As the 29 July 2015 release date for Windows 10 approaches Microsoft has been releasing security updates in fairly rapid succession. These appear to be bug fixes as well as patches for security issues. Think of it as a kind of fix everything at once update. Unfortunately, there has been some device drivers updated as well, most notably NVidia graphics drivers. These appear to adversely impact people who are using SLI (multiple graphics cards) and multiple monitor configurations. In essence this is the serious gamer community that use Windows as a platform because, lets face it, Mac OS X has never been a great gaming platform and developer support for game development in Linux is primitive at best. In other words, Windows is the only significant platform for serious, cutting edge PC gaming.
Upgrading to Windows 10 may make a lot of sense for the gamer. It supports Direct X 12, which will not be released for any previous of Windows. So, even though there aren’t a lot of games out there that use Direct X 12, there certainly will be and their releases dates could come fast and furious with Christmas only five months away. What else would you get the gamer on your shopping list but a the latest and greatest game?
The problem with NVidia and Microsoft is that there appears to be two different version of drivers for the graphics cards. Now, normally you’d think the hardware manufacturer’s drivers would take precedence. But from past experience I have not always trusted the hardware manufacturer’s versions of any software to work out of the box. I’m not saying Microsoft has a great track record for releasing stable software but when it comes to drivers that work with Windows, usually the Microsoft version has been tested on a variety of systems. Gamers, however, want the fasted drivers for their machines and that is usually whatever the hardware maker has just posted. It may be barely better than a beta version of a driver.
Apparently what has happened in the past couple of days is kind of the reserve situation. You see Microsoft wants to increase its control, over the upgrade and update process to ensure stability of the installed base for Windows 10. That means they will release software updates and force them to be installed. Once released Windows will update on either a fast ring – immediately – or a slow ring – within a month of an updates release. The Windows 10 Beta Testers, aka Windows Insiders, are receiving these security updates that at present include display drivers and a number of other pieces of software that probably wouldn’t normally come in a security patch. It may be to save time on execution of the patches, but it has cause some serious problems for some people out there with rather exotic configuration. I would point out that they should not be running Windows 10 in the first place but, being of a gamer mentality and wanting the latest and greatest…well, that’s why they are running Windows 10 and having problems with the upgrades. and updates. They want what’s cutting edge technology, even if it is a little buggy at times.
The bugs in these drivers range from not being able to boot a system normally to losing multiple monitor support, to having the driver attempting to install multiple times, once for each graphics card installed, to having a system unable to boot at all.
I’m not a gamer, though I share the mentality of a gamer in wanting to run the latest updates and being at the cutting edge of things. My graphics driver is for the Intel chip on a Surface Pro 3. That driver works in all but a few feature functions that were supported with the original driver under Windows 8 and 8.1, namely being able to rotate the Surface while in tablet mode and have the chip change from landscape to portrait automatically. This may be something that needed to be ironed out between the touch screen LCD display manufacturer, Intel and Microsoft. And the way Windows 10 is made to default to desktop verse tablet mode (unless specified otherwise) I’m not too sure there will be a driver written that does support the feature. For me that is not a deal breaker in upgrading to Windows 10. As a writer I use the Surface almost always with either the portable keyboard or a Bluetooth keyboard while it is connected to a Surface Pro 3 docking station. In the latter configuration, I have an external monitor that allows pivoting to portrait mode for editing pages. This I have to tell the driver to do that, though supposedly the device supports the function with its software (on some operating system out there, perhaps Mac OS X). For the most part, that works for me, doing it manually at needed. There are a couple of minor glitches with the monitor when exiting from sleep mode and that requires me to cycle the power on the monitor, but it is a livable situation at this point.
I guess my point about whether to upgrade or not depends on how interested you are in running the latest software. You have to be ready for glitches and some inconvenience. So I’m not sure what all the online whining is about. Microsoft is sprinting to the finish line for the Wednesday deadline for the release of Windows 10. They are pumping out fixes for this, that and the other. But technically it is still beta software, regardless of whether this was the RTM version the OEM’s receive a couple of weeks ago. All things considered, I think this is remarkably stable as an operating system that is receiving new updates every few hours.
If you use your computer daily and need it to be as stable as possible and don’t really have the time to manage updating it and learning new features, DON’T upgrade to Windows 10 right away. If you are like me and see things as a challenge, like solving a puzzle, and don’t mind some inconvenience in the process just to be able to play with the newest technology, then DO upgrade. For all of those somewhere between those extremes, it’s your choice. If you hate Windows 8.1 and want to have something more like Windows 7’s desktop, then give Windows 10 a whirl. For everyone else, including those with some exotic configurations of hardware, give it a few weeks to a month for Microsoft to get all the driver support stabilized.