ned Productions Consulting

Technology musings by Niall Douglas
ned Productions Consulting
(an expert advice and services company based in Ireland)

Friday 10th July 2015 10.38am

Installed 64 bit Windows 10 onto my laptop yesterday with a full system wipe after the Windows 8.1 install on there had annoyed me sufficiently I couldn't cope any more. The previous install, which was an upgrade from a 32 bit Windows XP working fine since 2007 despite being on a totally different laptop, recently developed some problem with Windows Update whereby it would loop forever in the background an attempt to install updates, thrashing the disc drive and eating battery in the process. You could fix it by disabling the Windows Update service, but then no updates of course.

I did try everything I could find online to fix the Windows Update corruption, including wiping all vestiges of its database and getting it to rebuild. Still no luck. And despite virus scans saying I was clean, you never could shake the suspicion I might have been rootkitted.

Anyway I read a review online that Windows 10 was usable, and its prerelease ISO is free - you don't even need to register. So I made the jump now rather than waiting a month. And yeah … I should have waited that month. Windows 10 build 10162 is buggy … lots of glitches, weird error messages, Explorer hangs when copying file trees, quite a bit of UI flicker, and the restored Start Menu is totally useless when left clicked (as in, the only useful menu entry is "Shutdown"), but very useful when right clicked (yeah, I know), and I'd just love if those two menus could be switched for power users. They also, unsurprisingly, really want you to log in with a windows live account, but I've found local accounts work just fine (just say no to all prompts!), and despite the misleading nagging messages Windows Update works just fine without you being logged into Microsoft too. As you may have heard, Windows 10 ought to never need upgrading, it is supposed to upgrade itself, so this install of this admittedly flaky build ought to self-improve.

If you've used Win 8.1 with any of the Start Menu replacement programs, nothing is too different on Win10 - Win10 is basically what happens if Win7 and Win8.1 had a baby, because it's quite literally a mishmash of the two. Metro is done far better now though, and I actually use the Metro apps for viewing Photos and Videos now on the desktop - the glaringly obvious UI difference I don't find a problem. You can also, from the explorer context menu, send anything to your TV for display including video, photos, music - that's a long overdue killer feature methinks.

It took a bit of manual prodding to fetch the right drivers after the install, but as it recognised my Intel 7230 wifi (a very new adapter) out of the box this was minor inconvenience rather than major hassle. All in all, Win10 is looking like a big improvement over Win8.1, but to be honest there isn't much here for Win7 users except the kernel improvements they added in since.

I still think if they married the Win8.1 kernel with the Win7 everything else everyone would be more than happy. The only thing Win10 gives you over Win7 is the now not too terrible Metro stuff, and you only really care about that on Phone and Tablet. For desktop users, there is still remarkably little value add since Win7.