31 July 2015

Living Dangerously: 12 Thoughts on Windows 10 After Day 1

I like to live dangerously - at least in terms of upgrading my technology.  Call it reckless.  Call it crazy.  I just like playing with new things.  This is exactly why I decided to upgrade my 3-year old Windows 7 machine to Windows 10 the day it came out

While I do upgrade spontaneously, I also upgrade responsibly.  I made sure I squared away all of my backups.  Yes, that is plural - I have a local backup drive and a cloud backup service.  This girl doesn’t mess around when it comes to my data.

Initially, I really hated the new OS.  The upgrade process took forever.  Both during and after the update, my computer was so loud that sounded like it was about to be cleared for takeoff and so hot that I thought it would spontaneously combust.  Everything was slow.  I mean, s. l. o. w.

And then I started tweaking the computer.  I uninstalled a bunch of old applications and upgraded others.  Here are a bunch of lessons learned from this process:

  1. Uninstall the Intel Rapid Storage application.  You cannot (and really should not) uninstall the IAStorDataSvc driver, but the application has a lot of monitors and settings that are known to cause high CPU usage.  I mean really, really high.  Uninstalling this application took my computer from ”on fire” to “I can actually sit with my laptop in my lap”.

  2. Uninstall your stash random unused applications. You should be doing this regardless of upgrading to Windows 10, but upgrade day is always a good day to do this.

  3. Clean up the list of applications and services that start up when you turn on your computer.  Lots of applications like to hide in this list so that they are already running when you decide to use them.  The issue is when you have 10 or 20 (or more) of these applications, your computer just lags - both on startup and in general.  I use CCleaner to view and clean up, but there are lots of other applications that will help you out as well.  Just be sure you know what you are disabling on startup so that you do not disable something important.  When in doubt, Google the name.

  4. The start menu is amazing!  You can customize this area to your heart’s content. You can sort and order your start up pins and live tiles.  You can turn live tiles on and off.  (I recommend only having a couple live tiles on, especially if you have a slower computer.)  You can make the menu larger or smaller by dragging the top and right edges.

  5. Having a Microsoft account seems to be required.  Or, at least, strongly preferred.  This clearly stems from the fact that this OS is very mobile-focused.  (It has applications that will sync with your phone, read your texts, use touch events, etc.)  Great if you have a touch screen, but not exactly helpful on my 3-year old laptop.

  6. Notifications like to kid with you.  My notifications icon seems to always say that I have new notifications.  Even when I do not.  This appears to be a bug.

  7. New applications will take forever to start.  At least, this is true for the first time you use a new application.  It is much better after subsequent uses.  Just be patient for that first one.

  8. Cortana seems fun.  Like Siri (yes, I am an iPhone user), Cortana seems to be a fun feature, but since I do not usually talk to my laptop (unless I am coding, but in that case, I really do not want it to answer back), Cortana does not appear to be particularly useful in the laptop world.

  9. WAMPserver will not start up.  Be warned if you happen to need an *AMP stack on your computer.  I am still working on this - a process that appears to require installing Microsoft Visual C++ and one that I do not feel like doing right now.

  10. Fonts in older applications will look weird and grainy.  Newer applications look beautiful.  Older applications, not so much.  For some reason, the developers of Office 2010 and Quicken 2012 did not take Windows 10 into account.  Geez people.  But seriously, if you are using older applications, be prepared to either deal with them looking a little gross or upgrade if it really bothers you.  The plus side is that 95% of my applications seem to be completely functional after the upgrade.

  11. Take advantage of the Microsoft store for utility apps.  There are a lot of free apps in the store and I have definitely been taking advantage of that - from Adobe Photoshop Express to LastPass to Dropbox.  All applications I used before - but faster (at least, after the first usage).

  12. Virtual desktops have arrived! They are functional and this totally just made my year.

Overall, I am really impressed with Windows 10.  At least, I am now that I have spent 24 hours tweaking my computer like mad.  Much of my need to tweak was the fact that I do have older applications on an older machine.  (The fact that a 3-year old machine is “older” is a topic for another day.)  Not Microsoft’s fault.  (Did I really just say that?)

Actually, I am quite impressed that the OS works as well as it does.  None of my data was lost.  The vast majority of my applications work.  And I have found a slew of new, free apps.

So far, so good.  Let’s hope it stays this way.