boR’s Windows 10 Survival Guide
Windows 10 has been released! It’s free for current Windows 7 and 8 users. If you’re up-to-date and online, you should have an icon that is either offering you an upgrade, or telling you that your update is reserved. They’re releasing in waves, so it might take a few days before you’re chosen. (Keep reading and I’ll tell you how to skip the line!) If you’re brave enough to upgrade, read on, and I’ll help you make it a better experience! Not sure about updating? Lifehacker has a good writeup for those who are unsure. tl;dr: There aren’t a lot of reasons not to. Come back to me when you’re ready.
Luckily, you don’t have to wait if you don’t want to.
Click here to go to Microsoft’s site and download the 32 or 64-bit download tool (if you’re not sure, and you bought your computer in the last 7 years, and/or have 4GB+ of RAM, just pick 64-bit), run it, and choose update. If you want to do a fresh install, you can use this tool to create installation media to do just that, however you have to upgrade a previous version on your machine and activate it at least once. This will whitelist your machine (instead of giving you a key), and you can then wipe your drive and start from scratch. The install is really straight forward, but if you have problems, Google is your friend.
During the installation process, I highly recommend you do not accept the express installation settings. Choose custom and read through each option. Before you install, you can avoid a lot of the features that many people are complaining about that may be a little bit intrusive on your privacy.
Make sure to use a local account instead of logging in to a Microsoft one if you’re concerned about privacy! Whenever you’re asked to log in or create a Microsoft account, you can always choose not to!
Got it installed? Great! Now what do you do?
- Cortana – Activate or Deactivate her. Since I’m not a huge fan of my desktop searches going out to the internet, or integrating my Microsoft account, I disabled it. Click the search bar > Settings gear icon > Off . A lot of people have been highly praising this feature, which I can understand given how much I abuse “Ok Google”.
- Disable Wi-Fi Sense – By default Windows will sync your Wi-Fi network keys with the cloud and share them with your friends. Go into your Wi-Fi settings (search for “Wi-Fi Settings if you can’t find it), change your settings and then manage. Uncheck the sharing boxes, and I’d also turn off the connect to suggested open hotspots feature. This is personal preference, feel free to leak your network keys.
- Check your privacy settings – If you followed my advice during install, a lot of the privacy settings will already be set how you want, but there are still some that will need tweaking. Click the start menu > Settings > Privacy. I’d go through each menu and alter the settings to what makes you feel comfortable. I’d pay special attention to the settings in General, Location, Feedback & diagnostics, and background apps.
- Change your reboot schedule – Windows updates are going to come and install whether you like it or not. You can control when you reboot, and that’s about it. If you don’t want to reboot at inconvenient times, get into the advanced update options by searching for “advanced update”. Change the dropdown from Automatic to “Notify to schedule restart”.
- Turn off P2P updates – This will likely result in slower update downloads, but the benefit is that you’re not going to be using your bandwidth to send updates to other people. Sending updates in the background to everyone at any given time of the day doesn’t sit right with me. To disable this awesome feature you’ll want to be in the advanced update menu from the previous tip. Click “Choose how updates are delivered”, then turn off “Updates from more than one place”.
- Install or update essential programs – I use Ninite.com whenever I do a fresh install, or simply need to check for updates. For the uninitiated, you pick all the programs you don’t have and want, or already have and want to make sure they’re up-to-date, then click Get Installer. Run the small .exe file, and it will download and install or update the selected programs with zero crapware. Keep the .exe file around to do updates later!
- Take some of the junk off the new start menu – Right click and unpin the garbage you don’t want, and pin new stuff you do want. It’s pretty simple, but I’ve seen people complain anyway.
NEW NERDY FEATURES
- INTEGRATED VIDEO GAME RECORDING!! While you’re in a game you can hit Win + G to bring up a little window that will allow you to record at full resolution with little or no drop in framerate. I tried it out during a boss fight on WoW, and forgot it was running.
- DirectX 12 – Better framerates, and prettier games are promised. So far, I can’t disprove this.
- XboxOne Streaming – I don’t have one of these boxes, but here is a how-to on this feature.
- New keyboard shortcuts – There are a ton, and I’m too lazy to compile them for you, so here’s a pretty comprehensive list at Gizmodo.
If you know any other great features, or tips, let us know below in the comments or forum and I’ll update this list!
Windows 10 is free for the first year for all Windows 7 and 8 users. So you probably don’t need to buy it unless you’re building a new computer, or if you don’t have a genuine version already. If you fall into either category, get Windows 10 on USB here, or Windows 10 Pro on USB here.