Windows 10: The Most Important Upgrades

Posted on September 7, 2015 by Paul Thurrott in The Sams Report, Windows 10 with 0

Windows 10: The Most Important Upgrades

Not my real family. 🙂

Over the next week or so, I’m going to embark down a path that could rip my family asunder. OK, not really. But I am going to upgrade my wife’s and kids’ PCs to Windows 10. And with such frequently-used PCs, there’s no guarantee of success.

What I can guarantee, however, is that the worst-case scenario is that I will have to restore one or more of them to their original state. That is, I’ll be practicing what I preach: for each of these PCs, I will create a recovery disk and perform a full system image backup before upgrading. This is what everyone upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1 to Windows 10 should do.

But for me, this kind of upgrade is an important test. As you might know, I’ve already performed the Windows 10 upgrade on over 25 different PCs and devices, and have done so multiple times on some of them. But these upgrades are in many ways just vague representations of the real world. My wife’s and kids’ PCs, by comparison, are heavily-used, and are very rarely checked by me to ensure they’re up-to-date or malware-free. They are, thus, real and representative PCs. They’re just like the millions and millions of PCs out there, waiting to be upgraded to Windows 10.

So what are these PCs?


Samsung Series 9 NP900X3B. Samsung’s second-generation Series 9 Ultrabook was such a perfect design that the firm has basically just kept using it in newer versions. My wife’s PC features a 1600 x 900 non-touch 13-inch display, a second-generation Intel Core i5 processor, 4 GB of RAM, and a 128 GB SSD. It shipped with Windows 7 originally but has been updated to Windows 8.1 over time. This PC is heavily wired up with a display adapter (for a 1080p external display), wired Ethernet networking, and a Microsoft keyboard and mouse. It is my wife’s primary PC and it will be very disruptive if this upgrade goes poorly (or takes too much time).


HP Stream 11. This late-2014 netbook-class PC features a 1366 x 768 11-inch non-touch display, an Intel Celeron N2840 processor, 2 GB of RAM, and 32 GB of eMMC storage. It originally shipped with, and still uses, Windows 8.1 with Bing. My wife uses this as secondary PC on a bookshelf that’s used as a standing desk, and only for writing (with Microsoft Word and Scrivener). So it’s not as crucial to her as her primary PC. (Interesting aside: my wife loves this computer, and—seriously—prefers it to Surface 3 because of the keyboard, which she says is excellent. Like me, she is a writer.)


Apple MacBook Air 11. My daughter’s PC is an older MacBook Air 11 with a Core 2 Duo processor. She is running Windows 7 Home Premium, not OS X, via Boot Camp. I am not currently clear on the exact specs or age of this device, but will detail that when I finally pry it out of her heavily-protected girl cave. According to my daughter, she uses the Air for homework—Word and PowerPoint, mostly—and for watching YouTube videos, though she seems to spend more time on the latter with her iPad these days. Her school issued Chromebooks this year, so it’s possible that her time with this aging notebook is coming to an end. I will be careful with it nonetheless.

Lenovo ThinkPad X300. My son’s PC is a 2008-era device that really defined what an Ultrabook could be when it was originally announced. The specs are interesting: a 1440 x 900, 13.3-inch display, a 1.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo processor, 2 GB of RAM, 64 GB of SSD storage. There was originally a slim-line optical drive in the unit, but I replaced that with a Lenovo secondary battery. This one is really beat up—you know, teenagers—and is still running Windows 7 Home Premium. According to my son, he has rarely needed t over the past year because, in his words, he would do heavy duty typing on the PCs at school and then just edit on his iPad at home.

Put simply, each of these PCs is a wonderful real-world upgrade opportunity. Each is, likewise, a wonderful real-world opportunity to just buy a new PC. With that in mind, I may be replacing some of these. My wife’s Samsung, for example, is pretty old for a daily-use machine, and I do have an HP Spectre x360 that she would probably prefer. (She’s expressed interest in the touch-screen, at least, but the specs are so much more modern too.) The HP Stream 11, curiously, will remain: as noted, she prefers it to the Surface 3, which really surprises me.

Thanks to the local school system, both of my children are being pushed down non-Windows paths that involve less expensive Chromebooks and once-trendy iPads. This lessens the need for new PCs, but given the age of those PCs—both are Core 2 Duo machines that are at least seven processor generations out-of-date—I may replace them anyway. As you might imagine, I have numerous newer PCs from which they can choose, including that Surface 3, which might prove enticing to at least one of them.

We’ll get to the hardware upgrades later. Next, I want to upgrade each, in turn, to Windows 10, and see how that goes. I’ll report back as I do so. Starting, of course, with those recovery disks and system image backups. (Oddly enough, this is the next step in my Windows 10 Clean PC series as well.)