Windows 10: You might be wise to wait before upgrading

Microsoft Windows 10

Windows 10 was released this week, to much fanfare.

Some people love it, and say that it’s a great upgrade to the operating system. Microsoft itself is trumpeting that more than 14 million computer users were running Windows 10 within 24 hours of its release.

But I think it might be wise for many computer users to wait before upgrading.

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Remember, until July 29 2016, Windows 10 is a free upgrade if you currently use Windows 7 or Windows 8. After that date you will need to pay the regular retail price if you want to switch. So you don’t have to upgrade right now.

Your Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers are still receiving security updates, and if those versions of Windows are working well for you there’s no *need* to upgrade just yet.

Sure, many people are saying that Windows 10 is a slicker version of the operating system than some of the releases that Microsoft has issued in recent years – but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

Instead, let millions of other Microsoft Windows users upgrade before you.

See how they fare, and give Microsoft time to iron out any wrinkles like the autoupdating Nvidia graphic drivers that were breaking Windows 10 installations earlier this week. That issue was reportedly fixed just before the official release of Windows 10, but no-one can be sure right now just how many other serious bugs might be lurking.

Then, when you’re ready, if you have more than one computer, try upgrading to Windows 10 on one of them – and trying it out for a while, before installing in all of your PCs.

Having a little patience, and waiting a few weeks before upgrading your PC to Windows 10, might be a wise choice.

Windows XPOne more thing – and this is my message to those of you lurking in the corner trying to hide the fact that you’re still using Windows XP.

If you are still running Windows XP at home (or inside your organisation) then there’s no free upgrade to Windows 10 available to you. It’s quite possible that your computer hardware isn’t even capable of running Windows 10.

If that’s the case then don’t shrug your shoulders and ignore the hullabaloo about Windows 10. See the release of Microsoft’s new operating system as a good time to reconsider your decision to stick with Windows XP. Because Windows XP is dead as a dodo, and has not received any security patches for a long long time.

If you care about your computer security and privacy, it may make sense to dump XP and either switch to an alternative OS or get a new computer which can run Windows 10.

Graham Cluley is an award-winning keynote speaker who has given presentations around the world about cybersecurity, hackers, and online privacy. A veteran of the computer security industry since the early 1990s, he wrote the first ever version of Dr Solomon's Anti-Virus Toolkit for Windows, makes regular media appearances, and is the co-host of the popular "Smashing Security" podcast. Follow him on Twitter, Mastodon, Threads, Bluesky, or drop him an email.

12 comments on “Windows 10: You might be wise to wait before upgrading”

  1. Paul Eldred

    Also worth mentioning that for business users it will be wise to wait until your software providers have certified that their software will run under Winddows 10.

  2. Mark Jacobs

    As regards the forced updating of the OS "behind your back", don't some updates require a reboot in order to rewrite certain files that are constantly in use by the OS? In those cases, how does it decide when to reboot your PC? I hope it doesn't give you a countdown timer, which you have to manually cancel in order to stop the reboot, because, if it does, then overnight or multi-day unattended running of processes could become fraught with difficulties on the home editions! You'd come back into the office the next day, and find that your overnight didn't run because the PC rebooted itself at 3am!

    1. Bob · in reply to Mark Jacobs

      Windows 10 Home gives you two options under 'Choose how updates are installed': 'Automatic (recommended)' and 'Notify to schedule restart'. You also have the ability to select the option 'Give me updates for other Microsoft products when I update Windows' – e.g. Microsoft Office etc.

      Pro and Enterprise users have the ability to disable automatic updates entirely.

      All in all I think it's great that Microsoft is enabling this functionality by default for home users because we know that people DON'T update anywhere nearly as regularly as they should. This will vastly improve security and is what Apple have done for some time now.

      If an update doesn't work as expected then system rollback will kick in automatically and restore the OS to its (previous) working state. It's a transparent process for the user and apart from the odd restart (which they'll be prompted about) it shouldn't cause any difficulties.

  3. Coyote

    "One more thing – and this is my message to those of you lurking in the corner trying to hide the fact that you're still using Windows XP."

    And just so those people also know. You're not hiding it to servers that want to know this (actually clients too). Passive fingerprinting comes to mind. Of course, that probably is irrelevant to these people, but FWIW, you're not fooling anyone.

