Windows 10

Microsoft really screwed the pooch with Windows 10.

Over the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to both install 10 and use it on quite a lot of machines.  It’s better than Windows 8, but that’s a lot like saying two broken legs are better than cancer:  You really wish there was another option.

So, look, lest you all think I’m just a hater, I have intentionally upgraded my devices to Windows 10, and stuck with it for long enough to get a real feel for it.  I want to be using the new operating system.  It’s just simply not ready for prime time.

On my desktop computer, the first upgrade (in February) went badly.  Really really badly.  It started out fine, but when it finished, I was left with a machine that on first boot went right straight to a Blue Screen of Death, and things went downhill from there.  Second boot got me to a screen where it rebooted again and installed more stuff, and the third eventually got me to a desktop, with all of my stuff missing and the Start Menu corrupted.  Badly corrupted, like an old TV on an antenna pointing at a distant channel that’s mostly static.

The one good thing I can say for Windows 10 is that every time I’ve had to “downgrade” from it, the downgrade process was flawless.

My laptop came with Windows 8.1 when I bought it a year ago, and I upgraded it to Windows 10 a few months after 10 came out.  It’s at least usable, but it’s ungodly slow; background processes like Superfetch and Windows Search and Windows Update and the Windows Store (!?) are always running and eating up CPU and disk I/O, and grinding the poor machine to a crawl.  I can’t believe a computer with four CPUs, eight gigs of RAM, and a fast, mostly-empty hard disk runs as slowly as it does, and the problems can always be blamed on the OS itself; once the Windows processes settle down after leaving it alone for a few hours, it runs as nicely as the machine I paid for.  But that’s a long waiting game.

I’ve had a number of times where I’ve opened my laptop in a meeting, and it was basically unusable for the duration of the meeting because Windows 10 was doing all its “background” processes, like forced reboots for “critical” updates like a promo copy of Angry Birds I didn’t ask for and definitely don’t want.

The second time I attempted to update my desktop (in May), I did a fresh install onto a brand-new SSD.  I removed all the other drives from the machine.  I even bought a brand-new video card for it too.  The fresh install went passably well, but even there it blue-screened and hung pretty often for that following week.  I tried really really hard to use it, but it was so unstable that I eventually relented and installed Windows 7.  During that week that I had 10, its record for not crashing and forcing a reboot was 13 hours total, and that’s only because I literally didn’t touch the machine for 13 hours straight.  The moment I next bumped the mouse — kaboom.

And Google searches say I’m not alone with having severe Windows 10 issues.  The Start Menu doesn’t open.  Or it’s corrupted.  Or Windows just freezes randomly.  Or the Windows Store is using 100% CPU and disk.  Or it’s Superfetch.  Or Microsoft pushed out an update that crashes PCs.

This is a really poor showing, Microsoft.

So let me give you guys a tip, Microsoft.  The reason Apple stole all the mind share from you is not because the iPad is the best piece of hardware, or the fastest.  The iPhone didn’t win on features, and still doesn’t.  It doesn’t have the fastest CPU, or the most memory, or the most flexible OS.  Siri is way behind Cortana.  But none of that matters, and you guys still seem to think it does.

Apple’s winning because they recognize that computers have become appliances.  Computers need to just work.  Like your toaster.  Like your refrigerator.  When you put a waffle into your toaster, it doesn’t ask you to wait to install updates; it just cooks the food.  And when you pick up an iPhone and you tap on it, it does what you expect.  There aren’t drivers to install.  There aren’t updates to apply.  It doesn’t go out to lunch for five minutes just because you plugged in headphones.  It’s always there, always ready, and that’s it.  Facebook just opens.  Twitter notices just pop up.  All of the garbage of maintaining a hardware and software ecosystem is completely hidden from the end user.

As long as Windows is anything other than always ready, it will lose users, and keep losing users.  Nobody wants the Windows Store.  Nobody wants the Metro Modern UI apps.  Nobody asked for tiles on the Start Menu.  The only thing people want from their PCs, the thing that you almost got right in Windows 7, is always-on, always-working, always-ready.  You don’t get to foist a Store on us until you convince us it’s a safe enough neighborhood to even dare walking into it.

The old rule of “even-numbered Windows versions suck” hasn’t changed.  It was nice of you to properly skip from Windows 8 to Windows 10 so that rule could continue to hold.

So until you guys get that into your head and actually put your focus where it belongs — on making a Windows 11 that finishes atoning for the awfulness of Windows 8 by focusing purely on reliability and usability — I’m sticking with Windows 7.  It’s a shame how little you remember about why people bought that OS in droves, and how little you understand about why people still stick with it.