Win 10 Creators update – how’d my old laptop do?

Win 10 Creators update – how’d my old laptop do?

Screen capture of settings panel on Creators Update
I took the plunge and upgraded to the Win10 Creators edition last week.  Couple of reminders – make sure you’ve done a backup before doing any major update. Chances of something going wrong are small, but you never know.  Microsoft has issued a warning, when this article was published, that there may be issues with Bluetooth connectivity after the update. They are working through problems now. So, unless you love troubleshooting or don’t use Bluetooth, hold off on forcing the Creators update.

The install:

Oh my, it took a long, long time to install. Painfully long. So long, I was convinced something had gone wrong.  It took a staggering 3 ½ hrs to install (not counting the download).  My laptop is about 4 years old so it should install faster on a new machine. But patience is needed.

First look:

The first time I put the machine to sleep, I was faced with the dreaded screen of death. The system crashed when waking.  Turns out to have been a very simple issue – one bad driver. That’s it, reinstalled the wifi driver and things have been rocking along since then.

Stability:

Wow – big improvement in overall stability. As I said, I’m using an older laptop, abt 4 years old and it’s a bit slow now and periodically freezes when opening large apps. I’ve been holding off getting a new machine until the new AMD chips are available for laptops. Since the upgrade, the freezes have all but vanished and apps & programs open quicker. To be honest, I’m surprised. I didn’t expect a noticeable difference. But, yea, Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Wamp etc are all running smoother and faster.

Turning on Game Mode in the options panel seems to have given the entire computer an impressive boost in speed. So, that’s an option I’d recommend you turn on if you’re working with an older machine. Not really sure if it will make a difference on a new computer, but give it a try anyway. But on my over used and much abused laptop, both gaming mode and Creators has given it a new lease on life.

The initial bootup though hasn’t seen an improvement. Is it faster? Hmm, maybe a bit. But not enough to jump up and down about.

Edge browser has seen a significant increase in stability and speed.  While I like Edge and felt there was much potential in the browser, I have had a few beefs with it’s stability. It has a nasty habit of failing to load pages that Chrome and Firefox breeze by. As well, it would lock up on a lot of page running scripts with maddening regularity, again pages that Chrome and Firefox had no issues with.  It’s faster and, at least on my machine, rock solid. It blasts past pages that previously hung it up.

A few more extensions are showing up in the Microsoft Store, with a couple worth looking into now that the Edge stability has improved. Oh and the store? Can’t believe it’s the same store I bitched about so much in the early days. It loads fast – no more little circle in an endless loop of anticipation.  If you haven’t looked at Microsoft Store yet, do. It’s worth the time.

One major irritant has been fixed.  The feature to disable the trackpad mouse when an external is plugged in, stays enabled.  It’s one of those things that got under my skin and thankfully it works now.

The new trouble shooting tools are huge leap forward, especially for the average user who doesn’t have a nerd friend to come over and fix things. The previous offerings were spartan and didn’t really do much. I never found them terribly useful. The trouble shooting tab (found in Update & security) has a substantial list of tools to fix the usual suspects.

Complaints:

Reports are true, users can no longer disable updates. Yes, we should all keep our systems up to date, but there are times when you don’t want an update to come screaming through.  I can see this being a problem down the road.

The control panel is still there, but gone is quick access via right click on the start menu. I nearly had a panic attack when I first tried to access it.  If you’re like me and you see control panel as a security blanket, you can use search to find it.  Right click on the icon in the search window and pin it to the Start menu or Task bar for quick access. The bulk of features are easily found in All Settings, but sometimes it’s easier to rustle around in the control panel.

Nice features:

Mail has been revamped. It seems to be less buggy and obstinate. I found the constant freezes or refusal to retrieve mail frustrating. To date, the integration with Edge is faster.

There is a nice feature which can’t be accessed on all accounts if you have more than one email account installed. It’s the “Other” feature. Flakey name aside, you can now sort your email into “Focused” and “Other”. Focused presumably be the important, primary emails and “Other” a holding pen for non-priority mail like newsletters or mail from the relative who sends 20 joke emails a day.  Word has it, MS is planning on expanding it to function on all accounts, but until then, it’s available on the primary email only.

Win10 now comes with a night light that dims the blue haze that screens/monitors cast.  The problem with monitors is they cast a blue light that tricks the brain into thinking it’s daytime. Makes it harder for the brain to shut down. Microsoft now gives you the option to turn off the blue in favour of softer, warmer colours. These are easier on both the brain and the eyes. Users can set a timer so the night light effect turns on automatically.  Here’s a tip if you’re a migraine sufferer – use night light if you don’t have the luxury of stopping work. Makes big difference.

Lots of other features I haven’t fully explored yet, but plenty to play with, including the revamped Microsoft Paint program – Paint 3D. A cursory look is eye popping.  If you aren’t in a hurry to upgrade, wait until Microsoft pushes it to your computer. If you have an older machine, be prepared for a longish installation.  But while you’re waiting in line, make sure you do that backup.

 

Tales from the tech support desk

Weird ass kind of day. Frustrating and … yea just weird. One of those days that requires a lot of lateral thinking. Started with an iPhone 6 caught in an update loop. When I finally halted the rebooting, and got it to the restore phase, I though “cool, half way home”. Then the looping started over. Tried a full reset, stuck on the Apple icon. Finally did a few tricks, and got the phone to do a factory reset, and it also installed the latest updates. Almost did a happy dance, when the HOLA screen popped up. It took 40 min to get to that stage.

And then the other shoe dropped …

…. It wouldn’t allow the phone to be authenticated. For some reason the phone wanted an email address that had been purged from the system 2 years ago. This phone didn’t even use the address. There’s a dent in my forehead from banging it on the keyboard. Called Apple and, I have to say, their tech support was able to fix the issue. It took the two of us about 40 more minutes to get around this nasty little issue, along with a few others that cropped up – fix one issue and another popped up. But, everything was working when I left.

After that looked at an older desktop, still running Vista (which rates right up there with Windows ME for nightmare service calls). It’s run it’s course and simply time to be replaced. Beeps randomly on boot so I couldn’t pin down the error, but it’s freezing and not responding a lot. Customer will replace it. Not worth repairing. It still works, but it’s getting increasingly erratic.

From there I went to a DOA desktop and a Win 10 machine stuck in a boot loop as well. The dead machine was a bit of a shame – POST errors indicating hardware failure. New machine will be needed, and this one isn’t that old.

The other machine was fixed with what I call the “Woodpecker Approach”. Shut the machine off, pull the power plug and wait 10 seconds. Put plug back in, turn machine in and start tapping F8 like crazy. Just keep tapping, tapping, tapping until it boots the system. For some reason, it works. Theoretically it’s supposed to pop the system into safe mode, but it just seems to by pass whatever the issue is and boots normally.

So 2 out of 2. Had better days.