Just a little note which maybe of interest for users of old hardware, in particular Toshiba Satellite L300 laptop. Earlier I wrote about adding SSD drive into it _, and my results were that with Windows Vista SSD doesn’t help that much: it is better with SSD but still extremely sluggish due to the fact that Vista does not support SSD properly. I also linked underwhelming performance to the fact that I put x64 Vista on 2 GB system (and there is commonly accepted opinion/rule of thumb of not installing x64 Windows on anything with less than 3 GB of RAM). Back then I was not able to install Windows 10 TP on this laptop (likely because of some missing driver).
Recently I finally revisited this laptop and successfully installed Windows 8.1 which was immediately upgraded to Windows 10. So this laptop runs Windows 10 x64 with 2 GB RAM and with SSD and this configuration significantly faster and more responsive. Really good example that to unlock your hardware potential you need support from software, and also illustrates quite well superiority and quality of work MSFT done in Windows 8.1 and 10 – it really works better than old versions even on the same hardware.
Slight issue was Canon Pixma 630 printer which was in use with this laptop. Pixma 630 officially not support Windows 10, so drivers available only for Windows 8.1 – but they are work just fine for Windows 10 – I was able to verify this.
Also in case you on the fence about x86 VS x64 problem your extra incentive for selecting x64 may be greater security and quality of drivers. Essentially x64 Windows 8/10 is more secure because it has: mandatory driver signing (x86 missing this), Address Space Layout Randomization aka ASLR (x86 has it but on x64 it is much more efficient due to larger address space), Kernel Patch Protection or KPP aka PatchGuard (prevents software, even drivers running in kernel-mode, from patching the Windows kernel for x86 this is technically possibly but never was implemented to preserve backward-compatibility with old software), Data Execution Protection (more strict and always enabled for x64 programs), WOW64 compatibility layer (enforces some restrictions on these 32-bit programs which runs on top of it) and guess what else? Dropped support for 16-bit applications 🙂
My conclusion is that nowadays I only would care to install x86 OS on hardware which has historical value as vintage piece for collectors or geeks and can’t support x64 OS, other than that I will either put x64 OS or would recommend upgrade hardware.
Unlike its predecessor with Windows 10 technology preview I was able to get all the way through succession of preview builds to (almost) RTM build released recently:
If you had any experience with early builds and previews of Windows before Windows 10 you will agree that Microsoft doing major strides in the way they deliver updates – now it is the same seamless and easy experience with build update as one you may have seen with iOS. Prior to 10 it was wipe and load for each early build and now builds just channeled through Windows Update – that is nice and I guess hugely increases number of early adopters and tester as it keeps user side efforts to try all these early builds at minimum. You may also notice that MSFT built some peer-to-peer optimizations for update downloads so that you can pull them not only from their servers but from other PCs on your LAN and on the Internet:
Once this build installed indication that you are running technical preview is gone from your desktop and some sources claim that this build is RTM version. But as you can see in official sources “this build is one step closer to what customers will start to receive on 7/29” – so not exactly final one. Another confirmation to that is that with this build you still have an option to continue receiving Insider Builds:
Apart from missing Technical Preview banner another indication of the fact is that RTM is almost here is availability of language packs (finally!):
Russian language pack weigh about 40 megabytes and it can be downloaded and installed now:
Also you can see that Edge is here as default browser (see this “Open with Internet Explorer” option hidden in “ellipsis menu”? 🙂 ):
You can also notice that icon for Edge is slightly different:
So far I like everything MSFT does with their client OS and as a product it seems to be mature and well engineered. In my opinion they really maintain quality bar in engineering and approach to rolling out new major releases set earlier with Windows 7 and 8 and well documented in Steven Sinofsky Building Windows blog posts (that was at the time when Steven was still with MSFT). As I followed Windows 7, 8 and now following Windows 10 early releases I really find MSFT doing very good job working with users’ community and IT Pro audiences from the early stages of development cycle till the RTM and official launch of their major OSs versions. See Engineering Windows 7 blog, Building Windows 8 blog and Windows Insider Program site. Though Steven’s blog posts is something you can feel miss of, overall quality of builds and communications around those is very good. You may discard these achievements and say that there is no other way to market and sell complex software products nowadays and this is not remarkable, just normal, but saying something and bringing this to reality are very different things. For such widely adopted OS some backlash and disgruntled users are guaranteed, but I am looking forward to the RTM, anyway.
As you maybe already know Windows 10 Technology Preview already available for Windows Insider program participants. What’s cool about Windows 10 is that after RTM Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users will be able to switch to Windows 10 for free during the firs year. There is also free online course on Windows 10 available on MVA.
What’s interesting is that once you logged in to Windows Insider Program you have an option both to perform direct/in-place upgrade of your Window 8.1 to Windows 10 TP using Windows Update delivery vehicle (default option) and also ISO download for testing on VM/separate machine.
So I decided to give it a shot and perform in-place upgrade of my Windows 8.1 Pro on my home desktop to Windows 10 TP 9926:
In-place upgrade of my desktop computer went without any glitches, apart from the fact than in the very end it redefined my LAN connection as Public and I consequently lost my inbound RDP connectivity to machine (I started this process being connected over RDP). So a quick fix for this was to enable Inbound RDP for Public network profile as a temporary solution, just because off the top of my head I wasn’t able remember how to redefine profile assigned to the network connection.
So far I see good UI improvements and some interesting stuff related to VPN connectivity. Also start menu is back but charms seems to be removed, which could be a sad thing if you at least slightly get used to them.
Here is non-Microsoft video which briefly explains what’s new in Windows 10 TP:
To name some things mentioned there: start menu is back with optional live tiles whereas full-screen modern UI is kept but as an optional thing; Aero snap feature introduced in Windows 7 which allows users to see 2 things side by side is improved and allows tile things in quadrants now; new task view which clearly shows what you are currently working on side by side similar to Apple OS 10 Mission Control feature, also allowing you to open multiple desktops switching between a number of different workspaces quickly; Cortana Microsoft’s answer to Siri (at least initially) evolved into something bigger than this; “entirely separate browser in addition to IE” 🙂 (code-named Spartan); native support for FLAC lossless audio; HEVC video codec with 8K video (aka Ultra HD TV) support and DirectX 12.