Windows 10: A sysadmin speaks his brains – and says MEH

Average Joe will be happy with it. So long as he hasn't used Windows 7

With less crap than before!

Windows 10 is a bit crap, but only a bit. Truth be told, it's actually quite a good operating system. I've been running it from the beginning of the open beta and it's taken everything I can throw at it.

To be perfectly clear: I'm not kind to operating systems. I hibernate my PCs. I fill the RAM up. I hibernate my PCs with the RAM full. I play games the hardware doesn't really like. I currently have more than 4,000 browser tabs open. Things like that.

Windows 10 takes everything and asks for more.

Windows 10 is faster on the same hardware than Windows 7. Noticeably so, especially if that hardware has an SSD. It's less frustrating than Windows 8 – well, mostly – and almost as usable as Windows 7.

Thanks to Windows 8 Classic Shell has evolved rapidly over the years. Today, it solves almost all of my UI issues with Windows 10 and even manages to detect when Microsoft has reset things and sets about reinstalling itself and reapplying the settings in order to compensate. Bloody brilliant.

Best of all, Classic Shell is available as part of Ninite, so it just gets installed along with all the other default required third-party software whenever I build a system. Ninite Pro is a reasonably priced and fantastic way to keep all that third party software up to date.

Classic Shell gets rid of (most) of the stupidity Microsoft inflicted with Ribbon Bars in various bits of the UI and it replaces the completely broken, utterly useless and ridiculously poorly designed (probably by committee) abomination that is Windows 10's Start Horror. Push button, receive mindspiders; this, at least, is solvable.

The Start Screen of Windows 8 is properly banished. The new notifications tray/basic settings widget thing is actually quite nice. Overall, most of the UI dings have been hammered out.

The bit crap part

So the first crap part of Windows 10 is the above-mentioned Start Horror thing. It shouldn't be. I cannot say enough mean things using enough colourful invectives. It's awful. But, as mentioned above, it's fixable.

Microsoft has mutated Windows Explorer into a Ribbonesque horror of additional awfulness. This is only partly fixable. It's the worst bit and probably the thing that will drive most power users away, if anything ends up driving them away.

Settings in Windows are inconsistent. Some are in the "Settings" Metro app and some are in the Control Panel. It takes a few hours to sort out what's where, but since there's really only two places to look it's honestly not that big of a deal.

The colour palette options are pretty broken. People who prefer "dark themes" are probably going to have trouble using Windows 10. If this is actually fixable, I haven't figured out how yet. Windows 10's customization capabilities seem strictly limited compared to previous versions of Windows.

There are some more specific issues that have irritated individual bloggers and tech journalists, but the above is the stuff I think the "average" user will notice and care about.

The dealbreakers

There are some potential deal breakers with Windows 10. To start off with, the VPN client is shite. It really does not like connecting to older VPN servers and its behaviour under many circumstances is inconsistent to the point of seeming non-deterministic. I've seen problems with it straight through to the release version.

Microsoft's spying on you is pretty awful. Windows 10 calls home with essentially every last thing you do and search for by default. Finding and disarming all the different ways Microsoft spies on you is difficult at best, and a futile game of whack-a-mole at worst.

It is perhaps not fair to project the experiences of participating in the open beta onto the release version of Windows 10, but I did get pretty sick of having to go in and defang Microsoft's creepy doll Cortana spymaster every time a major patch came out.

The NSA can go straight to hell, as can any company slurping up my info into data centres where that data can be easily "requisitioned". I may not be able to keep the NSA out of my data, but I do intend to make the poxy whoresons work for it!

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