Win 10 from one extreme to the other

(tl/dr: Win 10 1903 is not as different from LTSC as you might think.)

So, I am the guy who posted here praising LTSB/LTSC eval versions of Win 10 as an ideal “Win 7.5.” That has been the main OS on my main PC (a ThinkPad T420) since I stumbled across the free eval version last year. Great stuff.

But the buzz over 19H1 intrigued me. Last week I blew away both LTSC and the Xubuntu install I dual-booted, installed Win 10 Pro 1809, then enrolled in Insiders to get 19H1. (now 1903, per Winver)

I deliberately went from one extreme to another. In LTSC, I used Classic Shell, Avast for a/v, Firefox/Pale Moon browsers, (no Edge in any case), Thunderbird for email, Open Office, Foxit as pdf reader, the old Photo Gallery, VLC, etc. Solid desktop programs from way back. Plus I set telemetry to Security level and turned off almost everything in Privacy. Also I saved to on-prem Documents and other folders, with frequent manual backups.

On 1903 I use standard Start, native Windows Defender for a/v, Edge as default browser and pdf reader, the Mail app, the Photos app, Groove Music (strictly as a music player) and I installed Office 2019 permanent version (click to run). I set my Documents folder to OneDrive and save there by default. Telemetry is set to Full for Insiders.

On LTSC I consciously ran it as though it were Win 7 with under-the-hood Win 10 goodness. My instincts lean that way, but I took it to an extreme. With 1903 I am consciously steering as far clear as I can from the old familiar drill.

But here’s the thing: It ain’t _that_ different.

I am a standard PC user, most comfortable with a non-touch desktop or laptop, preferably a ThinkPad. I have a cheap Android tablet I got for Christmas I seldom use. I have learned to appreciate my Galaxy S6, but have no plans to upgrade it any time soon. (Mostly due to $$$ but it works fine for me as is.)

Years ago I was definitely a tech enthusiast, as time and finances allowed. I wasted too much time tweaking and playing with Windows and Linux on desktops and laptops. Fascinating. Since mobile started to take over consumer and Win 8 came out….much less so. I see where things are going—have been going for years—but it does not ‘speak’ to me, for the most part.

As I said: The big takeaway is that the user experience with LTSC is not as different from 1903 as I expected it to be. It’s still sitting in front of a PC, calling up programs/apps to get stuff done and have fun. It might be different on a touch screen or mobile device. Those who rely on Cortana (which I turn off and keep off) would not like LTSC. Those who hate all hint of ads might not like seeing Candy Crush in the 1903 Start menu even if it’s not installed. Etc.

But it’s more similar than different.

And I like the subtle changes in 1903. Little things in Settings that do not seem like much. I agree this is a good sign that the focus is on the right track. Getting the little things right is what made Win 7 a big improvement over Vista. (In hindsight, pin-to-taskbar was bigger than a little thing. I wonder if some MSFT genius already had the Win 8 UI in mind then.)

Going forward, I will likely add back some of the old drill to my 1903 experience. Mail is adequate but I see a return to the combination of Thunderbird and webmail. Will likely install a light photo editor like Image Glass someday. The Photos app tries to do it all—viewer, organizer, editor—and it’s OK, but maybe tries to do too much.

Been awhile since I used MS Office full-time, so I plan to dig into that and explore. Word feels lighter than did previous versions, which is good.

Edge is better than before. Disabling autoplay, extensions like uBlock, import without issues, etc. It also works well with .pdfs. Not sure it will survive long-term as my exclusive browser, but I like it overall. Getting a handle on what Edge is—not just a browser, not just an engine, not really comparable to any standalone program from Win 7 or before—might be a key to grasping what Win 10 is all about.

And the Store is there if I ever need or want it. (Unlike LTSC, which does not include Store, Edge or Cortana.)

Note that I did not mention much about services, unless you count OneDrive. That will take awhile yet, in my case. But for folks like me who want to move forward without losing touch with the old days, Win 10 as of 1903 might be ready to meet you more than halfway.


