Windows 10 Upgrade & Tweaks

May 13, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Posted in Computers, Internet, Software | 13 Comments
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If you’re using Windows 8, the free upgrade to Windows 10 is an obvious choice. Some describe it as what Win8 should have been in the first place. Windows 7 is a bigger jump but unless your hardware isn’t up for it, upgrading while it’s free may be a good idea. I waited for the dust to settle and the bugs to be fixed. But now, the end of the free upgrade period is coming July 29. Experts say it’s unlikely to be extended. If you’re considering it, it’s time to make your move and avoid a last-minute crunch.

If you’ve already upgraded, you may find the Protection section and below worth reviewing.

Usually, I install a fresh version of a new operating system so I’m starting from a clean slate without historical problems. But this requires reinstalling all the software and making all the settings changes from scratch. Because Win10 is a smaller change and my Win8 installs are newer, I opted for the free upgrade.

Preparation
You first want to update Windows fully.

And update your major software to ensure it’s current & compatible with Win10. You may find PSI useful. I had a problem with several things hanging after the upgrade. Turns out I needed to install a new version of my Antivirus tool. I had thought it’s version was current but it turned out not to be.

Next create a full image of your operating system – the update gives you the choice to revert but if something goes wrong, you want to be able to get back to where you started. I had trouble with Windows backup on my tablet. It wouldn’t accept any of the media options that where available. Macrium Reflect (free) allowed me to choose a large thumb drive and get the job done.

For Windows upgrade, you can download the tool to start the upgrade process here. This is preferable to using the “Get Windows 10” tool Microsoft has pushed on many computers.

If you’d like a fresh install, you can get the media creation tool here. It has DVD and thumb-drive options. But you’ll need a prior Win10 activation. To get that, you first have to Upgrade to Win10, then Activate, and then you can wipe the drive and install fresh. When you come to activate that, Microsoft will recognize a valid install on the same system. Fred Langa goes into details here. (paid content)

Installation
The install software first spends time checking your system and downloading the upgrade files. This can be done while you continue to work. When the time comes for the actual upgrade, a lunch break would be optimum.

I upgraded a hybrid tablet and a custom desktop system. Both went smoothly and retained most of my customization and settings.

As the install is completing, it will ask you to log in to your Microsoft account. If you had been using a PIN or similar, be sure to have your original password ready.

Next you get the “Get Going Fast” screen – don’t. Click the tiny Customize link in the lower left and review some of the default settings. If you want some privacy, you’ll want to turn a lot of the initial settings off. Also the default apps if you already have programs you prefer.

After more processing, it will bring you to the desktop. Most of it should look about the same.

If you were using a third-party start menu, it will probably have been turned off. Microsoft told me twice Classic Shell had been “removed” but it wasn’t uninstalled, just tuned off.

Protection
For some reason, System Protection is turned off by default. In Control Panel, System, System Protection, turn on System Protection for your boot drive, set the space at about 2% and create a Restore point. Details. This gives you the ability to roll back if an update causes trouble. Windows Updates are now only automatic so this is important.

Windows key-X will give you a quick menu to access various admin functions, including Control Panel. Or right-click the Start menu icon.

Adjustments
Three areas that need attention are the new variation of the Start menu, Search, and Settings. We’ll look at Settings first.

Continuing in the trend of Win8, Windows 10 has settings in 2 places – Control Panel and the Settings app. The second is accessed by the Gear icon in the Start menu. You’ll want to review each area as some of the default settings are less than desirable.

If you travel a lot and want to share settings across devices, want to use mostly MS products, and want to share everything with Microsoft and the world, you may be happy with the default settings. If not, spend a bit of time reviewing them. This will also give you a better sense of what Win10 offers and what you can control.

System
Most in here are fine. You may want to review Notifications.
Offline Maps may be useful for you if you need map access where Internet service is lacking. But the maps are large files. If they don’t finish downloading before you reboot, you have to start again.

Devices
By default, it has Windows manage your default printer, based on the one you used last. I turned that off. My printer was off during the update and was not on the list. When I turned it on and asked it to search for new printers, it said there was none but added the printer meantime.

Network
It’s notable Windows now tracks your data usage like a cell phone.
If you have wireless, in WiFi, Manage WiFi settings, turn off the automated connection options. You want to manage what hotspots you connect to, not your Contacts, etc. And why would you want where you connect being shared like this?

