Adventures in Windows – approaching 10

Microsoft announced a while ago, that users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 would get free upgrades to Windows 10. Today, ArsTechnica released an article called “Here’s how to get Windows 10 for free even if you don’t have Windows 7 or 8“. The short version is, you need to sign up for the Windows Insider program, install a preview version of the software and run it, then you get to run the final build, and get subsequent updates.

I first used Windows with Win3.11 at school, then when we got our first PC it came with Win3.1 (about a week before Windows 95 came out – Dad picked that up about as soon as it came out). We ran 95 and 98 a long time, my own first PC ran 98 and 98SE a long time – I had a brief experimentation with running Windows ME. ME had some cool features, but due to a lamentable shortage of stability, I upgraded back to 98SE.

When I first built a computer, I got XP Pro. That computer is still running it.

Now other computers in the house are running Windows 7 and 8.1. 7 I could probably get along with, 8/8.1’s change of style irritates me when I’ve tried to use it.

When I built my current computer (such a satisfying thing to do, upgrading some components recently was really cool, too), I didn’t buy an OS. There was a spare Vista Ultimate sitting around the house that I was allowed to use. I’ve heard bad things about Vista compared to good things about Vista SP1, but I managed to miss that whole debacle.

There’s a very apocryphal story, goes something like this:


Bill Gates died. As he got to the Pearly Gates, St Peter greeted him. “Welcome, Mr Gates. According to our records, you’ve done some really good stuff, and also done some not-very-nice things over the years. You are one of the very few true Neutrals we get around here. What we will do for you, you can have a look around Heaven and around Hell, then you can let us know where you’d like us to allocate you.”

Bill Gates thought this sounded reasonable, and so started off the tour of Heaven. There were the fluffy clouds and harps, it seemed quite pleasant. After a few days, his time was up, and so he got into the elevator to the Other Place.

He braced himself for what he might find. As the doors opened, he was pleasantly surprised to find himself on an open golf course. The clubs were weighted perfectly, it was great. As the tour progressed, he found himself sampling all sorts of sumptuous foods, fine wines, craft beers, the kind of music he didn’t know that he’d always wanted to hear…

After the tour, he was taken back to the Pearly Gates. St Peter shuffled over. “Well, Mr Gates, what’s your choice?”

“Well, St Peter, I find myself very surprised to say this, but I’m going to have to choose Hell.”

“Right you are, sir.” St Peter didn’t seem very surprised. Bill Gates walked back towards the lift. As it started descending, the temperature began to rise. It was already unbearable by the time he was halfway down. When he reached the bottom, he realised that Dante was more optimistic than anyone could have imagined. The chains, the tortures, the screams.

“Welcome, Mr Gates”, came a voice from behind, a voice that sent shivers down his spine despite the heat, a voice that threatened to tear his head apart. It was the Devil.

Barely able to speak, Bill Gates managed to stutter “What… happened? It looked… different before.”

“Oh, my deepest apologies, Mr Gates. That was the Beta.”


I think I heard that one round about Win98, and some OSes (Vista, 8) seem to have deserved it more than others (XP, 7). Still, there does seem to be wisdom in not being an early adopter.

I’m doing the 10 Preview upgrade, a) because it’s free, and b) because of the longer-term support. I think I’ll turn my computer into a dual-boot machine, and keep Vista as the primary OS, and play around in the 10 Preview and upgrade that when the time comes. Keep updated, try out the apps, see what legacy programs might still run, see what runs better.

Got some preparation and backup to do before I get to that point, though. Let you know how it goes.

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