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Windows 10 review: Hold off if you use Windows 7

Woody Leonhard | July 30, 2015
After the truly wretched Windows 8 and marginally less wretched Windows 8.1, Windows 10 comes as a breath of fresh air.

Windows 10 brings back the Windows 7 Backup and Restore features, which were unceremoniously dropped from Windows 8/8.1. (Many people think Windows 7 had backup and restore nailed; Windows 8.1 eviscerated the features.) Windows 8-style Reset and Refresh are in Windows 10, too. You should check to make sure the Apple Time Machine-like File History feature is turned on (some people report it isn't on by default): type file history in Cortana and follow the crumbs.

Finally, the Windows Store is getting better, but only gradually. Microsoft has made several pronouncements about how the Windows Store is eliminating crapware, and the number of apps has decreased. Unfortunately, that isn't the whole story: While researching my Windows 10 book, I found many Windows Store apps that were embarrassing. They're still there today.

Developers have precious little incentive to build universal apps for the store. Peter Bright at Ars Technica put it succinctly: "If the only place that a Universal Windows App can easily reach is a Windows desktop user, developers may well be better off sticking to the ancient Win32 API (it's old and crufty, but much broader in scope than the Universal API), or even ditching the app entirely and building for the Web."

Management

Microsoft has created a wondrous deployment and patching infrastructure for Windows 10. But forced patches for those who aren't attached to servers stand out as a big sticking point. In the past week we've seen two dramatic examples of poorly constructed patches pushed down the automatic chute. Those went to beta testers, who should be accustomed to being treated like cannon fodder. We still don't know what will happen when bad patches hit the teeming masses.

There's an extensive discussion of deployment in the Microsoft Virtual Academy. As mentioned before, in-place upgrades look very clean. In a similar vein, the nondestructive Repair works well in my tests. Deployment has been well thought out, but many enterprises will be stuck with very different deployment models for Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.

The patching infrastructure has undergone massive changes, with the new Current Branch, Current Branch for Business, and Long Term Servicing Branch defining how updates get deployed. Mary Jo Foley at ZDNet has a good overview. The admins I know are concerned about the way the CBB and LTSB servers, and the "old" WSUS, will interact. It's a big unknown at this point.

On a micromanagement level, Windows 10 loses the Guest account, which may be of note to some. I'm more concerned about the general lack of changelogs and patching notifications. As best I can tell, none of the Windows Store apps from Microsoft have changelogs. It's very hard to say, right now, which version of a particular Windows Store app is the most recent, and how it differs from the last version. Windows Update, as we've known it for decades, no longer exists, and with its departure Windows users won't be able to tell which patches have been applied.

 

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