account which somehow seems to have cleared up the problems they were having (don’t ask me why – it just works!).
To work out where you stand…
- Click the new Start Button (bottom left as always!)
- Click Settings
- Click Accounts
If it says Local Account at the top of the right-hand part of the screen under your name, then I recommend you set up a Microsoft Account by clicking the option which, as I recall says, Change to a Microsoft Account or similar. Use your current email address as the Microsoft Account name but please use a different password for this account.
If you see your full name (first and surname) as well as your email address below it and it says, Manage my Microsoft Account then you are already using a Microsoft Account and no further action is required.
If you need help with this step, come along to a How Do I…? Workshop and we can assist you. It only takes a few minutes.
If you have an older PC or laptop, it’s a good idea to defragment the hard disk after the upgrade is finished. These days I recommend the free program called Smartdefrag 5 which is available from MajorGeeks but just make sure it doesn’t install any other “nice to have” software during the install (read all the screens!). Oh, and just close the silly window about “shooting the bunny” !!!
Please go try it! Accept the Upgrade before it’s too late. I’m not scaremongering here – just being practical. This is a rare “free lunch” with no strings attached so why not give it a go? If for any reason the Upgrade is unsuccessful, it will automatically back itself out. You really have nothing to lose and everything to gain if successful. SeniorNet has moved on and we think you should to. From now on, the best support you will get from us will be based around Windows 10.
If you’re a SeniorNet member, you should then consider a refresher course which will go over all the key aspects of Windows 10. At SeniorNet Kapiti the course (Introduction to Windows 10), is already heavily booked so you need to get in early. You’ll get to “play” with Windows 10 in a safe environment and we’ll also throw in a list of Settings changes which we recommend to further secure your PC/laptop from intruders and excessive broadband usage. Please respect the fact that the How Do I…? Workshops are not a substitute for this course. We simply don’t have time for training sessions when we’re focused on resolving technical issues for members.
If you’re still nervous, please come along to the next How Do I …? Workshop and we can help get your laptop ready for the Upgrade. We can’t do the actual Upgrade for you and you can’t do it at The Learning Centre (it takes too long) but we can give you the necessary reassurances that it should go smoothly at home.
Our Mantra for Term 2 2016
Windows 10 – here’s looking at ya kid!