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Windows 10 reality check: Separating fact from fiction

Woody Leonhard | June 9, 2015
Licensing, upgrade paths, ‘Windows as a Service’ -- here’s the lowdown on common Win10 misconceptions.

It isn't yet known if pirate Windows Insiders (Microsoft's registered Windows 10 beta testers) will be able to continue in the Windows Insider program and get the latest Fast and Slow ring builds direct from Microsoft. However, if the machine they're using does not have a "genuine" Windows 7 or 8.1 license, they'll still be running pirate software. Microsoft says it will keep track of your license and store information about it in the Windows Store.

Fact: You can upgrade directly from the Technical Preview releases to the RTM edition

This is the first Windows beta in history where testers can upgrade from a beta build to the final version, without completely wiping their systems in the process. Microsoft has assured us it will be possible to upgrade directly from Technical Previews to the RTM version of Windows 10. More important, recent beta versions have had very few problems doing in-place upgrades, although based on decades of sad experience, I would still recommend a clean install.

Fact: Windows Media Center will be uninstalled when you upgrade to Windows 10

It's dead, Jim. Microsoft has officially announced that you won't get Windows Media Center in Win10 -- it will be deleted as part of the upgrade -- even if you paid for it once upon a time. If it's any consolation, Microsoft will provide a free DVD player program for anyone who bought Windows Media Center.

Fiction: You can't open Windows 7 backups in Windows 10

Microsoft added the capability to open Windows 7 backups in Windows 10 build 10122 -- a very important capability for Windows 7 users who have backups they need or want to use after upgrading. However, it remains to be seen whether we'll get all of Windows 7's backup capabilities, which were yanked in Windows 8.

Fact: OneDrive in Windows 10 sucks

It's a bit of an overstatement, but not by much. In Windows 8.1, File Explorer shows you all of the files in OneDrive. In Windows 10, you'll see only the files that have been synced to your machine. The demise of this "smart files" feature means that, until Microsoft fixes the problem, you will have files inside OneDrive that don't show up in File Explorer or in many apps that access OneDrive. Paul Thurrott calls the situation "freaking terrible." Mary Branscombe submitted a feature suggestion in November that would make it one-click easy to synchronize everything; Microsoft has responded by basically saying, "We'll fix it sometime."

Fiction: You need a Microsoft account to install or use Windows 10

You will be able to perform a clean install of Win10 without a Microsoft account. In fact, the old Windows 8 workarounds (notably, entering a bogus Microsoft account when prompted) still work in the current beta builds. What isn't clear is whether you'll be able to upgrade in place from Win7 or Win8.1 without a Microsoft account.


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