I have been receiving a good many calls about whether to upgrade to Microsoft’s July 29th release of Windows 10. Windows 10 is a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1. The upgrade will remain free for 1 year, until July 29, 2016. If you wait to upgrade until after that date, you may have to pay for the upgrade.
For Windows 7 users, my advice is to wait until at least February or March of 2016 to upgrade. The accessibility in Windows 10 is good and getting better every day. That being said, it still has a way to go to be completely accessible. So, do not rush to upgrade just yet.
However, I would say to Windows 8.1 users, “What are you waiting for?” Windows 8.1 has plenty of its own accessibility issues, so upgrading may actually be beneficial. It was for me.
I found my upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 pretty painless. I used NVDA to begin the upgrade. Once my computer rebooted, I pressed WINDOWS key plus U to start the accessibility options and used Narrator to finish the upgrade. I did have to wait almost 2 hours for the upgrade process to finish before I could use the WINDOWS plus U command to begin the setup process. I have heard it may take anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours for the upgrade to finish after the PC reboots.
While my upgrade was very smooth — I have read that most are — there have been a few reports of trouble upgrading. Be sure to back up everything before you attempt to upgrade.
You should be aware that by choosing express setup during the upgrade, you are giving up much of your privacy. Microsoft wants to copy all of your email addresses, phone numbers, mailing addresses etc. They even want to share this information with third parties. Also, when choosing express setup, Microsoft will choose which programs will be used when you open a file. For example, when opening a website, Edge is the default browser in Windows 10. Edge is not yet accessible and it is a pain in Windows 10 to change your default programs.
You can avoid these problems by choosing custom setup during the setup process. The first couple of screens in custom setup give you choices about the information you want to share. Make sure to choose “no” to the information you do not want to share. Contacts is a good example of something I did not want to share with Microsoft or its partners.
After the information sharing screens, you will get another screen asking which programs you want Microsoft to use when opening files. Simply uncheck the ones you do not want Microsoft to change from your default settings in your old version of Windows. For example, you may want to use Internet Explorer for web browsing or iTunes or Windows Media Player for music playback.
In my first couple of months using Windows 10, I already like it much, much more than Windows 8.1. It is somewhat like Windows 7 but with some differences. For example, the Start Menu is back, but not quite the same as the Windows 7 Start Menu. I have found the new Start Menu, as with much of Windows 10, to be very intuitive unlike Windows 8.1. So, it should be a pleasant learning experience for most users.
While I could go into all the features of Windows 10, I thought I would instead pass along some good resources. Educate yourself and time your upgrade to take advantage of the free download AND avoid unnecessary accessibility issues.
Microsoft Windows 10 page
How-To Geek Manage Accessibility in Windows 10
Windows 10 Resource List from Blind Bargains