How-to: Handle Windows 10 Technical Preview

Windows 10 Technical PreviewMicrosoft released the Windows 10 Technical Preview in early October and given some positive review, some people decided to upgrade their main Windows 7 or 8 operating system to Windows 10. This was not the smartest thing to do for a number of reasons and here’s why.

1. It’s a Technical Preview. Yes, the clue is in the name. This is NOT a stable consumer release. It comes with no warranty, no guarantee of stability, reliability, data security, uptime, downtime or tea-time.  
Windows 10 Technical Preview is an evaluation copy for enterprise users and developers. It’s an early test version allowing application developers and corporate IT departments to see a hint of what they’re letting themselves in for come release.

2. Windows 10TP is a feedback tool. Microsoft is using it to get feedback from early adopters and engaged customers, and hopefully, Microsoft will incorporate that feedback into a final product that meets the needs of those customers. Although in the case of Windows 8, the extensive test labs didn’t give Redmond the kind of feedback it wanted, so it went ahead and flew in the face of all commercial wisdom and did it’s own thing regardless. Brave. Dumb, but brave. Hence Windows 8.1 fixed the things MS knew should have been fixed all along.

So Windows 10TP does a lot of data recording, and if you don’t turn off every single setting controlling what is reported back to Microsoft HQ, it’s likely to send details of almost everything you’ve done back to the lab. No, it is not a commercial key-logger, but if you have any expectations of privacy under Win10TP, ditch them.

3. The trial version will expire – the Technical Preview build will expire on April 15, 2015. It’s a freebie. It’s a pre-release version. At some point, MS will want a licence fee for it. If you don’t pay up then, it will stop working.

So what can I do with it?
You can run Windows 10 TP as a fully-functional test-rig and road test it as you would any other operating system; test the compatibility of your favoured applications; try the new start screen and tools, try some of the advanced features.


  • As a dual-boot with Windows 7 or 8 (making sure you know how to do this before you start AND that you’ve backed up your data in case you get a non-starting computer in need of a factory reset)
  • In a virtual machine – Hyper-V, VirtualBox, VMWare and Parallels will all allow you to create Windows 10TP virtual machines. Virtualisation is a wonderful testing tool. There are compatibility and driver issues, but you can work around or live with these.
  • Install is on a second machine that you can wipe and start over when needed.

What should I not do with it?
Do NOT think you can run this as your main machine operating system for critical work. Although Windows 10TP has been remarkably stable thus far, a number of preview builds have been released, some of which have been more stable than others.

There is no guarantee that today’s preview build will upgrade and install in equal or better state than it’s predecessor; the stability of a given preview build can go down as well as up and we’ve seen it happen through November and December.

Whether you decide to upgrade through Windows upgrade, or burn the machine and install a new preview build from scratch, the success or failure seems mightily dependent on the hardware devices on which you run it, the drivers available and the application software you run inside it. A number of test-jocks have reported failures from catastrophic to irritatingly inconvenient, with the net result that Windows 10TP cannot yet be relied upon for daily productive work

So unless you are an IT professional or home-hacker (in the proper sense) capable of manipulating and backup up both your data and windows install, we do not recommend that you install Windows 10TP.

Why not?

  • The preview builds contain bugs, including new and different bugs even as the old ones are patched.
    Preview builds are error-prone, unstable, likely to cause your computer to crash and may even harbour security flaws.
  • It doesn’t support all hardware, because Microsoft doesn’t offer all drivers and the native drivers aren’t yet available from the manufacturers. All you can do is try the Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 versions and cross those fingers…
  • Windows 10 will go through extensive changes before the Developer Preview in early 2015, the Consumer Preview in mid-2015 and the final release in late 2015. It will take this long for new software and hardware drivers will be developed.

If you do decide to try the Technical Preview, there is a  Windows 10 TP section on Microsoft’s Community Forum. I’ve already searched for various issues, without necessarily finding the answers I wanted (it’s too soon); if you get seriously stuck, you can post your own questions. AJS

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