Day One with Windows 10: Things get ugly

On the spur of the moment, I installed the Windows 10 preview. After trials and tribulations, I eventually went back to Windows 7.

windows 10 user

Boredom makes me do stupid things.

 With nothing to do one evening I decided it was time to pull the trigger and try out Windows 10. People had told me it was solid and stable enough for a work machine, so I threw caution (and sense) to the wind and did the install.

 The actual install was smooth as glass. About 15 to 20 minutes later up came the Windows desktop, which looked awfully familiar since it had migrated my old desktop and my Rainmeter settings, so that was a good start.

 That was also the easiest part.

 The new Start menu is rather nice but I noticed the search box was gone. Turns out all you need to do is start typing an app's name, a feature they introduced in Windows 8, no search box needed. However, if it was an app not known to Windows, the default was to a Bing search. Hopefully I'll get this figured out.

 The first problem I encountered was with a Microsoft product, which quite surprised me. When I started Outlook 2010, it started doing an update, looking for the Microsoft Office Single Image 2010 disk. Only one problem: I didn't have a DVD, I downloaded an .exe image of 2010 from Microsoft, and Outlook would not see the file as a single disk image. Thankfully, after a few 1706 setup errors, cancelling the install worked and Outlook started as normal.

 I tried running the Office download file (X17-75058.exe) to do a repair of my install. It wanted a file called en-us\dwtrig20.exe. But I could not find that file because the search box defaulted to looking on Bing, not my PC. In the end, the solution was to completely uninstall Office 2010 and reinstall it fresh.

 I use a Logitech G110 keyboard and its utility file didn't work at first, so I reinstalled that software. Then I got an error saying the MSVCP110.dll was missing. So I reinstalled Visual Studio 2012 libraries, and it finally worked.

 So far, not bad, only minor issues requiring the occasional reinstall. Then I realized my PC was awfully quiet. There was a speaker icon in the system tray, but all the audio buttons were grayed out. On left click there is an option to troubleshoot audio problems. What came up? "An error occurred while troubleshooting. A problem is preventing the troubleshooter from starting."

 The problem isn't new, either. I found a blog post that shows Creative Labs problems have existed since the beginning of the year. "Just wanted to let you know, we are working on the Creative issues that popped up in 9926. There are several threads on this forum that mention them. Thanks!" wrote a Microsoft staffer in a January post. Six months later, sound drivers for the most widely-used brand of sound cards are still broken.

 Way to go, devs.

 On investigation, I found that my sound card (SoundBlaster X-Fi) is not supported by the vendor, and in fact, Creative Labs won't have any Windows 10 drivers for most of its cards until summer or fall. Shades of the Vista launch, with drivers not ready until months after the OS launch. Yet another example of how far CL has fallen. You can't get help on the phone and the web site is a confusing, ugly mess. I think they are surviving on inertia.

 The final glitch involved Cortana, the digital assistant. In the Search bar settings, Cortana is always on no matter how often you shut it off. If you turn it off and then check again, it's back on. Since I don't have working speakers it doesn't really matter, now does it?

 I did get one pleasant surprise: Wise Care 365 and Wise Memory Optimizer both work. These are system optimizers and I would have thought that with all the changes to Windows they would break. But no, the optimizer does a great job of freeing memory and the system optimizer still finds junk files and such, and neither crashes the computer.

 Another thing, and I haven't seen this mentioned much, is that Windows 10 is aesthetically boring, spare and ugly. App windows look like something out of 1990s era X-Windows. This thing looks like a first revision by a first year UI designer. It's just plain ugly and it makes all of the apps look ugly.

 We are six weeks from launch. Windows 10 should be at the Release Candidate stage by now. I found far too many problems for an OS at that point. In the end, because I needed sound and could not go months without it, I returned to Windows 7.

 The thing is, I didn't want to. Much as I like Windows 7, it's still a six-year-old operating system, old by tech standards. Microsoft has stopped adding features and it won't do a service pack. After installing Service Pack 1, I still needed to download 212 updates, over a gigabyte.

 I'd like to go forward, not back. But not yet, it seems.

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