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IT Connect

Information technology tools and resources at the UW

Should I upgrade my computer to Windows 10?

The MWS recommends the use of a modern operating system on your device.  Recent versions of Windows have important improved security, performance, and usability options that older versions do not.  Your older operating system may get security updates, but does not improve with age.  Only newer versions get all the benefits of improved management, reliability, and security technology. You can review the support capabilities the MWS provides to each operating system on our Operating and Browser Support page.

Operating System Release Year
Windows Vista 2006
Windows 7 2009
Windows 8 2012
Windows 8.1 2013
Windows 10 2015, 2016

What does an upgrade do for me?

Microsoft has a series of short videos that explain new features and how to use them.  Get Started with Windows 10.

Features for everyone

Start Menu  The Windows 10 Start Menu is a nod to the familiar Windows 7 Start Menu.  Click the Start button, or hit the Windows key or Ctrl+Esc on your keyboard.   At the top is a list of your most used programs, at the bottom are options for file explorer, settings, power, and more programs, and on the right is a set of shortcuts that you can move around, add to, or altogether remove.  For those who prefer the Windows 8 start screen, a full screen option is available.

startmenu10

Search  To the right of the Start Button, you can type a command or a program name to start it from here.  Type a search term, such as the title of a document you are looking for, and the file will appear.  Type search terms to see a list of expanded search terms, and click one to open in your browser’s search engine.

search10

 

Browsing  All your old browsers will continue to work in Windows 10.  Also included is Edge, a new browser that is faster and more secure than Internet Explorer, which is also still included.

Performance  On newer hardware, Windows 10 will boot, load applications, and respond to your inputs faster than Windows 7.  On older hardware, Windows 10 will perform about the same as Windows 7.

Better Security and less intrusive updating  Windows 10 includes a number of methods under the hood to protect you better from malware, malicious actors, and accidents.  Updates will take less time to install and may require fewer reboots.

Notifications  The Windows 10 Action Center collects all your notifications in one place, eliminating pop-up messages and behaving more like notifications on a smartphone.

Digital assistant   You can use Cortana, the personal assistant built into Windows, to perform searches, makes changes to your calendar, get weather updates, set reminders, and more.

Windows Ink  Improved pen support for tablets.

Windows Hello  Configure a PIN, fingerprint swipe, or companion device for faster logon.

Windows Defender  Improved background scanning allows for better malware detection without interfering with your other antivirus products, or slowing your device down while you are working.  Also added it is the ability to perform and offline scan to improve rootkit detection.

Future improvements  After future updates, Nebula will enable features on Windows 10 that will make accessing online services like OneDrive and the Windows Store both fast and easy.

Features for Power Users

Workspace management  Task view, snap, multiple monitor support, display scaling, and DirectX have all been improved for Windows 10.  A virtual desktop feature has been added and is linked on the taskbar by default.

Command prompt  The new command prompt behaves a bit more like a text editor, supporting Ctrl shortcuts, line wrapping, and inserts, along with more options for customization.

PowerShell 5.0  This revision of PowerShell supports a host of new features and commandlets, including OneGet for application installation and updating from repositories, more options for Desired State Configuration, and new ISE features.

Other Considerations

How long will it take?  The time to complete an upgrade varies; generally, the newer your hardware, the faster the upgrade will proceed.  It would be best to start the upgrade at the end of the day so that when you return, your machine will be finished.

What are the risks?  While no software operation is free of risk, this upgrade is considered reliable.  The Windows 10 upgrade is capable of restoring your computer to the previous state if something goes wrong in the process.

Back up your data  It is always a good idea to back up your data to another location before your start an upgrade.  There is no risk to files on the Nebula file shares H: and I: or the Central File Storage share U:.  To back up other files from your machine, move those files to a network file share or to a cloud service like UW OneDrive for Business or UW Google Apps.  If you prefer, you could use an external hard disk and follow the process here for Windows 7 or here for Windows 8.1.

Are there other changes I should be aware of?  If you save to your MyDocuments folder, you will need to save specifically to your H:, I:, OneDrive for Business, or Google Docs instead.  In Windows 7, Nebula redirected your MyDocuments folder to your H: drive automatically; in Windows 10, we don’t provide this function because it isn’t reliable.  If you continue to save to your MyDocuments folder, you are saving to the local hard drive, which isn’t backed up.

What if I have a problem?  This upgrade is a Nebula-supported operation, and in most cases you will not incur support charges if you need help. You can email help@uw.edu if you run into any challenges.