The deadline for a free copy of Windows 10 is tomorrow, Friday the 27th of July, 2016. Go get your copy now, if you’re interested in owning it.
Windows 10 was released in July last year and you still don’t have it? Come on. Microsoft is going to throw Windows 8 under the bus in a few years – support ends in 2020 – and Windows 10 comes with all sorts of benefits.
For small businesses, Windows 10 is a nice step in the right direction. If you’re a heavy Microsoft Office user, there are even more reasons to jump on the boat. Windows 10 comes with Microsoft account integration, giving you easy access to the Microsoft cloud, where you can store and manage your documents.
Microsoft also learned from the lukewarm reception of Windows 8. If you’ve been longing for a Start menu since your earlier upgrade, 10 brings it back. It now features Cortana, Microsoft’s search assistant, to help you find files and programs more easily. If you like talking to your computer.
Windows 10 is also the death knell for Internet Explorer, possibly the least enjoyed bit of the web since Anglefire – just discovered that Angelfire is still a thing. The new built-in browser is called Edge, and it’s a completely new piece of software. So far, people seem to be happier with Edge than with IE – admittedly the bar wasn’t high.
We’ll cover a few of the benefits for small businesses, explain the installation, and then you can read my own experience with installing and running Windows 10. Spoiler alert – it took longer than expected.
Microsoft 10 for small businesses
People love Google. Let’s talk about this right out of the gate. Either you’re a company that uses Microsoft Word or you’re a company that relies on Google Docs. It’s the Beatles and the Stones, chocolate and vanilla, cats and dogs, etc.
Google-heavy users may get something out of the new layout, increased speed, or just knowing that everything is up-to-date, but this isn’t going to make or break your productivity. I’d still recommend it, just to make sure you’ve got the most secure and speedy system available, but it’s not a must-do.
If you’re an Office fan, though, there’s all sort of loveliness in here.
At the basic level, you’ve got nice little tools like Snap, which allows you to arrange program windows quickly to see more information – we called this “tiling” back in my day. The whole Windows 10 vibe is “get more information more quickly.”
Office users can use Cortana to generate notes, setup meetings, and search using voice recognition. You can also do quick conversions or see your upcoming travel details. Cortana reaches into your data and turns it into a resource instead of just a repository.
A note. Windows 10 has gotten some flak for collecting a meaningful amount of personal data. This is true. If you don’t want to tell the system all about yourself, fiddle with the privacy settings until you’re happy.
Windows 10 also self-updates, allowing you to just sit back and let the fixes roll in. That’s helping it be one of the more secure Windows environments ever to hit the market.
Reasons you wouldn’t update
Updating isn’t going to be for everyone. ZDNet’s David Gewirtz has said he’s sticking to Windows 7 on his devices. “They work, they’re rock solid, and all their drivers are perfectly tuned to the hardware they’re running on.”
If your business relies on specialized software or software that you remember taking weeks to finally sort out on your computers, upgrading might not be a great call. When you change operating systems, things break.
With more and more software being piped in from the cloud, there’s a lot that you might not have to worry about. However, lots of folks want to hold on to that photo editor from 2002 that just barely, barely works on Windows 7 because you downloaded that other thing from that place. Windows 10 could well break that tenuous system.
This is also a time and energy consuming process. We’ll talk details in a second, but there’s over three gigs of stuff to download and install. It takes time. Older PCs are going to take even longer, and the benefits for your ten-year-old desktop might not outweigh the costs.
There’s also a learning curve – although not nearly as steep as the Windows 8 curve – for users. The layout is different, the menus are slightly changed, and everything just feels a little more modern. If that’s not time you want to spend understanding, this might be one to skip out on.
How to upgrade to Windows 10
If you’ve managed to squeak in under the deadline for a free copy of Windows 10, you’ll just go to the Windows 10 site and hit the “Upgrade” link. If you’ve missed the deadline or don’t qualify for a free upgrade, you’ll be out $120 for the Home version or $200 for the Pro version.
You’ll download an installer, which will check your computer and then download the actual system. The computer check will make sure you’ve got all the basics in place for running the new version of Windows.
- 1 GHz processor or faster
- 1 GB RAM for 32-bit; 2 GB for 64-bit
- Up to 20 GB available hard disk space
- 800 x 600 screen resolution or higher. DirectX 9 graphics processor with WDDM driver
The rest of the process is pretty boring. Everything happens. You can read my experience below, but it’s largely my thinking that nothing is happening, finding out that something is happening, and then being surprised that there is still more to be done. Somehow.
You can roll back to your previous version if you hate Windows 10, by the way. There’s a pretty simple system built into Windows 10 to get you back in time within the first 30 days of installation. After that, you’ll have to do it the old fashioned way.
Windows 10 is an operating system and, therefore, massive. This isn’t Porteus, this is a three gig download that requires somewhere between 10 and 20 gigs to install. So the first 35 minutes of my installation is just waiting for the thing to materialize on my hard drive. I drink a coffee.
Now we’re going! Oh and now we’re stopping. Apparently I had my antivirus software on – silly me – and Windows 10 wasn’t loving it. Disabled and back on track.
Around the 45 minute mark, the screen tells me that it’s “Preparing.” Now we’re looking for updates. Alright, this seems like a totally fine amount of time.
Ha ha. Of course I am kidding. This is the creepy Harry Potter-esque dance that ends the opening ceremonies. The games have yet to begin.
An hour into this and now Windows is “Making sure [I’m] ready to install.” It’s like kicking a guy out the back of an airplane and then yelling after him, “Did you get a parachute?” I have another coffee.
Twenty minutes later and we’re rebooting for the first time. This is part of the process,as Windows will reboot your system a few times along the way. I thought my first reboot was happening earlier, but it was just my screen going to sleep.
Well, it’s been two hours and things are still happening? I’ve been looking at this same screen for ten minutes and nothing has changed. Maybe I’m dreaming. If I was dreaming, I could have a piece of cake. No cake appears. Shoot, not a dream.
I have a third coffee.
Three hours after the download began, we finally cross the finish line. It took a long time – I’m running a Lenovo laptop with a 2.4 gig processor and eight gigs of RAM, by the way – but it wasn’t at all painful. I’m bored and my fourth cup of coffee pushed me over the line so I’m shaking, but it wasn’t painful.
Once I’m in the system, it’s a pleasant place. Similar to Windows 7 – my previous edition – but with a few new bells and whistles sprinkled about. Cortana wants to be everything and everywhere, and I sort of love that idea.
So far, a positive experience.
Have you upgraded at home or at the office? Let me know how it all worked out in the comments below. Good luck.