Windows 10. . .Getting Ready

So if you have been anticipating the release of Windows 10, you probably know it will be coming on July 29. You won’t have to run out to the local store to get it…it will be available as a downloadable upgrade. Maybe you want to move forward from Windows 7. Maybe you struggled with Windows 8 being so different from the Windows you knew. Maybe you are just excited about the possibilities of what you saw in the Technical Preview. If you are planning on upgrading your computer, you might want to be thinking about how you want to go about this.

I’ve done upgrades from as far back as DOS to Windows 3 and I thought I would share a little of what I have learned over the years in doing this kind of upgrade.

Step 1: Check to make sure it will work for you.

Sure, Windows 10 will run on a Raspberry Pi, but is it going to work on *your* computer? What about drivers? If you are running Windows 8, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about it. Windows XP…not so much (but then, you already knew that right?). If you are running Windows 7 SP1 or Windows 8.1 Update, when you sign up for your Windows 10 reservation, you will have the “Get Windows 10” application automatically installed via Windows Update. This application will help make your update easy and will confirm your compatibility.

Step 2: Back your stuff up!

Between now and the time you run the upgrade, you will want to do a backup. Backing up your personal stuff is something you should be doing already, right? If you aren’t taking advantage of it now, the internet is a great place to back your stuff up. From OneDrive and Dropbox for file synchronization to Carbonite for internet backups, there are some really easy ways to have your important stuff backed up and stored offsite.

If you are using a home server for backups, have you considered what would happen if a fire broke out? Just saying…there are enough options, and the price is right…if you can’t replace it, you need to be backing it up. Do it now!

Step 3: Decide To Pave or Not To Pave…

Now you have to decide whether you are going to do an “in-place” upgrade or do a “clean” install. There are pros and cons to each approach.

The “in-place” upgrade

Everything that you have now is left in place, and you just update the underlying operating system. This is how I have been working with the Technical Previews, and I personally haven’t had any issues with the stuff I already had installed. This is definitely the fastest way to get this done considering that you don’t have to reinstall all of the other software. BUT…

Clean Slate Approach

Consider the “clean” upgrade. Where are you coming from? Windows 7? Windows 8.1? What about all the stuff you installed the last couple of years. Things came. Things went. You installed that old game you never play anymore. You downloaded some “browser add-in” you didn’t know about.

Here’s a great opportunity to pave your machine with a clean install. Get back to the “lean” of what you really want on your machine. Sure, it will take some time to install all the right stuff, but with tools like http://ninite.com and https://chocolatey.org/ a lot of stuff may already be automated for you.

Drivers

If you take the “clean” install approach, you want to make sure that you have all of your drivers for your particular machine. Probably the most important will be your network drivers. If all else fails at least you can connect to the internet and get the latest drivers once you are back up and running.

Installation files

Again, since you wiped your machine, you will want to make sure that somewhere (on a thumb drive or external device) you have all the files you need to install your applications. You really don’t want to get your machine back up and running only to download that 2GB ISO image to install your programs. Do it now. For all you know, you can’t find the installation for that image editor, and you may not want to start that clean install after all.

License Keys

One more thing…don’t forget to make sure you know where your license keys are. You don’t want to get to the end of your install and realize you don’t have a license key anymore and you can’t get to it. Sometimes this is in an email if you made a digital purchase. Sometimes this is found in the “Help->About” menu. Regardless of where it is buried…you are going to need it if you take the clean install approach.

What I will be doing

I hate spending time installing software…no I loathe it!

That said, I also spend a lot of time trying a new stuff that I use for a really short period of time, then move on to the next thing. Beta software, trial versions, etc.

A major OS upgrade for me is a great time to start with a clean slate. Not only will I wipe my machines, I will use this as an opportunity to make a new base image to start with when I get too much “testing cruft” on my machine that things get wonky.

Step 4: Make it happen

Don’t wait for July 29…head over to http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade and reserve your upgrade now. This will get you started with the “Get Windows 10 App” to check your compatibility. Around July 29, you’ll get further instructions to download and install. This will be easy if you have done your homework.

Step 5: Have fun!

I don’t know about you, but I am really looking forward to Windows 10. No, this isn’t just because I work from Microsoft. This is because I have been using the Technical Preview for the last 4 months and really enjoy the productivity that it brings on a daily basis.
Here are some things I love the most:

Virtual Desktops

I used to have to install third party tools that gave me this functionality. These are great for me in that I can have an arrangement of Windows for things like my development environment on one desktop, and then have email and skype on another desktop and then twitter on a third desktop. I can now just switch desktops and have everything in a quick view rather than having to switch to the apps to bring them to the front.

Cortana

My wife is jealous. She says I talk more to Cortana than I do to her. Of course, she’s kidding, but I do rely on Cortana very heavily. Cortana watches my email on my phone to know that I am on flight 2166 and asks me to keep me up-to-date on any delays or changes. When my flight lands, she notifies me of the connecting gate. On my phone, Cortana keeps track of my schedule and traffic and tells me when I really need to leave to make it to a meeting on time. “Directions to [place of meeting]” and Cortana gets the directions and fires up Waze to get me there. Now that Cortana is on my desktop, I don’t even have to pick up my phone for my personal assistant to be right next to me!

Microsoft Edge

OK, I will say it now…I hate the days of bringing up my browser only for some web developer to tell me he thinks my choice of IE is a bad one and I should use Chrome because “he doesn’t support Microsoft’s browser” and that’s how he developed his website. So far, Microsoft Edge has been a good browser for me. Sure it’s still in Technical Preview, but I have had very few hiccups with it. And half the time, if I fell back to IE everything was fine, and if I had used one of the other browsers, the experience was just as awkward. That said, I am looking forward to not having to open Firefox, Chrome and IE depending on what website I am going to…that was just stupid!

Continuum

I fell in love with the Surface Pro 3 the day I saw the pen was back. I loved every version of my pen based tablet pc’s from the Toshiba to the HP to my SP3! The challenge came on my SP3 that I would go to the desktop and everything was hard to click because it was too small for my fingers. Now Windows knows when I am in “Tablet Mode” or in “Desktop Mode” and prompts me to confirm switching modes…and how I interact with the same applications.

Are you going to upgrade?

I am excited to see all of the work on Windows 10 finally hit the ground. Are you going to upgrade? Leave some feedback if you think I forgot something or what you like or don’t like about Windows 10.