Personalization
I found that Windows retained my prior settings but the accent colour didn’t look as good.
You may want to tweak the Local Screen settings.
Start is where you adjust the Start menu. If you use default Windows locations for your music and such, you can control which folders are displayed.

Accounts
If you don’t plan to sync settings on multiple devices, turn off Sync. Key to understand here is it’s all synced through your Microsoft account on-line. That’s not exactly privacy.

You will need to keep your MS account but can add and use a Local account so you’re not obliged to sign in to Microsoft (and be connected to the Internet) whenever you’re using your computer. Of course, the later is required for some features.

To create a Local account, go to Family and Other Users: look for ‘I don’t have this persons sign-in’ and add a User without a MS account.

For security, it’s not recommended you do regular computing in an Admin account. One way to avoid loosing your personalizations is to create a new Admin user, then log into it and change the original account to Regular. You’ll need the Admin password to make changes but it prevents malware from running accidentally.

It was also recommended to create a 2nd Admin account as backup, in case the first gets corrupted.

Time and Ease
Worth browsing to see what’s here.

Privacy
This is the big one. Your Advertising ID? There are a series of sections to go over, including which apps can access your personal data. If you don’t use the App, you can turn it off.

Update
Updates are always automatic in Windows 10 Home. In Windows Update, Advanced options, change the setting to Notify. Otherwise it may reboot your computer to update while you’re working.

Some have suggested you can control updates by setting your connection to Metered. But that’s canceled whenever you connect to a new network.

Search
Click Cortana in the Taskbar (by the Start menu), then the Settings icon and turn off online. Otherwise, everything you search for on your computer is also searched on Bing and tracked. Don’t know about you, but I don’t expect to find my work files on the Internet. I also find it more useful to use a browser to search on-line. I can also then use the search engine of my choice. You may want to turn off Cortana reminders at the top too.

You can also change the space it takes – an icon may be fine. For that, right-click the Taskbar, select Search, and then box, icon, or hidden.

Start Menu
As usual, there’s some junk in the Start menu to unpin. I prefer desktop programs over almost any of the apps. Once you clean out the “Get Office” etc, the right side is more manageable. You may also find you can make the tiles smaller. If you’re not on a touchscreen, the big tiles just take up space.

I find the lack of a Programs folder view annoying. The All Apps alphabetical view is much less useful as I group related programs in folders. But I was happy to see you can right click and Uninstall the undesirables.

At first I found some weird things on the list, like program Help links rather than just executables. But that seems to have sorted itself out. However, if you open folders, it shows everything in all the sub-folders together, including files like “legal” & “readme”. It doesn’t show which program they’re associated with. They apparently assumed no one organizes their Start Menu.

You can browse the alpha list and Pin your more commonly used programs, or create a folder with shortcuts for them and make that a new Toolbar (from the Taskbar). Woody shares many other tricks here.

I’ll have to decide how I will organize the Start menu – break programs out of groups? That will make the list vastly longer and require I remember the right name (Office? Microsoft Office?). Or use a third-party Start menu? The free Classic Shell still works for Windows 10 and is great for hierarchical menus. The exploration continues.
David

13 Comments »

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  1. I should note that I’m pretty “old school” with tech. I still use an email client and prefer my computer as a networked workstation rather than a web of things.

    This is partly because the dominant driver of development in the arena is user tracking for targeted advertising plus marketing same to other companies.

    I also like to manage my files my way rather than following the latest fashion of whatever software developer.

    Microsoft is talking about migrating to a subscription model for the OS, much like they do with some versions of Office now. Smaller up front cost but ongoing fees. Credit-based rental is not a healthy trend in my books. I can see where it may be good for businesses but…

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  2. Another thing Win10 adds is virtual desktops. This is quite familiar to Linux and Mac users and now comes built-in to Windows.

    It may not be obvious how to use it though. Click the Task View icon on the left part of the Taskbar. In the lower right, you’ll see a New Desktop icon. Click that and then there will be a row of Desktops pictured to switch between. Win+Ctrl+ Right/Left will also let you switch, or just click on the icon of a program on the taskbar.

    Settings, System, Multitasking has a few settings. What it doesn’t give you is the ability to have unique backgrounds for each desktop – something I find useful.

    The transition from desktop to desktop is a little wooze-inducing across 2 widescreens. I prefer lots of screen real estate but if you have a single or especially small screen, Virtual Desktops can be especially handy.

    This article goes into more details and talks about the snap feature for organizing windows.
    http://www.pcworld.com/article/2952864/windows/how-to-use-windows-10s-task-view-and-virtual-desktops.html

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  3. This from a recent tech column:
    “If your computer is more than several years old, and it has 2GB or less of RAM, don’t upgrade your machine to Win10. Save your time and energy now and buy a new PC with the OS preloaded at some point in the future.”

    I would add my opening comment that if you’re running 8.1, Win10 is an obvious upgrade. But the older your OS is from there, the more likely there will be software and hardware that has to be replaced.

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  4. On using the Metered connection to control updates – it’s worth noting this is only available if you have wireless hardware.

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  5. I found I was taking longer to find programs and went back to using the Classic Shell start menu. Much nicer and the WIn10 menu is available with a shift-click if that’s needed.

    In Updates, you can now set times during which the computer won’t reboot so it won’t do so while you’re working. If you normally turn your computer off at night, you may need to manually update here when it’s a good time.

    August 8, they’re said to roll out the “Anniversary” update

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  6. The tech rags now indicate you can do a clean install with the WIn10 media if you have a properly activated Win8 installation. It will use that to allow it. But do be sure to have a backup in case…

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  7. I would also add checking your drivers prior to the upgrade. Especially if you’re running prior to Win8.1. Apparently, this is the most common area for trouble – especially around video.

    I had a later issue here when an unknown update started clashing with some system utilities for the motherboard. An unused driver didn’t get along with the change, causing the system to crash regularly. I had to remove it manually. (it didn’t uninstall when I had removed the software prior)

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  8. The Win10 Anniversary Update has begun rolling out – newer systems first.

    On some systems, some of the settings are reverting to defaults. I’ve seen reports for:
    security/ privacy settings
    Cortana settings
    System Protection may also turn off again
    It would be good to go through the settings mentioned in the article again.

    A new feature, in Update & Security, Windows Update, click the Change active hours link. This prevents your computer from unexpectedly rebooting for updates during working hours.

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  9. I got a set of cumulative updates today, but to the old 1511 version. There are reports Microsoft has backed off the AU 1607 update to fix some bugs. That’s unconfirmed, but it’s curious they gave me new updates for the old version rather than the new version.

    There is the option of getting the AU update right away (via Settings, Update, Learn More) but I’m happy to wait for it to be more polished.

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  10. Still haven’t seen the AU on my systems yet but the tech rags are saying no rush as they’re still debugging it.

    A friends laptop however did get it. Bizarrely, it decided to send the video to a side port rather than the screen so after the reboots, a blank screen. When I figured out the issue, it was removing the update, apparently because I didn’t verify.

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  11. An article on a simple way to remove useless apps from Win10, If you’re so motivated.
    https://www.thurrott.com/windows/windows-10/64488/windows-10-tip-remove-built-in-apps

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  12. Another setting you may want to look at is Settings, Update, Advanced Options link, Choose how Updates are Delivered link.
    I’d recommend you set that to PC’s on my local network or turn it off. Do you want to be downloading updates from random other computers? That may take the load off MS servers but adds risk for you.

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  13. On the Anniversary Update, My tablet was offered the upgrade and it went in flawlessly.
    2 weeks later, my desktop was offered the upgrade. It failed and was rolled out. But it then reinstalled the update at least once a day, failing each time.

    Things I saw that may help get it in:
    Run sfc /scannow to check for system file issues
    Unplug external USB devices except keyboard and mouse
    Disable AV software (also ensuring it’s fully updated)
    Review unnecessary Startup programs and disable
    Do a clean boot then run the update
    https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/kb/929135

    This article mentions some other suggestions, though some are dubious to me.
    https://windows10.help/blogs/entry/3-how-to-ensure-a-smooth-upgrade-to-windows-10-anniversary-update/

    What worked for me was disabling all non-MS Services, updating, then re-enabling them.
    (run msconfig, select Services tab, click Hide All MS services, Then Disable all. Apply)

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