Windows 10 is out. Microsoft is pushing it as “the last Windows” in the sense that there will be no more major updates life we’ve seen in the past. Instead, MS will issue regular support patches. The system will look a lot more like the service packs they’ve sent out for past versions of Windows than major revisions. Because of this, it’s really important that you know about all the reasons you should be cautious of Windows 10.
It’s a great operating system that has been getting good reviews, and it shows that Microsoft is really invested in a quality product. For example, they are working with Hortonworks to create a Windows-compatible Hadoop BI release for big data analysis, and the security is built to frustrate advanced persistent threats. But before you upgrade, you need to understand there are still major problems with the system. That way you can decide if you want to jump in now or wait until MS fixes or changes the problematic behavior. You might also decide to go for the upgrade now. In that case, we can explain why you might want to turn off some of Windows 10’s features.
Support: Automatic Updates Cannot Be Stopped
First of all, let’s talk support. One of the constants for Microsoft has been that they tend to implement top-down solutions and force both developers and users to accept their decisions. Support is no exception to this rule.
Windows 10 brings a new feature by which all driver updates are now fully automatic and go through Microsoft. There are some upsides to this: no more hunting around on the web for exactly the right display driver to run a game. In theory this should force vendors to write good drivers. In practice, a bad display driver that made it through the update process has already caused problems by making some Windows 10 computers unusable! The automatic updater features makes it almost impossible to remove the driver. It’s also not clear what happens when there are multiple good drivers for one piece of hardware, as often happens with design and 3D modeling tools.
Microsoft seems pretty committed to this feature, so it might be a good idea to back off for a while until vendors can start putting out consistently good drivers. Otherwise, you might lose a lot of time if you get a bad driver pushed on you.
Privacy: Vague About Data Collection
Next, privacy. It’s a big issue these days, and Windows 10 is no exception. First of all, Windows 10 comes with a new privacy agreement that has broad language. You can read it yourself- Microsoft is pretty vague about the limitations they place on themselves as to what data they will collect and share.
One area of concern is Cortana. The virtual assistant tracks a lot of your usage habits across apps as well as your browsing history and location info. It’s all done to improve your experience, according to MS, but it is up to you to decide if you want to opt out.
Information: Automatic Sharing with Your Friends
Even aside from Cortana, Windows 10 does a lot to collect data from you and share it. It has a feature that automatically shares your wifi login information with your friends on Skype and Facebook that are in the range of your wifi. That makes it easy for them to connect if they visit, but you might not want that information out of your direct control. (Note that they never see the plaintext password- this is a computer-to-computer interaction). Still, though, you might want to turn it off if you have a wide social network.
Connection: Downloads May Decrease Your Speed
There’s another issue that might be a problem if you are on a metered connection. Windows 10 uses a torrent-like system to distribute updates, where users seed for each other. This is turned on by default, and if you have a bandwidth cap, you could eat up a lot of capacity without even realizing it because MS issued a download and is using some of your connection to share it with others.
Windows 10 has a lot going for it, but you really need to be aware of these issues before you make the switch. Think about whether you want to hold off or disable them. They might be deal breakers, but in any case you want to be informed beforehand.
Featured photo credit: Windows 10 Pro Technical Preview/okubax via flic.kr