Frustrating Experiences with Windows 10

I upgraded my laptop recently. My last laptop was a souped up Lenovo, and it was a great computer, but after 3 years of daily use it was starting to get slow. I ended up buying a refurbished laptop from Lenovo’s Outlet. Originally I was going to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,200 for a brand new Lenovo P50 Thinkpad. Since I use it for business I felt justified in upgrading it, but $2,200 is a lot of coin for a laptop. I ended up picking up this refurbished model for closer to $1,200. It was a great deal and I’m happy with the laptop itself.

Unfortunately, one of the compromises in this purchase was that the computer shipped with Windows 10. My previous computer came with Windows 7, which was a pretty no-nonsense operating system. It wasn’t perfect, but it was reasonably stable and stayed out of the way. I skipped Windows 8 entirely, which looked to be a total disaster, and I disabled my old computer from “upgrading” from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I actually had to install a program to prevent my computer from upgrading, as Microsoft pushed Windows 10 so hard that it would automatically update your computer if you weren’t careful. This eventually resulted in a lawsuit that didn’t cost the company nearly enough money.

However, when I learned that Windows was phasing out Windows 7 and would stop supporting it in a couple years, I decided to try out Windows 10.

The problem with Windows 10 is that it appears to be catering to the tablet / smart phone crowd. Programs are now “apps”, and a bunch of bloatware garbage comes pre-installed on the computer. Some of this is Lenovo’s fault, but I think most of the stuff is Windows 10. They pepper you with notifications, add animated graphics in the start menu, encourage you to import contacts and share things, pre-install shit like “One Drive” and “Xbox” on to your computer, want you to sync up various accounts, etc. And then there is Cortana, a bullshit Siri like program that gets in your way and apparently tracks all your data. No thanks.

So I spent several hours figuring out how to get rid of most of this crap, some of which involved editing the registry of the computer and using the command prompt to uninstall otherwise uninstallable programs. After I did this I found that Windows 10 behaved similarly to Windows 7, and it let me use the basic programs I need to run my business (Microsoft office, email, photo editing software, etc.). Life goes on.

The problem is that Microsoft keeps “updating” Windows 10. I’m sure some of these fixes are improving the software. Making it faster, more stable, and fixing security issues. The problem is that with each passing update they re-install all the apps I uninstalled and re-activate Cortana. So I have to figure out how to remove all this stuff again, and it gets increasingly more difficult to do this as Microsoft tries harder to hide the ball.

As I type this article Microsoft is installing it’s “Creator’s Update”. I have no idea what that even means, but I am sure once the install is over I’ll have to go back and clean house again.

I just need a computer that runs basic programs for my business. I suppose if I really wanted to be a rebel I could buy a Mac (expensive), or install Linux (probably more hassle then it is worth to get it to work with my assistant’s computer and the rest of the world, especially given that I am not particularly savvy with computers). So I’ll stick with my Windows machine and use it to write passive aggressive blog posts about my angst with Windows 10.

An operating system should stay out of the way. It should allow you to run programs, store files, and search for things. It should not be the main event. I don’t want to be cajoled by Cortana or bombarded with a bunch of stupid notifications about things I don’t care about.

Also, computers should be getting faster and faster. In some ways they are, but it seems that the software gets more complicated in lockstep with the rise in technology, so the net effect is that computers are still comparatively slow. An extra 25% horsepower is great, but if it comes with an extra 25% in dead weight it doesn’t really do anything for you. The net result is that my Windows 10 machine is slower to boot up then my Windows 7 machine was. How’s that for progress?

I guess Microsoft is trying to turn your computer into a cell phone. A never ending circus of updates and notifications, designed to appeal to our dopamine addicted brains and keep us distracted. That way they can shill more software on you, preferably in the form of monthly recurring software as a service (SAAS). It makes sense, as I am sure it creates job security for the developers at Microsoft and profits for the shareholders, but it irks me to no end.

All I can say is that I don’t regret uninstalling email and social media applications from my phone. And I don’t regret uninstalling Cortana and all the other distracting garbage that comes with Windows 10. Keep on fighting the good fight.