Many people will know what it’s like to regularly click ‘close’ on the nagging Windows 10 ‘upgrade’ notification. It’s been happening every day for many months. But apparently something on one of these hundreds of fade-into-the-background notifications was different. It ‘upgraded’ me without me wanting it to or giving it permission to.
Now if there’s one thing I’ve learned since Windows 95 – you DO NOT UPGRADE WINDOWS.
[Quick note for noobs – when Microsoft says “upgrade” to Windows 10 it’s suggesting that doing so will improve the experience over using Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 – a highly-contentious claim which I won’t dwell on now. However, in technical terms, when you install a new Operating System you either do a ‘clean install’ which means you do it from scratch, building from the ground up, or you do an ‘upgrade install’ which dumps the new operating system - and all the old software installed on it - on top of the foundations of the old operating system – which is as stable as it sounds.]
Basically, when you do an upgrade install, you are left with an unstable turd of a platform that turns your PC into a crash-happy nightmare and some of your main programs stop working properly. Despite learning this early on, like an idiot, I have continued to do it with every single version of consumer Windows since 98. On every occasion, after suffering months of instability, I’ve had to eventually give up and do a fresh install – something that frequently coincides with many hours of tedium, locating software and usually, buying some new hardware. It’s a massive pain and something invariably breaks.
So while I’ve got nothing against Windows 10 per se, you might imagine my shock when I turned on my Windows 8.1 PC and saw the following screen.
Confused, I pressed Next and was presented with a license agreement which I wanted nothing to do with. So I clicked decline.
The following, almost-sarcastic window appeared which offered up the following ‘option’: “No thanks, I’ll pass on my free upgrade to Windows 10. Declining here means you’re saying no to the free upgrade to Windows 10. We’ll re-install your previous version of Windows but it might take a while. Here’s what you’ll miss out on: The speed and better security of Windows 10, Thousands of free apps in the Windows Store… and much more. Are you sure you want to decline?”
Seething isn’t the word for how I felt at this. As many desktop PC users will know, the Windows App store is little more than a confusing cesspool of a crap versions of otherwise perfectly usable software that you’ll often already own if you want to use it. One example is Skype. Rather than do the obvious thing of making one version of Skype that has both a desktop and a touchscreen interface, some oxygen thief thought they’d make two versions. Choose Skype from the Start Menu? You’ve literally got two choices. One fills the screen with a half-baked ‘App’ that doesn’t easily do what I want it to do. The other is the actual Skype I want. I don’t use it enough to remember which is which each time. I just know it annoys the heck out of me and I’ve always regretted moving from Windows 7 because of it. Anyway, back in the room…
Now if I’ve learned one thing over the years, one of the main ways to make a PC more unstable than it becomes after ‘upgrading’ the operating system, it’s winding back an installation of an operating system. It’s like unscrambling an omelette and the results on stability are equally predictable. There’s no way I was doing that. So I’m literally stuck with this Windows 10 upgrade.
Here’s the next screen…
The 'option' here is to install using Express Settings. Or nothing. If you DON’T want to use Express Settings for, what is your most important item of software, there is NO option to customize them. I’ve little idea what all the settings I was forced to upgrade to actually were, but now I have them. Some are listed on the screen. One is, “Automatically connect to suggested open hotspots and shared networks. Not all networks are secure.” So Microsoft is literally forcing me to agree to connect to networks that it knows might not be secure!
Then this happened…
“Meet Cortana. Cortana is your sidekick, ready to help with anything that keeps you super, heroic or just on time. To let Cortana do her best work, Microsoft collects and uses information including your location and location history, contacts, voice input, searching history, calendar details, content and communication history from messages and apps, and other information about your device. In Microsoft Edge, Cortana collects and uses your browsing history. You can always tinker with what Cortana remembers in the Notebook, disable Cortana in Microsoft Edge or turn Cortana off entirely.
I don’t know what she sent to Microsoft and I no longer trust her. This was only worsened with the recent announcement that support for Google and other browsers was being cancelled. Now “only its Microsoft Edge browser and Bing search engine will work with searches initiated through Windows 10 digital assistant.” Why would anyone want that?
Two choices: ‘Back’ or ‘Use Cortana.’
And that’s how I ended up with an “Upgrade version of Windows 10”
Less than ten minutes later, my PC which hasn’t crashed for as long as I can remember (with Windows 8.1) crashed…
But it doesn't end there.
Other programs are crashing – especially games it seems. It’s not too frequent but it’s not happened like this before. What’s most irksome is this, however:
Despite Microsoft’s Windows 10 promising that all my files and programs were where I left them, that doesn’t seem to include Microsoft’s own OneDrive. Once again Microsoft has utterly cocked up here so instead of using the existing 1.4GB of small files that are on my computer it wants me to set everything up from scratch all over again. The last time this happened was when SkyDrive was renamed to OneDrive. Rather than use the existing files and renaming the folder, it re-downloaded all 1.4GB of them and put them in new folders. It’s done that a few times for whatever reason and the old, full folders are still there. Now I have yet another folder to deal with. At some point I’ve got to wade through ALL of them to see which files might be missing from which places. I’m so very close to switching to Dropbox.
I don’t doubt that Windows 10 is a fast and stable Operating System when it comes from a clean install. It’s probably better than the misguided Windows 8, which seems to have been all about forcing people to buy a new touch-screen computer. At least Windows 10 harks back to Windows 7 more. I’m using Windows 7 on my work PC right now and, frankly, I’d rather have that for everything. Having Microsoft make important decisions about my privacy, security and choice of software means that there’s a big trust issue with this 'new' operating system (not helped with its online integration) that might not ever be overcome. And what other, sneaky privacy issues are being buried deep in the terms and conditions?
In addition to this, before this PC debacle, I tried upgrading a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet. After the upgrade it wouldn't connect to the internet - because the Microsoft wireless drivers weren't found. You couldn't make it up. I still have a Dell XPS 13 that's effectively dead because of the upgrade too.
While Windows 10 nagging will soon go away as the free “upgrade” offer closes, people still may suffer the fate of my computer. If that’s the case, it’s worth checking out Never 10 – an app that kills the upgrade nagging. Otherwise, on your daily rounds of clicking ‘close’ on the Windows 10 upgrade pop-up, just check that the window isn’t saying something like, “Click here if you don’t want to NOT upgrade any more.”