Win 10 from one extreme to the other

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(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.

 

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