Conversation 10 comments

  • scoop

    27 January, 2019 - 9:04 am

    <p>Is there a way to fix typos in the subject line of threads here? It's kind of frustrating. Thanks.</p>

    • Paul Thurrott

      Premium Member
      27 January, 2019 - 11:00 am

      <blockquote><em><a href="#399871">In reply to scoop:</a></em></blockquote><p>Not currently. Will ping Tim about this again.</p>

  • Tony Barrett

    27 January, 2019 - 9:22 am

    <p>LTSC is still the only version of Win10 worth considering if you want as clean a system as possible, without all the superfluous junk, telemetry collecting features, Cortana, App Store and Edge. Those who care nothing for high risk/low return feature updates should hunt it down if possible, although it's true, getting it activated can be tricky. I only think a small percentage care about feature updates anyway – the 'features' mean little to most, and can cause more problems than they're worth.</p><p>MS don't seem to be listening to most feedback, and still push Win10 in the direction <em>they </em>want it to go, and it looks like they'll drag as many along for the ride who can bear it, and those bi-annual updates will keep being pushed out with little regard for quality, with MS still believing they can fix everything later.</p>

  • Paul Thurrott

    Premium Member
    27 January, 2019 - 11:00 am

    <p>I fixed that headline typo, sorry there's no way for you to do that. It's in the queue.</p>

  • James Burns

    27 January, 2019 - 12:03 pm

    <p>Too many users wear tinfoil hats in my view. And endless tweaking of the OS is more an end in itself than actually providing a more workable system. With a few exceptions, I leave things alone when I update – period. As a result, I have few issues with my OS and I'm able to get things done. I sometimes think that "getting things done" versus playing around with the OS is a dichotomy that needs to be recognized. Turn this off…and that off… and use this old program rather than the newer one… and… what is the point? For me this four year old laptop running Windows 10 OS is just fine. I use what comes with the new system to get the things done that need doing. Then I push away from the computer and live a real life: outside, enjoying the fresh air and doing things I enjoy. Sitting and tweaking endlessly is, in my view, a ridiculous waste of time (and time is precious and quickly slipping away). </p>

  • hrlngrv

    Premium Member
    27 January, 2019 - 2:03 pm

    <p>If you need to do A LOT of copying from PDFs to paste into other software, you may find Foxit to Edge a downgrade.</p><p>You didn't mention what replaced VLC. If that's Windows Media Player, ugh.</p>

    • scoop

      27 January, 2019 - 2:40 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#399914">In reply to hrlngrv:</a></em></blockquote><blockquote>I still have Foxit installed. Also have MPC-HC—I use both that and VLC but only one at a time—for the rare DVD. (Crazy that a consumer version of Windows does not come with DVD playback, but that ship left the barn years ago.) For now, my default music player is Groove but that could change. It's a decent player if that's all you need. I get that folks are unhappy about the end of the streaming service.</blockquote><blockquote>Software that's installed on an as-needed basis, just in case: Firefox, Thunderbird, Foxit Reader, Open Office, MPC-HC, Windows Photo Viewer. (Yes that needs to be installed on Win 10. They be serious about pushing you to use the UWP app Photos for everything.)</blockquote><p><br></p>

  • longhorn

    28 January, 2019 - 11:24 am

    <p>I like LTSC. Thanks for recommending it in your previous post. It's just a platform to run Win32 software. Since it's pretty bare-bones, updates are fewer and smaller. I guess LTSC would qualify as "Windows Light". After cold boot RAM usage is sitting at 1.2 GB. I have about 20 applications installed, but none of them auto-starts. I would describe LTSC as a "peaceful" experience and I really like that. There is too much drama surrounding the WaaS releases.</p><p><br></p>

    • scoop

      28 January, 2019 - 12:01 pm

      <blockquote><em><a href="#400084">In reply to longhorn:</a></em></blockquote><p>Yes, LTSC is great. If MSFT released a consumer-targeted version, a la LTSC Pro (rather than Enterprise) with the more esoteric business features stripped out, I would pay a small sum for it. Not gonna happen, but would be nice. But Win 10 Pro 1903 is sufficiently drama-free that an oldtimer who wants to stay in touch with both the past and the future can use it and for the most part enjoy it. The UWP apps still don't thrill me, but they get the job done if needed, and you can pretty much ignore them if you want. </p>

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