The time period for the free upgrade to Windows 10 ends at midnight on the 29th July. After that Microsoft will charge you £99 ($119) for the Home edition and £130 ($199) for the Pro. The upgrade has got to be a no-brainer right? Well, not necessarily. As musicians and music makers we like things to be more predicable if your computer runs your studio and your livelihood. Here’s 5 reasons why you should upgrade to Windows 10 and 5 reasons why you shouldn’t.
Windows 10 upgrade: yes, bring it on…
- Vast improvement over Windows 8/8.1. Windows 8 was a bit of a misfire and while the 8.1 version corrected a lot of issues it still remained confusing to most people. However, it also brought a lot of good underlying technology. Windows 10 builds on that technology and does the user interface right. It’s now effortless as a desktop OS and effortless as a tablet OS. What they tried to do in 8 they totally achieved in 10. So if you have Windows 8 or 8.1 then go and upgrade right now. If your music software and hardware worked on 8 then it will work on 10. I can think of no reason to stay.
- Massively improved file manager. I bet you had no idea there was anything wrong with the file manager in Windows 7. The changes in Windows 10 are small and subtle but make navigation and management so much easier. Things like pausing file operations, managing conflicts and mounting ISO disc images are very cool.
- Windows Store and Universal Windows Platform applications. A lot more productivity and entertainment software is coming via the Windows store. These apps no longer take you to a full screen as they did with Windows 8. You can resize and run them in regular windows. They are simple to install and manage and will be available on any Windows 10 box you log into. Can you imagine doing that with a DAW? Although music production Windows Store apps are currently rare there are notable exceptions like StaffPad and yMIDI. And with Microsoft porting full Xbox games to the store it will follow that more software will be delivered this way which will make the world of installing, configuring and moving software so much simpler.
- Managing Windows. By this I mean a number of things in the way Windows 10 handles they physical display and the management of open windows. You can use the Task View Interface to sort and view all your open windows and even place them onto different virtual desktops. Something Mac and Linux users have been able to do for years. The management of multiple displays is greatly improved including the scaling options for high-DPI screen. You could potentially have a Cubase project running on one desktop, the mixer console on another and Reason on another and easily switch between them.
- It’s the future init. Probably the most logical reason is that Windows 10 is the future of the PC operating system. It continues to evolve and improve. As we see new technology arrive, new audio interfaces and new protocols, we need an OS that’s going to be up to the task of giving us the tools to use it. The ability to take your profile across multiple devices is extremely useful when switching from desktop to laptop to tablet or even phone. Windows 10 will continue to be compatible with your stuff and the software and hardware you need to make music. It will also be more secure in terms of the ever changing nature of virus and malware attacks – an updated OS is vital in today’s connected world.
Windows 10 upgrade: no, thanks…
- Windows 7 is all I need right now. Yes, Windows 7 was an awesome operating system, probably the best one Microsoft had ever produced – although it was Service Pack 1 that really nailed it. If you have a perfect, stable and awesome Windows 7 based studio and you don’t see yourself changing much down the line then stick with what works.
- I have some old music software or hardware that doesn’t work on Windows 10. Then stay with Windows 7. Although the nag screens are very annoying you really don’t have to upgrade, especially if it’s going to mess up what you use.
- Privacy. It’s true that in Windows 10 Microsoft harnesses telemetry to gather data on how the OS is being used. It’s very helpful for them to know if something is crashing on lots of machines because they can more easily and speedily fix it. In fact if musicians want Microsoft to care about what works for them then we need to allow them to gather this sort of data. As we’ve traditionally turned these sort of things off on our Windows 7 boxes Microsoft have never known about our woes. This sort of data gathering is done by everyone – Apple, Google, Linux etc. it’s completely common place and not malicious. But if that’s a worry to you then you should steer clear. It should be noted that you can run Windows 10 on a standard user account, without an email address and never access the internet.
- Updates. In order for Windows 10 to continue to work and evolve Microsoft have decided that updates are no longer optional. If you’ve ever worked in IT tech support you’ll know that much of the time the issues being experienced can be fixed with an update. Microsoft aims to remove the issues before you encounter them. However, it’s possible that an update could mess up something on your system. Or it may choose to reboot and install it at an inopportune moment. I recently heard a system showing the weather report on TV decided to reboot and install an update during transmission – could be an urban legend but that’s the sort of thing people worry about. Opting for the Pro version of Windows 10 gives you a bit more control over when the updates are installed but you still have to have them.
- You have an old system. If your system is 5 years old or more then it’s possible that some drivers may no longer exist for your computer. It’s probably worth leaving that kind of system as it is and move to Windows 10 when you get your next computer.
Personally I’ve enjoyed the move to Windows 10. I’ve upgraded a number of different systems – desktops, laptops and tablets – with no ill effects. The interface is snappy, it boots fast and nothing gets in the way of what I want to do. All my music production software, plug-ins and hardware have worked flawlessly. When I work with Windows 7 now I find it slow and clunky in comparison – funny how that happens. So it gets a big thumbs up from me. However, if you don’t fancy it, don’t want it, can’t be bothered with the whole thing then don’t do it. Stick with what you have and be happy.
What I would suggest though is even if you are not that keen you should claim the free upgrade in case you want to install it later. All Microsoft needs is to recognise your system via the upgrade process and then you can run whatever you want. So, if you make a backup of your system now you can go through the upgrade process and then put your old system back on afterwards. Microsoft will now have your system ID and will allow you to install and authorise Windows 10 on it any time you like – but do it before the 29th July!
To backup your system I’d recommend Paragon Backup and Recovery free.
For more information about the Windows 1o upgrade click here.