5 important things to know before you make a last minute Windows 10 upgrade

Make sure if you upgrade to Windows 10 you remember these important factors, which could make all of the difference.

windows 10 anniversary edition connect
Credit: Mark Hachman

My most popular article of the last year -- and really one of my most popular ever -- is in dire need of an update. And, your computer might also need some new attention, especially if you’ve been living with an older version of Windows (I can feel your pain; I have a laptop in the same state and hate those annoying messages).

Fortunately, I’ve learned a bit more about Windows 10 since writing a guide about things to make sure you know about before upgrading. It’s a bit like diving off a cliff, and it’s a good idea to look pretty closely at the rocks, the distance, and the wind conditions first.

1. You won’t get all of the security benefits

One of the key realizations I’ve had recently with Windows 10 is that there are some features, new technologies, and even third-party software that definitely won’t provide any value to you on an older system. A good example of this is Microsoft Hello. Hello? It requires an infrared camera like the one on this new Dell Inspiron laptop to do face-detection. If your laptop doesn't even have a webcam, you won’t be using that biometric feature anytime soon.

2. Your hardware won’t change (natch)

Another reason to skip the upgrade: You won’t benefit from any of the AR and VR hardware out there, which runs smoothly in Windows 10 thanks to advancements with graphics processing, and you can't connect any USB-C gear if you have a normal USB port. But to tap into those advancements, you need the processing speed and the GPU. I’ve tested the HTC Vive extensively on a souped-up Windows 10 desktop. If you upgrade and expect to have a VR goggle running anytime soon, it won’t happen. Upgrading the OS does not mean you will be able to take advantage of other advancement in hardware and software.

3. Your computer will feel faster

I can tell you from experience that Windows 10 livens up older systems, as long as you have the RAM and disk space required. I have two laptops that benefited greatly from the upgrade. They run faster, smoother, and without as many crashes as they did before. There is a risk involved, of course, and you should examine the specs closely, but you will see improvements.

4. It’s always better to be safe

Someone asked me the other day about my overarching rule about upgrading a computer, and I have a strong opinion about it. Laptops and desktops are ultra-cheap in price these days, some as low as a few hundred dollars. My view is that it is always better to leave a system with an older OS if you have any concerns, because you can always purchase a new system that runs the latest OS. Always.

5. Think long and hard about legacy apps

I mentioned this before, but it is worth covering again. Windows 10 might not work with a legacy app, that's a simple fact. You just don't know if that accounting software from 2004 will work, but you do know it works with Windows 7. OK. Why not borrow a Windows 10 laptop and load it up? Or check with Microsoft on compatibility? Or do anything but click...that...button. Your legacy app will thank you.

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