Horse Sense #127

Windows 10 is NOT a Free Lunch!

[When this came out in e mail form, it bore the inaccurate Horse Sense 126 number when it is 127, sorry!]

Windows 10 is Available Tomorrow!

Windows 10 comes out 7/29/15 and will be available as a free upgrade for many. System builders will start selling Windows 10 PCs tomorrow as well. New copies of Windows 10 will sell at approximately the same price as Windows 7, 8 or 8.1. Larger workplaces will upgrade to Windows 10 gradually over the next year. Few large workplaces will adopt it within the next couple of months. Windows 10 for phones will come out later in the year.

Tony's Perspective

I have never run a beta version of Microsoft's operating systems. The following is gleaned from people I trust to beta test Windows better than I would, Microsoft documents, peer reviewed materials, reseller training and information, and what I know of previous Windows operating systems and upgrading them in environments ranging from the individual consumer to large organizations. [I wish to especially thank William Hersh at D&H Distributing for his valuable insights.]

Microsoft normally puts out a ton of information when transitioning to a new operating system. Unlike previous releases, there is a lot less available information this time, especially as relates to corporate and reseller needs. While what I say here is important, there are a lot of questions that we do not have the answers to at the moment. Furthermore, this article is meant to be of the widest possible use, so I am not going to delve deeply into many topics. If you need more help deciding what to do and how to do it, please call on us. [I had to “rush to press” with this information, so if it seems not as polished as my usual Horse Sense, I'm sorry!]

Basic Recommendations

(1) Plan for the worst. Hope for the best. Read this document and what others have written. Make an image of your system before upgrading it. Though the upgrade process appears faster, easier, more reliable, and ends up with results you expect more often than not when compared to previous operating system upgrades, taking reasonable precautions is never a bad idea.

(2) Consider starting over completely with a fresh install of Windows 10 or even a brand new system. Upgrades do not always work as advertised and sometimes when they do work, things could be better.

Installing an operating system from scratch can take a lot more time than an in place upgrade, especially if you have to install multiple programs again and migrate all the data. But, the pain and trouble you go through upgrading is nothing compared to the amount of time and effort you will spend using the software. Upgrades may be the easier way to go, but I have historically seen a fresh install of the new operating system has speed, compatibility, stability, security, and other benefits. Ongoing support costs also tend to be lower.

(3) The Windows 10 update is an *optional* update. You do not have to do anything now or ever. You must specifically install the Windows 10 update. Your Windows 7 and 8 operating systems will be supported for years to come. You do not have to make the change quickly or at all.

For most, I recommend a wait and see approach. Windows 10 *is* a significant upgrade, but I do not expect it to improve the productivity of my business clients much. Think of Windows 10 as a new car. Right now your old car can get you from place to place fine. It looks like Windows 10 might have some nice features to make it easier, more pleasant, etcetera, but it will still be a car that gets you from place to place.

To take advantage of the new features in Windows 10, you will have to learn a new way of doing things. Unless a feature is a must have, you can invest in Windows 10 when it is (in-) convenient. If your old PC dies unexpectedly, you will be forced to decide whether it is more reasonable to replace just the operating system or to buy a new PC with a new Windows 10 operating system on it.

If in doubt, do not do the upgrade, have a trusted advisor like us do it, or bite the bullet and get new equipment with Windows 10 on it (from us, of course). Operating systems are very expensive in terms of how much time must be spent doing the upgrade and ensuring everything works as intended. In addition, the person who gets the upgrade will need to learn how to use the new operating system to its best advantage.

Expense and frustration can climb if the person doing the upgrade is not used to system upgrades. Most organizations have outside companies do their upgrades and new installations because this one time task is not a good use of their internal computing talent.

How To Get Windows 10 Free

Windows 10 will be available as a free download to most valid owners of Microsoft Windows versions 7 and above from 7/29/15 to 7/28/16. This upgrade version license will never expire. Machines sold during the next year with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 on them will be upgradable to Windows 10 for free during this time period, though many manufacturers will start offering Windows 10 loaded on their machines almost immediately.

This does NOT mean that the upgrade is completely free. Like any operating system upgrade, the real cost will be in the labor it takes to do the job and the hardware and software you might need to replace, reinstall, or remove.

Most home users who installed all the optional upgrade patches from Microsoft have an icon in the lower right hand corner of their screen that looks like Windows Start. Clicking on that allows them to find out a little about Windows 10 and reserve their free upgrade. If you have not downloaded all the available patches, you might not see that icon. For *business* users, however, it is less likely that they will see the icon at all because Microsoft knows that businesses want systems to update on their schedule, not Microsoft's.

Will you be upgrading 7/29/15? Probably not. 3+ gigabytes (GB) takes 6.5 hours to download at 1 megabit per second (Mbps). This huge download poses a problem for the Internet service providers and the servers delivering the updates. Microsoft will stagger the Windows 10 upgrade rollout in an attempt to avoid overwhelming your routers, the Internet service providers, and their own servers. Your PC should advise you when your Windows 10 upgrade is ready. Business users probably will download master upgrade code and use it to upgrade lots of machines at once. Yes, individuals who have a lot of machines can do that, too.


