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The first 29 days of Windows 10

Scot Finnie | Aug. 27, 2015
One installation went well; the other one didn't.

Windows 10 upgrade installations aren't for the helpless. As a longtime Windows reviewer -- and even though I defected to the Mac some time ago -- I don't qualify as helpless. Still, it's surprising that, for a version of Windows on which Microsoft placed so much emphasis on upgrades, Windows 10 has a remarkable set of post-upgrade problems. I can't speak to the number of people dealing with severe issues, but the Internet is filled with posts from users running into slow boot-up times and/or slow operation of Windows 10 after upgrading from Windows 8.1 or Windows 7.

It happened to me with a Win8.1 upgrade on my kid's 20-month-old HP Envy quad-core 17-inch gaming laptop. Boot times tripled and Windows ran at a snail's pace (which my son describes as "lagging"). In investigating these symptoms, I discovered they were caused by multiple problems. I'll come back to that point shortly.

I also paid for a Windows 10 Home full license and installed the 64-bit version onto a VirtualBox virtual machine running on a MacBook Pro 15 Retina. That setup process went smoothly, and the result is a very fast, trouble-free installation of Windows. I have no complaints there.

First impressions of Windows 10

I didn't beta-test Windows 10, so my experiences with the new operating system are based on four weeks of testing since it shipped. I'm glad Microsoft finally made a version of Windows that can sense whether it's installed on a tablet or a laptop/desktop PC. To me, that's the No. 1 improvement in Windows 10; Microsoft should not have shipped Windows 8 without that ability. Windows 10's prettified Windows 7 interface doesn't wow me. There seems to be no real advantage to the tiles on the Start menu. Most of the rest of the changes on Start are meaningless and just hide functions from the user.

For example, even though Control Panel still exists, it's buried. There's a new Start menu item called Settings that's an overview of Control Panel, which becomes a guessing game, or perhaps more appropriately, a shell game. I'm not a big fan of having to resort to typing in menu and applet names that I'm looking for, yet I find myself doing that much more frequently in Windows 10 than any other version of Microsoft's OS -- so much so that I found the Web results mixed in with local results an annoyance. You have to be an advanced user to be frustrated by that kind of experience. I would have preferred a mildly upgraded Windows 7 Start menu, and therefore I'll probably wind up getting Stardock's Start10.

 

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