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Why the hell did I install Windows 10?

I’ve been using Windows PCs for over 25 years, and DOS for even longer. My first version of Windows was Windows/286, which I purchased and installed on a (you guessed it) 286-12 while I was in high school. My favorite version of Windows had been XP until 7 came out, and then that became my favorite.

During their times on the market, I also liked Windows 98 and even Windows 3.11 — I always hated the fact that the latter said “for Workgroups” in the title. I used Windows 3.11 because I needed to write papers for college or FTP Doom in a window. Then I’d drop to DOS so I could play Ultima VII: The Black Gate and Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge. In my dorm room, no “workgroups” were in sight, unless my friends and I were sitting on the floor working out engineering problem sets with paper and pen and eating scallion pancakes at 12:30am.

But getting back to more recent times, I had been happily using Windows 7 for years. We regularly, sometimes even almost daily, run stories on Windows 10 and its various privacy issues and upgrade nags and backhanded, insidious ways to force you to install it. Someone even won a judgment against Microsoft because of it. Partially as a means of catharsis, we had a great chat with some of you, our readers, last weekend over whether anyone actually loves Windows as a whole, and it turns out many people do. Still, despite my satisfaction with Windows 7 and access to Windows 10 test machines, I installed Windows 10 on my main PC some time ago and have been using it ever since.

No, seriously. I can’t figure out what I have now that I didn’t have when I was running Windows 7. Put aside the fact that Windows 8 and its derivatives were a disaster, and I tried and tried with that and eventually gave up and went back to Windows 7 a couple of years ago. You could argue, as my friend and colleague and sometimes-ET-contributor Matthew Murray does, that Windows 10 was mostly about righting the wrongs of Windows 8. “The main reason it’s important is because it walks back Windows 8 and returns the desktop to primacy on desktop/laptop computers,” Matthew said to me today. “It’s not so much what it does​, but what it undoes. And, for me at least, that’s no small thing.”

I agree 100 percent with that sentiment. But let’s put that Windows 8 PTSD stuff aside and get back to why Windows 10 is better than Windows 7. And I can’t get there, even after using it every day for months. I could give it faster boot times. I could theoretically give it improved security, although I’m still running Avast and have to worry about malware all the time, so I’m not sure what’s such a big deal there on a consumer level. The PC has also blue-screened on me a couple of times, but that’s happened to me in Windows 7. I just can’t figure out why Windows 10 is so important.

If someone swapped my drive out and put one in with Windows 7 and all of the same apps, what would happen? I’d see longer boot times with my still-fast SSD. I don’t talk to my PC. I don’t need DX12. I don’t have an Xbox. I still don’t have a touchscreen monitor. I don’t use built-in Windows apps for things like email and calendar appointments. While that’s all personal preference, I also don’t see anything in that list that seems like a must have for a large majority of people. It’s… basically the same way I’ve been using my PC all along.

On the eve of Microsoft Windows 10 leaving its “free” status and jumping to $119 for consumers, the biggest reason I can think of for telling someone to upgrade to Windows 10 is that it doesn’t hurt — at least as long as you either adapt to or disable its background data collection, and we’ve got a new how-to on that coming soon. And, oh, that if you upgrade, you’ll finally dismiss those horrific nag windows, and this is your last chance to get it for free. As for why that’s a big deal? I’m coming up empty. I feel like the past seven years should have brought us further along on the Windows PC desktop, and they really haven’t. Seriously, ET readers, what am I missing?

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