Upgrading to Windows 10 sounds as simple as downloading patches to your operating system, but this is a completely new operating system. Once the upgrade is successful, you will not be able to change your mind and go back to your previous setup. Unless you have all the necessary installation software and license keys or have made a complete image of your system, you have no way to get your old system back.

Will the upgrade be problem free? Nope. Nothing is ever that simple and you know it. The most likely problems are likely to come from the following sources:

(1) Older software might be incompatible with Windows 10. Older hardware may rely on drivers or software specific to an older operating system and may not function with Windows 10. Newer hardware and software is fairly likely to work fine. You can run a check to see whether Microsoft thinks your software, drivers, and hardware will all work. Take the results of this test with a grain of salt. Microsoft does not write hardware drivers, manufacturers do. If you have a question about or problem with a driver, check with the manufacturer first.

(2) The smaller the market for the software, the more likely it is to be a problem. Line of business or specially developed software may have some issues. If you run special software (accounting software, electronic medical records, etc), check with the developer to see if it will work on Windows 10.

(3) Some mass market software may fail entirely or not work as expected. The most likely culprits are ones that dig heavily into how the operating system works. Security, anti-malware, backup, and utility software is likely to fail utterly or have issues. So check first before upgrading to Windows 10 or before using that software. You *may* be able to install with your antivirus software installed, but most professionals recommend you remove it before upgrading. Your upgrade will be more likely succeed and take less time. Afterwards, reinstall your antivirus software.

(4) Manufacturer specific software that shipped with your PC will often be incompatible with the upgrade and will often be removed. Windows 10 probably will not need it anyway. *Most* software and all of your custom settings and data should survive the upgrade intact.

(5) Windows 10's new web browser, called Edge, has been completely redesigned to be more secure. Its logo is so similar to that of Internet Explorer, you might not notice the difference. It does not run Java or Flash at all which makes it much more secure since many intrusions exploit those applications. Using Edge will mean that sites that depend on these applications will not work. The Edge browser will cause more compatibility issues than any other software on your machine. You can get around these compatibility issues by using Internet Explorer 11 (also installed on Windows 10) or download another browser for Windows 10.

(6) Windows 32, Android, and iOS applications can all run on Windows 10 and many will be in the Windows Store. Some applications may need modifications to run correctly under Windows 10, so do not assume full compatibility.

(7) The upgrade process is not quick. 3+ GB takes over 6.5 hours to download at 1Mbps. You might want to move your computer to a faster Internet connection before calling for the upgrade. Once downloaded, installation might take an hour or more. While a faster processor helps with the installation time, a solid state drive will cut the install time enormously. If you lose your connectivity, have a power glitch, or if your system decides to sleep in the middle of the upgrade process, at best you will need more time to finish the task. At worst, it is possible you could end up with a nonfunctional machine.

(8) Upgrading to Windows 10 may cause a catastrophic failure if your Windows system is already misbehaving. Even if the upgrade does not fail, any "warts" you currently have will likely be carried over into Windows 10. If you have any doubts at all about whether the system will perform reliably or well after the upgrade and you still want to upgrade, consider wiping out your system entirely and installing Windows 10 from scratch.

(9) Unfortunately, the free upgrade path does not allow you to skip the upgrade process and just erase your system and start over. Whether you upgrade via the on line method or by downloading the upgrade code, you will not get your valid Windows 10 installation key until you install the upgrade itself. Only then will you be able to do a fresh install. You cannot use your old Windows key and do a fresh install directly unless you purchase a Windows 10 new or upgrade license.

(10) You can only upgrade a 32 bit version of Windows to a 32 bit Windows 10 and a 64 bit version of Windows to a 64 bit Windows 10. If you have 32 bit and want to change to 64 bit (do this only if you have more than 4GB of memory or plan to add it soon), then you will have to wipe the disk and perform a fresh installation of Windows 10.


Not all Windows 10 features will be available after the upgrade. If you do not have a touch screen monitor, Windows 10 will not magically make it a touch screen. Furthermore, not all older devices will be able to run Windows 10. In general, the upgrade may not work if you have not upgraded your Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 computer appropriately or your hardware is not up to snuff. Since Windows 10 has minimum requirements of a single core 1GHz processor, 60 GB of hard disk space, and 1 GB of RAM, most existing machines will meet the requirements. Always remember that Microsoft's minimum requirements mean "this will technically work, but you will hate life." Still, Windows 10 will tend to run *better* on the same machine than Windows 7, 8, or 8.1. In general, Windows 10 will be more secure, more stable, perform better, and take less memory and hard disk space. Windows 10 takes up "only" 3.8GB of hard disk space, which is markedly less than the operating systems it replaces.

For More Information

I plan to put out more information on Windows 10 very soon. If you need help, have questions, or have a suggestion or comment, I would like to hear from you at or by phone.

©2015 Tony Stirk, Iron Horse