Saturday, April 16, 2016

Windows 10? Or Not?

If you're buying a new machine (that isn't an Apple) then it'll almost certainly be coming to you with Windows 10 already installed, although some retailers are still selling hardware with Windows 8.1 or even Windows 7 pre-installed.

On the other hand, you may own an older PC already and be thinking of upgrading from Windows 7 or Vista, or XP .....

Well, firstly take a look at what you'll need in the way of hardware (see ZDNet's take - I would have added Microsoft's recommendations but their links are broken!). For those about to take the upgrade plunge please read this article first, as the rules changed at the end of 2015! You still only have until around July 2016, though, for the freebie!

  1. Processor: 1 gigahertz (GHz) or faster.
  2. RAM: 1 gigabyte (GB) (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  3. Free hard disk space: 16 GB.
  4. Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver.
  5. A Microsoft account and Internet access.

Now at this point I should 'fess up: I'm running a 2.8 GHz machine with 32 GB or RAM and 2 TB of disc. However, I'm not running Windows on that - I'm only running Windows in a virtual machine from Oracle, called VirtualBox. Here's what Windows 10 thinks about it (right and below).
As you can see, it's not a particularly new cpu (2011), but Windows 10 is getting a pair of threads, 8 GB of RAM, and, in this case, some 45 GB of "disc". Roughly the equivalent of many Windows 7 machines that will be getting upgraded to Windows 10.

Well, the purpose of this post is to walk you through my upgrade experience, so you can have some idea of how yours might go.

1. How I started. 
In this case I started with a totally clean machine and installed a copy of 64-bit Windows 7 Pro onto it. I started with 45 GB of virgin disc and filled a fair amount of it with Windows 7. I installed just one program - the Magic Jelly Bean Finder that you can use to discover the product key of your OS - always a good thing to have if it's worn off the bottom of your laptop!
2. The first problem.
After installing Windows 7 I immediately started the upgrade process and equally quickly got told "You can't upgrade from a copy of Windows that isn't activated"!  Oh well!  So I sat down and wasted a little more time activating my copy of Windows 7 that I was never going to use.
3. Upgrades and Updates
You'd think that a whole new operating system would come with all the latest patches, etc. Well, maybe, but in this case it quietly refused to install until I'd loaded all the Important updates for Windows 7. Just what it needs all those Windows 7 patches for is completely beyond me, but still, it's obviously nice to have them.
4. Starting Over
So, after putting the Windows 7 machine on to take all the necessary patches and updates, I went to bed. There was over two foot of snow outside, and it was still chuckin' it down, so I really wan't up to waiting!
5. Next Morning ... Installing!
Next morning, after digging out a friend, and her neighbour, and my neighour, and my car, and my wife's car, and the car of a random stranger who was making heavy weather of digging hers out, I took the afternoon off and drank hot chocolate (thank you Wegman's for stocking Cadbury's!). I alsos topped by the computer, woke up the Windows 7 VM that I'd made the day before, found it happily updated, and started the upgrade to Windows 10 again. 
There are two ways to get Windows 10 - as an ISO disc image that you burn to a DVD and then use to install from, or you can download the web installer from the same page that you can find the ISO image download in, and choose to upgrade your PC. That's what I did.
For the next five minutes or so I got practice in clicking the Next button, screen after screen, and adding the odd bit of information, like my name and the time zone. Then there was the install, so I waited about an hour for that - if you're doing it on a standard machine it may be quicker - don't forget I was using a virtual machine! It also reboots a number of times, but appears to "know what it's doing, because at the end you can log into the machine you just installed - using your Microsoft account and password!
It is possible to install the upgrade and keep the original machine user name and password - which is what I did.  However, there are some nice features that you don't get unless you're logged in to Windows 10 with a Microsoft  identity.

So that was it - very simple. So you can go and get a legal copy of Windows 7 and put it on your (older) machine and, if it performs satisfactorily, I'd bet that you can just sail into Windows 10.

Fun Surprises
Sometimes an operating system can surprise you! For example, a few days after installing, it was time for Windows 10 to load some patches. I started the machine and it obviously looked out to somewhere in Microsoftland and found things it needed to do. I was left with a blank black screen during the boot process for a couple of minutes, and then this!
before the normal login appeared and I could log in again.
Once it you are normally greeted with a blank screen with whatever icons you may have placed there, and a menu bar. I've mooved mine to the right, as you'll see. Left-clicking on the Windows 10 icon that takes the place of the old Windows Start button gets you this layout, rather similar to Windows 8,
and left-clicking it again will clear off all those flat panes again.  However, right-clicking it gives you the left-hand screengrab - the complete menu with most of the links into the control panel. 

It also offers you "Search", a way of searching for programs, files, etc. I tried it out after installing SQL Server 2016 and the screengrab on the right was what I got - not bad! In fact, a lot more useful that what you get with a Windows 7 search from the File Explorer.
You can still, of course, return to the command prompt ... there isn't an icon or menu choice for that, but you can create yourself a shortcut to cmd.exe which works very well!
Here's the output from running the command prompt, and searching for the substring "SQL" anywhere - first the command and then the result:
cd \       
      dir *sql*.* /P /S

Windows 10 echoes the command you just ran to the header bar of the window. As you can see, it's finding every file with "sql" in the name. So, many things haven't changed - if you learned to use the command prompt while the engineers at Xerox PARQ were creating the Xerox Alto machine with its graphicl interface that Microsoft and Apple stole and turned into their interfaces, then a little bit of that life survives!

No comments: