Ask LH: Should I Upgrade To Windows 10?

Dear Lifehacker, I'm trying to toss up whether it's worth upgrading my laptop from windows 8.1 to Windows 10. I've heard mixed reviews and don't want to make the wrong decision! Should I take the plunge? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated. Thanks, Andy

Image: iStock

Dear Andy,

The decision on whether or not to upgrade to Windows 10 will depend on a range of factors, including the age of your machine, the type of software you regularly use and how attached you are to the Windows 8.1 interface.

Windows 10 should run fine on any store-bought Windows 8.1 laptop. However, it's still worth checking whether your specs are up to snuff: click here to see Microsoft's minimum recommended hardware requirements. (Also make sure you have 16 GB of free hard disk space.)

Similarly, the majority of software that is compatible with Windows 8 should work fine on Windows 10. The OS is very similar to its predecessor so you shouldn't experience any of the headaches sometimes associated with Windows upgrades. The exception to this rule is pre-Windows 7 applications that require old drivers: think Windows XP-specific software and games with outdated DRM requirements.

Other than the above caveats, it basically comes down to personal preference. (You can read cases for and against Windows 10 here.) We think the upgrade is definitely worthwhile -- it irons out many of the quirks in Windows 8 and comes with the digital assistant Cortana. This guide breaks down some of the best new features that are worth checking out.

If you do decide to give Windows 10 a shot, be sure to do it before July 30 to take advantage of the free upgrade -- otherwise, you'll need to pay the full retail price. It's also worth noting that you have a 30-day window to roll back to Windows 8.1 if you decide Windows 10 isn't for you. Click here for details.

We're keen to hear what readers think on this. Has anyone held off from upgrading to Windows 10? Did anybody regret upgrading and go backward? Let us know in the comments.

Cheers Lifehacker

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    You also have the option to roll back the installation but end day is fast approaching.

    Software compatibility from 8.1 to 10 should be very very minimal especially since W10 has been out for some time now, most software peeps have had more than enough time to adapt any changes (or release new software).
    Iv been on W10 since the early insider days so iv experience a whole plethora of issues but compared to the current build 90% have been resolved.
    The only issue I currently have is my Asus motherboard doesnt have compatible bluetooth drivers.
    My biggest regret with W10 was enabling Cortana, we're constantly getting into arguments :P

    At the end of the day the choice is yours, but at least we can help you make an educated choice.

    I upgraded to W10 when Windows 8.1 started to fail again. facing a reinstall, i decided it was time to upgrade. i haven't had any major issues with w10, other than being stuck with Microsoft Bloatware® apps that Microsoft think i need so they can't be uninstalled, like @cesario mentioned, Cortana can't be gotten rid of...for...reasons...

    I have upgraded 2 laptops and 2 desktops without problem. The only reason I held back on the most recent upgrade was that I had a W8.1 desktop running WIndows Media Center for TV recordings. WIndows 10 does not support WMC. I bought a dedicated PVR. Onwards and upwards and don't look back.

    This is what i tell clients when they ask me this question:
    Windows 10 is a better 8.1 so if you're already on 8.x then it's a no brainer.
    If you are a 7 (previously XP) fanboy then 10 is great for you too, you probably just won't like to admit it. The boot time alone (with an SSD) is worth the upgrade.

    W10 will run on machines that didn't support W8.X, which is great, because that means Microsoft saved you the horror of W8, and you can go straight to 10.

    If you are older than 60, you may want to stick with whatever you have. Old people generally don't like change, and changing your operating system is still a change, unless you fit into the above category.

    If you're on XP, you probably fit into the category that doesn't like change. W7 was great and W10 is great too, but you like XP. Stick with XP. Why change now?

    If you're on Vista, shoot yourself. You don't deserve to own a PC. Or upgrade to W8 - you'll probably like it.

    Yes, you should. Windows 8 was a horror. Do yourself a favour and upgrade.

    If you were on Windows 7, there'd be some argument to not upgrade (That said - I'd still recommend getting with the times and just upgrading if your hardware supports it) but there's absolutely no argument to stay with Windows 8/8.1.

    Is it possible to take an image of the hard disk pre-upgrade, upgrade to Win 10 and take another image, then use those images to retain the options of using the original OS or Win 10 beyond the normal one month roll back time limit?

    To summarise some points I appreciated from others and add a little bit more,

    - check compatibility especially for older hardware
    - consider end of life for your current operating system vs how long you want to keep the computer
    - media centre is gone. If you use it, don't upgrade
    - Windows 10 has more privacy concerns. Ask a friend how to turn all the settings off that cause your privacy to be compromised
    Ultimately, it's your choice. I love the simplicity of the UI. Some features aren't integrated properly and you need to find the old equivalents (eg. Some admin features need to be run by knowing the name of the command).

    Upgrade or do not upgrade?
    Most of us will have no choice! Microsoft black mail is own customer!

    I've been upgrading a number of PC lately from 7 to 10. The biggest hurdle I've come across are graphic drivers, especially for older machines. Anything older than 5 years is hit and miss for drivers and unlikely to have a driver released by the manufacturer to support it.

    Whilst cards unsupported will default to the basic Windows driver, best to check ahead if a driver for 10 has been released before making the switch, especially if gaming.

    No if you care about privacy and need reliable.
    Yes if you don't mind ms to your pc like apple to iphone.

    For me win10 is: spying me on everything even the website i open. Turn off all spy options following the youtube guide then something in "scheduled task" still send data every 2 or 3 hours. Turn off everything in tasks list then win10 failed.

    Multiple friends experienced high ping and sudden mouse freeze in online game matchs coz win10 download patch and apply secretly without asking, and you can not pause it(saying let me finish this game first) until it finish!! A friend got totally screwed when he was doing 3dvideo rendering(already spent hundreds of hours) and his win10 restart itself at 3am for a pointless update(he says he turn off the auto update the 1st day he got the win10 pc. Appearently ms turn it back on at some point via a patch or something) it just can not get more stupid.

    I am a electrical controls designer/programmer at a custom machine builder. Our boss told our department to upgrade to Windows 10 about two months ago. I am always the rebel holdout, so I haven't yet. All the other guys are having serious issues with Rockwell (Allen Bradley) programming software. They can't "Save As" a program they are developing, and there are many other quirks. I realize it is rather custom software, but they haven't released a Win10 compatible version yet. Just a head's up.

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