I guess this is a topic I have some expertise on since I’ve migrated 6 systems—two desktops, two laptops and two tablets. Two systems were Windows 7 and the other 4 were Windows 8.1. One Windows 8.1 laptop was originally Windows Vista, migrated to Windows 7, migrated to Windows 8.1 and finally to Windows 10.
First the good news: all of my hardware and applications, so far as I have tested them, work under Windows 10. More good news is that all of the installations executed smoothly. The rest of this article deals with things that were not 100% up to my expectations in the migration with hints on what to do to mitigate the problems.
My first bit of advice about Windows 10 migration is to watch out for the offer of Express Settings at the end of installation. Selecting the Express Settings may be sharing more information with Microsoft than you are comfortable with sharing. Hint: do not accept Express Setup.
Several of my systems did not work right immediately after upgrading. There were a number of weird symptoms, but all were cured by rebooting. Hint: reboot your computer after installation before you try to use it.
The biggest annoyance in the migration is that the Windows 8.1 machines, which all had nicely configured start screens, ended up with start menus that were jumbled together or missing things. I had assigned my programs into groups—all of which became jammed into one, and a bunch of new stuff (new Microsoft Apps) was added in the front, like the Groove Music and Mail apps. Each system required time to manually unscramble the apps into meaningful categories again, remove the stuff I had no interest in, and to add things that got left out. Hint: take screen shots of your start screen to make the setup quicker under Windows 10.
Another thing that didn’t come across correctly was the network designation for my home network. Windows 10 decided to convert it from a private network to a public network, and then to shut down all the services and features reserved for private networks. That meant that all my machines were no longer discoverable to each other. This problem can appear in several ways depending on what you share. Hint: go to the Network Sharing Center (right click on the network icon in the system tray) and select the appropriate type of network.
All of my systems belonged to a homegroup. After installation, they didn’t. I had to re-join each machine to the homegroup. My old homegroup password was not changed. You can fix this by right-clicking the start menu, selecting Control Panel and searching in it for “homegroup.” Hint: re-join your homegroup.
This brings me to a pet peeve about Windows 10, the search. While it seemed that Windows 8.1 search did a great job of locating programs and settings, Windows 10 does not. One thing to understand about Windows 10 is that there is a good deal of asynchronous processing going on, so that while you might see something displayed in a list, that doesn’t mean that the list won’t get longer if you wait. You could, in the previous example, have typed “homegroup” into the desktop search bar and if you waited long enough, the Control Panel homegroup applet would have appeared. In my limited experience, two machines will respond differently to the same search. For example, “uninstall” will get you different results on different machines, and on one of mine, the “Uninstall a program” control panel applet has yet to appear.
If you had not previously signed on with a Microsoft account (as was the case for my two Windows 7 machines), you may want to change to it. You’ll be fighting an uphill battle unless you do, for example you won’t be able to use the new Cortana digital assistant. One thing, however, that happened to me when converting to a Microsoft account on my Windows 7 system was that my user permissions disappeared from some of the folders, under the User folder. I had to right-click on some of these folders and change the ownership from System to my account, or to add permissions. The symptom that first alerted me to the problem was that Windows Live Writer failed when publishing a blog post with a complicated message about access being denied. I also had a similar issue on a Windows 8.1 system that had always signed on with a Microsoft account; in this case it was Adobe Lightroom that was unable to access its catalog. Hint: check the permissions on your file folders.
One of my Windows 8.1 tablets has a Micro SD card where I keep my file history, downloads and pictures. I’m not sure whether this happened during the Windows 10 upgrade or before, but somehow the drive letter got changed from S: to D:, resulting in some program errors accessing folders. Hint: check all your system folders (Documents, Music, Pictures, Downloads…) and make sure they are assigned where you think they should be. To change, right-click on the folder, select properties, and look under the Location tab.
Cortana is a whole other issue. All I can say is that unless you have hardware designed for Cortana, saying “Hey Cortana” probably won’t work, and it is not just an issue of having a headset microphone. There is a new search box next to the start button, and it has a microphone icon—click that if “Hey Cortana” isn’t working, and the voice recognition will likely work. As I said before, Cortana requires a Microsoft Account. When you first begin, you won’t see the microphone icon until you click in the box and respond to the “Get started” button on the search panel. Clicking on that is also a pre-requisite for Cortana. My hasty examination of this startup dialog is that you have to agree to share a good deal of information with Microsoft to get it to work (stuff I hadn’t wanted to share in Express Setup).
One small issue for users of Microsoft Office 2013 on the Microsoft Surface hardware, is that the button on the Surface Pen starts the freebie version of OneNote, not the advanced version in Office 2013. There is apparently no way to change this at present. Hint: add OneNote 2013 to the task bar.
I had some issues with File History after migration. Two of the machines being migrated were Windows 7 Home Premium versions. Somewhere along the line, the File History that previously was directed to a shared location on one of my computers got turned off for those machines. Under Windows 10, there are two settings paths: Under the Action Center (click the Action Center Icon on the System Tray or type Windows-A) there appears at the bottom (you may have to wait for it) a list of buttons for immediate actions, one called “All Settings.” Under that you can set up your File History, but you cannot set it to a network location with the Home edition! If you type “File History” in the search box next to the start button, eventually there should appear “File History: Control Panel.” That one will let you save the history to a shared drive. Hint: check that your File History is working as intended.
The Skype “Modern Windows” app cannot be installed under Windows 10, so don’t waste time trying. Something new is supposed to be available later in the year. Hint: Use desktop Skype for now.
OneDrive is another area of concern because it works differently under Windows 10. Before, one could see all the files on the OneDrive, whether they were synchronized or not. Opening a file caused it to be downloaded. Now you select the folders to synchronize, and you will see only the files in those folders. Reports are that there will be a new scheme released later in the year, but until then you’ll have to think through what you will need to see on each machine. Until you set this up, Windows 10 will prompt you periodically to set it up. Finding the setting if not responding to a prompt is not obvious. One might look for a setting in the Control Panel, or perhaps under Properties for the OneDrive folder, or as as a right-click option on the OndDrive folder. Actually, what you have to do is to right-click on one of the folders under the OneDrive, and select “Choose which OneDrive folders to sync.” From that, you can set them all. Hint: develop a plan for what you need to see on each machine and create folders to isolate what is automatically downloaded from what is not.