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Tools Toys and Technology

About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

Tools Toys and Technology - About the Tools You Use and the Toys That Make Life Interesting

The Hazards of Being First in Line

Apple computer fans have become accustomed to frequent free revisions of the operating systems for their electronic companions. In fact, OS X El Capitan is expected to arrive this October. Android, Chromebook and Linux variations periodically produce free continuing revisions. The free upgrade to Windows 10 for current home users of Windows 7 and 8.1 has come as a welcome but puzzling surprise.

New operating systems typically have early “teething problems”. Some older software, peripherals (printers, scanners, fax machines) and components will not currently work with Windows 10. Out of the 5 computers I have upgraded, one now has sound system struggles – a popular complaint. Other frequent complaints are missing browser favorites, Wi-Fi connections dropped and difficulties with Firefox and Google Chrome. Many of these are accompanied by a cheerful new error message – “Something Happened!” One large “roll up” update has already arrived in less than a week, with another expected in October. Most remaining difficulties should be addressed well before the free upgrade offer ends on July 29, 2016.

Once getting past the hurdle of installing Windows 10, you will begin to discover hidden costs in the new system. Privacy is challenged. Analysts have identified 35 different ways that Microsoft now tracks your activities and preferences, all the better to carefully target advertising. Cortana will only work with Bing and the new Edge browser, further enhancing Microsoft advertising market share. The new Video, Groove Music and Xbox apps along with the Windows Store regularly encourage entertainment purchases. OneDrive urges you to buy more storage space and free Office apps push subscriptions to the full Office package.

Microsoft reported that 14 million computers were upgraded in the first 24 hours of availability. Were that to be equaled every day, the stated goal of one billion installations would be met in about two months! The brisk pace has slightly slowed, with about 25 million upgrades installed in the first week.

If you are eager to make the switch today, you can skip to the front of the line by entering “download windows 10” in your favorite search box to get started. Before upgrading, take a look at the analysis in the “Get Windows 10” program that popped up in July or visit the Microsoft Compatibility Center online for information on potential problem areas. It’s also wise to make a full backup of your current data and windows installation before getting started – it’s the cheapest insurance plan you can buy!

If you made the switch to Windows 10 and have come to regret that decision, you have 30 days to easily reverse course and return to your previous setup. Select Settings, go to Update & Security > Recovery. If you’re eligible to downgrade, you will see an option that says “Go back to Windows 7 (or 8.1)”. Cross your fingers and click “Get started.” Should you want to try Windows 10 again later, you can repeat the free Windows 10 upgrade until next July.