Opinion

A tale of two notebooks and Windows 10

After dealing with my Surface Pro and a desktop, I finally got a chance to dive into the real meat of my Windows 10 upgrade cycle which was the two notebooks that have been the key machines in the household for the last few years.

Both can’t be any more different from each other. The first was a mid spec Compaq notebook that originally came with Vista but was later upgraded to Windows 7 via redemption. Its main uses were for browsing, MS Office and iTunes. The second was a high spec ASUS gaming notebook with the works, used for games, MS Office, iTunes and development via Visual Studio and SQL Server.

The ASUS G73 - still a mean mother of a notebook.

The ASUS G73 – still a mean mother of a notebook.

The approaches towards upgrading were also different with the Compaq having a clean install whereas the ASUS would be taking the path of preserving user apps and settings. If you can accept having to reinstall apps and reconfigure you’re PC from scratch, a clean install is a great option that will get you using the new OS quickly. As you’d expect though, the second path has a few more hurdles to overcome.

The first is the amount of additional updates needed prior to the upgrade – it seems that the more apps you’re trying to keep, the longer it’ll take for the installer to get what it needs even before you start. Anyone who’s tried the process themselves will have noticed that you’ll need to restart your PC a couple of times before you’ll even be allowed to begin. I think on the ASUS there was at least three of those.

Then there is dealing with the bloat of apps. Even though I wanted to keep a lot, I also wanted the upgrade to be as lean as possible so I removed a large number of apps I had accumulated over the years. Some of them were even part of ASUS’ initial load when I first bought the notebook and had never even been run once. Any disk space I could free now would be to my benefit later when dealing with the new Windows Store so if I never used it, it was gone.

I also noticed that a small percentage of apps were so old they didn’t uninstall cleanly so a little bit of Registry hacking was required to make those disappear. If you aren’t familiar with the process I’d suggest you consider staying away from this part but after having to deal with since Windows 95 I was willing to dive in.

After the app pruning I was able to finally kick off the upgrade and though the time taken to complete stretched out to two hours this time it was once again quite painless. The big change for me this time around was going into my user settings and changing it to be tied to my Microsoft account, thus allowing app settings and details to be shared across all machines and devices I log into.

I’m impressed with how seamless Microsoft have made this; once the changes are made, settings begin to trickle through and your apps will start to reflect a common environment. It certainly encourages you to install useful apps on all your machines so that you always have your information handy.

One additional task that came up for me was to upgrade the NVIDIA graphics driver for the ASUS. It had to be handled via the Geforce Experience tool that comes installed with most NVIDIA driver updates but it was a straightforward experience, much like any of their other driver updates.

Now completed, the end result is both notebooks are given some additional years of life thanks to the new OS. One is a refreshed notebook that is entirely suitable for reselling. The other is a workhorse that will continue to deliver for both work and play.

Windows 10: mission accomplished!

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