Windows 10 free upgrade deadline looms, so should I upgrade soon?

Posted by Sweet Art® on May 16th 2016


If you read our earlier blog posting, you know that we have suggested that it would be wise to hold off upgrading to Windows 10 until more is known about its compatibility with existing hardware (printers, scanners, etc.) and other software applications. But, Microsoft has said the free Windows 10 upgrade offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8 versions will only be available until July 29, 2016, so you will need to make a decision prior to that. Taking into consideration the load on Microsoft's update system as that date approaches, it would make sense to begin the process several weeks prior to the deadline, so let's revisit the issue.

Is Windows 10 working well?
Indications are that upgrading to W10 from either W7 or W8 has been much less stressful than prior upgrades (the Windows XP to Vista upgrade was awful!). The printers and scanners that most of our customers are using have had few problems working with W10, although there has been a case or two that just didn't go well and required them to rollback to their prior operating system. This may have been due to existing computer hardware problems, but to be safe it should be assumed that the upgrade may create problems, so do not attempt it during "crunch time" and make sure you have a "Plan B" to fall back on in the event the upgrade fails to function properly. Along these lines, please review our prior blog post, Avoiding Windows Update disasters, particular the information about creating a Restore Point prior to downloading updates. Although the Windows 10 Upgrade has a built-in facility to rollback to your prior system should problems occur, it makes sense to set a Restore Point on your own prior to the upgrade under the "belt and suspenders" theory.

As for our Sweet Art® Decorating Software, to be compatible with Windows 10 you must have v5.0 (most everyone does) and it would be a good idea to have a recent release. Currently, the newest release of SA v5.0 is r2015.04.15 which should be listed on your installation CD's label right after SAv5.0. If you have an older version, it will probably work fine, but we don't recommend getting too far behind on your software version. For current owners of SAv5.0, the r2015.04.15 release of the CD may be ordered from our website at SAv5.0 Replacement CD.

Something to be aware of...
Speaking of Restore Points and updates, it is important to point out one big change with Windows 10: Unless you have the Pro version (or have upgraded to W10 from a W7 or W8 Pro version), you will have virtually no control over periodic Microsoft Updates. That's right, if your computer is on the internet and you don't have W10 Pro, the W10 Updates will just happen whether you like it or not. This pretty much takes away your ability to set a Restore Point prior to updating. And as we discussed in the prior post mentioned above, sometimes these updates can create issues, so manually setting a Restore Point is a good idea before changing anything on your computer. Of course, W10 is supposed to create a Restore Point each time it installs updates, but it has always made sense in the past to create your own to be sure one is available. At this point, you just have to trust Microsoft on this one (oh, boy!).

Taking the plunge
Let's assume you have decided to go ahead and upgrade to Windows 10. As with any major change to your computer system, it is imperative to BACKUP YOUR DATA! That's right, play defense and make sure you have a backup copy of the one part of your system that is unique to you.

If your computer is eligible for a free Windows 10 Upgrade, you have no doubt been inundated with nags from Microsoft to pull the trigger. If you have backed up your data and created a Restore Point, just follow Microsoft's directions to start the upgrade. There is plenty of info about this on the internet so we won't go into the details of the actual upgrade, but be aware that it can take some time, maybe hours, so be ready for that possibility.

Test your new system
Assuming the upgrade completed successfully, the next step is to test your new Windows 10 operating system with your important software and hardware to make sure everything is operating properly. If there are problems, it is time to get on the internet and research the problem you are having to see if there is a simple solution. Often, the problem may be overcome by updating hardware drivers or installing W10-compatible software updates. If none of these work out for you and you just cannot function, it may be necessary to roll-back your new Windows 10 installation to the prior operating system. Again, this process is covered on the internet, so we won't go through the process here, but keep in mind that you must do the rollback within 30-days of the initial upgrade process.

A silver lining
Even if you run into compatibility issues with Windows 10 that you feel you can't live with, and you don't have the time to address them, there is one advantage to upgrading and then rolling back to your prior system. By doing so, you have officially accepted the upgrade for that particular computer, so any future Windows 10 upgrade attempts to that system will be free, even after the July 29, 2016 deadline.

Microsoft has made it clear that the future is with Windows 10, so at some point you will be using this operating system on your Windows-based systems. Because you are being offered a free upgrade from Microsoft (when has that ever happened!), there is a strong argument to accept the upgrade before the deadline. There are no guarantees it will be a flawless process, but if you take the steps recommended above to protect yourself, the risk is minimal. Just don't do it on a Friday afternoon before you run your weekend cake orders!

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