First Impressions – Windows 10

Windows 10

Over this past weekend, I decided to upgrade my new PC from Windows 7 to 8.1. Unfortunately, that transition broke just about everything and resulted in me needing to do a clean install. The worst part was that I hadn’t backed up any of my Steam games and lost all of my save files. Needless to say, I was a little frustrated. I  quickly decided that I didn’t want to stick with 8.1. After already having to do a clean install, I figured upgrading to 10 couldn’t be much worse. I’ve got to say, I have been pleasantly surprised.

*UPDATE: My Steam saves were fine. Just goes to show how long it’s been since I last played PC games.

As I mentioned, my upgrade to Windows 8.1 was a disaster. I normally never advise upgrades, but rather clean installs. I also always tell people to be sure and backup their data. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any of my own advice. Long story short, I lost my save data for the two games I’ve been working on. One of which, I was planning on writing about this week. Oh well, just gotta roll with the punches. Just be sure to learn from my mistakes. You should always backup your data, and you should usually do a clean install. Now, I just said usually, because when I switched over to Windows 10, I had a perfect upgrade.

I’m not saying that this will be the case for everyone, but I had nothing go wrong. It pulled all the drivers and upgrades it needed during the install. It impressed me early on simply by scaling correctly to my 4K monitor, something neither 7 or 8.1 did until I manually ran updates. Once the install finished, and I logged into my PC, everything was finished. I didn’t have to run updates, I didn’t have to mess with settings, and the scaling was even better than before. All I had to do was install a few programs that I just hadn’t taken the time to install after my clean install of 8.1. It was the easiest Windows OS install I’ve done yet.

Even though it is an easy process, there are some things you need to watch out for. There are a number of privacy related options that most people will want to turn off. If you choose the express option during installation, they will all be turned on by default. It’s worth it to take the time, select the custom option, and choose what options you’re alright with being on. Rock, Paper, Shotgun has a great guide to these privacy settings that you can find here. It’s always a good idea to take a look at the privacy settings on any device you’re using.

Windows 10 Start Menu

I really like this start menu

As I’ve already mentioned, the upgrade process itself is easy. Of course, what really matters is how it performs after the install. This version of Windows has the practicality and ease-of-use of 7 along with the style and aesthetics of 8. One of the first features you’ll notice is the return of the start menu. It’s a combination of the 7 start menu and 8’s tiles. It does a good job of automatically selecting programs and locations that will be most useful for the majority of users. I’m a little surprised to say it, but I actually like having apps pinned in the start menu. It works well as a catch-all for your most used apps. Also, it’s just really nice to click the start button and not be pulled away to completely different screen.

Speaking of apps; it’s easy to see that Windows 10 is a multi-platform OS. I’ve got a full tower desktop PC, and I saw tablet options in the settings menu. It makes sense given their approach to unifying all of their devices, but it’s a little strange while using a desktop. It’s going to take me a little while to get used to the idea of going to the Windows Store to check for an app instead of just going to a website to download the software. Of course, I’ll take more options than I need over not enough options. In fact, Windows 10 now comes with a Settings component in addition to Control Panel. Settings is basically a quick access menu for basic options whereas Control Panel is for more advanced options.

DirectX 12

This could be a big deal for PC games

Now that you know it’s easy to get set up and use Windows 10, it’s on to the really important stuff. Video games. The first big question to answer is: Will my games still work on Windows 10? Microsoft has put together a list of the games that have been tested and confirmed to work on Windows 10. You can peruse it here. This list will continue to update as more games are tested. There are a lot of games that run on 10, and I all the ones I care about are on that list. I can personally confirm that Dark Souls works with Windows 10. This is currently the oldest game in my Steam library so I was happy to see that it works.

The second big topic concerning games is DirectX 12. While games built specifically for DirectX 12 won’t be released until later this year, the components are ready and waiting in 10. DirectX 12 is projected to increase frame rate while decreasing CPU and GPU power consumption. Benchmark tests are already pointing to it being a pretty drastic improvement. This Christmas season should be a great time for PC gaming.

If after reading all of this, you want to upgrade to 10, you have two options:

  1. Click the little windows button in your system tray to reserve a copy of 10. Your hardware and programs will be reviewed for compatibility purposes, and then you will be notified that you can upgrade. The review process can take days or weeks according to Microsoft.
  2. Go here and download the media creation tool. You can download the Windows 10 ISO to a USB or Disc or select Upgrade Now. Personally, I downloaded 10 to a USB before upgrading so that I had the option of performing a clean install if necessary. This method requires no waiting. Just click and start the upgrade.

Once your upgrade finishes, you’re good to go. You can start playing around with Windows 10, a surprising accomplishment from Microsoft.

You can follow me on Twitter @jakecrump.

If you’d like, you can support my writing here.

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