Should I Upgrade to Windows 10?

Microsoft will release the latest edition of it's Windows operating system on July 29, 2015.

It's branded Windows 10 yet it is actually the 9th iteration of the product. My working theory is that they want consumers to believe that they're so, so far away from Windows 8 that they can trust the product again. 

Meanwhile, it's also the last version of Windows to supposedly carry with it a number or a year; Microsoft will simply rebrand it as Windows and update it with incremental bundled patches just as Apple updates OSX.

Windows 10 is also distinctive in that this will be the first o/s release from Microsoft to be streamed in addition to a DVD offering. Further, Windows 10 will be released for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. Even now, users of these operating systems are being hustled by Microsoft to sign up for a pre-release for their systems. 

Should you upgrade to Windows 10? 

First of all, I think one should critically think about Microsoft's strategy here for a minute.

  • Currently, any PC running Windows 7 and Windows 8 can upgrade means that many PC's that have under-market processor and memory and hard disk space are about to take on even more overhead. I can imagine tens of thousands of people subscribing to Windows and it automatically updates only to slow down their computer even more.
  • As with any major o/s release, there will be new driver requirements. Imagine, after an upgrade, your printer stops working, the video display doesn't work right, or a camera interface fails, and the user has to troubleshoot the driver problem. 
  • Along that same idea, with any major o/s release, there will be new software requirements. I can imagine major software OEM help desks being flooded in August with irate customers who installed Windows 10 and something went wrong, looking for the vendor to fix it.
  • This is Microsoft's first time at hot updating a consumer o/s like this. Their first time. What could possibly go wrong? Well, everything. and Microsoft must feel really emboldened after their Windows 8 fiasco that this will work flawlessly. Color me skeptical. Windows - at maybe sixty million lines of code, something will go wrong, and wrong will happen to hundreds of thousands of users. I've been reading from insider sources how Microsoft's intending to push Windows 10 out with tons of bugs with the intention to update the fixes later; again, more Microsoft crap.
  • Finally, it's free. Free. Why is Microsoft releasing their cash cow for free? They've traditionally made hand-over-fist money with this product. Why give it away? How will shareholders respond to this? How else will Microsoft make money? I envision a world where Windows might be free and the tools to write for the o/s made free, but its features are premium subscriptions.

Again, though, should you upgrade to Windows 10? Perhaps the only compelling difference between Windows 7, 8, and 10 (because it's not the kernel - it's the same code) will be the user interface. Metro will be tamed and the Start Menu (with Metro integrations) will be re-introduced. Beyond that, it's still the same, dumb, slow, consistently-erratic Windows Experience. Except, this time, with more risk.

Who would want to subject their own personal computing or professional/business computing to that kind of risk? Not me. My recommendations:

1. Don't automatically subscribe for the update. Update it later, manually, perhaps a quarter or two after the initial release. Let others be on the bleeding edge and absorb the risk.

2. If you want Windows 10, actually, don't update through the stream. Instead, buy a new PC with Windows 10 already on it. Therein you've warranties and return policies to help manage the risk.

3. If you're planning to upgrade your small business office place, check with your major software and hardware providers for Windows 10 issues and compatibility before upgrading. At least walk in to the upgrade wide-eyed, knowing what to expect.

Microsoft knows that it's operating in a world where consumers have more choices than ever before, and they're trying to entice the consumer with a freemium model to keep their loyalty and engender a sense of relevance as it relates to the PC. Myself, I think it's going to (again) blow up in their face, encouraging yet more people to flee the Windows Experience for something else.