    No comment on automated updates other than it is risky business; updates do fail from time to time, regardless of OS (or even software). DNS servers, for example – when they fail, serious problems can arise. And yes, updates can cause it to fail to (re)start. That is only one of the problems with automatic updates (or actually manually, but when automatic there might not be anyone monitoring it).

  4. Jim

    One thing that puzzles me about windows 10 is why are they letting it go for free?

    Considering how much they normally charge for an operating system this baffles me.

    Am updating on one computer in case my reservations are wrong although I'll probably wait awhile before actually installing.

    1. Coyote · in reply to Jim

      Maybe it is cynicism (quite possible) and maybe it is I am biased against proprietary software as well as Microsoft (in general), but I would suggest they are baiting them and betting on the result. What that will involve I can't say (or maybe my guess is completely wrong), but I seem to remember reading something about this will be the last release they have, and instead it'll be updates of the OS in some way or another (I'm not sure how that will work or what part of it is correct – it doesn't really concern me). Maybe updates will be paid for (whether system component updates only or otherwise)? Or they bring in revenue by what the OS offers? I'm not sure I want to know but we'll probably all know eventually.

      I didn't read this article properly, but it seems that it is the final release:

  5. Free NS-5 upgrade

    Free, as in You Don't Own It. Free as in advertisements pushed to your PC. Free as in no warrant required to search your PC. Free as in you can be shut down any time.

  6. Phil J

    I'm not hiding the fact that I'm using XP. I can't afford to upgrade. I'm still outraged that Microsoft refuses to supply me with fixes to their flawed software, which I know they are creating because they still support embedded XP.
    Their business model seems to be the same as CryptoLocker i.e. send us money or we'll trash your data.

    1. M. Possamai · in reply to Phil J

      You don't expect them to still support windows 95, do you? XP is no different.. It's dead.. Move on, like the rest of the world.

    2. Sailor Moon · in reply to Phil J

      They're supporting embedded XP because it's a different prospect altogether from the desktop in both usage scenario and support mandate, with all kinds of legal and contract complexity not visible to the average consumer.

      As an OEM supplied (even retailed boxed) home user they don't owe you a thing beyond the well-published support lifecycles (which you agree with by using the software) and so, and I do mean it politely, any expectation upon MS at this point is misplaced.

      I don't know your situation, and so I don't want to be presumptuous. Depending on your needs, you'd be far safer right now by moving to a Linux distribution – then you can continue to use your hardware until such time it fails. At that point your hand will be forced somewhat. However, you may well then prefer to stick with Linux on lower power (or used) hardware, which will continue to offer you efficiencies both financial and security based.

      I don't know your hardware, but do look at Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Mint, Lubuntu et al. I've done this for lots of people and it's really been a turn-key 'get out of XP jail' card.

      Suggesting that MS will destroy your data is silly and disingenuous – data is your responsibility, not theirs. You must keep up-to-date in order to have the reasonable expectation of security. You don't take fence panels back to the hardware store when they've rotted, because you failed to keep them painted.

      There's no demand for money on you at all – you’ve become dependent on outdated software. XP is now three product family generations ago, and they have decided to retire a group of (now) anachronistic technologies for which support was already extended hugely. It isn't coming back, so I would suggest strongly you look at (free) alternative.

  7. S. Abbe

    There is a big problem with Windows Hello.

    If you turn on any of the biometrics while keeping the login password on, the security would become weaker than a password-only login. MS does not provide an explicit caution about this.

  8. Sailor Moon

    My fear is the group of people *not* skulking in corners, but proudly wearing their XP badge still with a bizarre, fingers-in-ears sort of ignorance.

    Not only that, but a percentage are *advocating* keeping it or even advising re-installs in front of suggestible / inexperienced people, which is a terrible example of the ill-informed leading the ill-informed. I sympathise that change can be tough when you've really, really gotten used to something – but after a point it becomes the tail wagging the dog. And one that is going to bite you.

    People should not be listening to anyone extolling their own 'knowledge' by telling you to keep XP. This is like a fake GP slipping you a packet of Benson and Hedges and telling you to keep puffing away, because everything will be alright. It won't.

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