This Dumb Industry: The Windows 10 Store

By Shamus
on Sep 27, 2016
Filed under:
Column

It’s a slow Tuesday afternoon and I want to accomplish two things:

  1. I want to play a current-gen racing game with supercars and such, because I’ve just binge-watched Top Gear and it’s given me a case of racing itch.
  2. I want to buy a game through the Windows 10 Store. Not because I expect it to be a pleasant, consumer-friendly experience, but because I want to see what the next-gen Games for Windows LIVE looks like. Just how bad can it possibly be? My goal is to have an experience worth writing about.

Only one of these goals was achieved. I’ll let you guess which one.

It started off so well…

As luck would have it, Forza Motorsport 6: Apex is free. There are actually two Forza games coming out right now: Apex, and Forza Horizon 3. I don’t understand why we have the same branding used on two different series with different numbers. I don’t know enough about the racing genre to understand the complex lineages at work here, but who cares? Apex is free, which is an ideal price-point for me. If it works out, maybe I’ll buy Forza Horizon 3.

As an aside: If you get Forza Horizions 3 Ultimate edition for ONE HUNDRED AMERICAN MONEY-DOLLARS, you get to experience the rare privilege of pre-loading the game and playing four days before all those filthy scrubs with more brains than money. Except, people’s downloads keep getting reset, preventing them from downloading the game. It’s 49GB in size, so I imagine having it get 80% of the way done and then mysteriously reset is pretty horrible. I think a download that size would run me $10USD. That’s probably more a complaint about my internet provider than the Windows store, but it’s not like I’m the only person in the world with a horrible internet provider.

This is not a joke photoshop. This is literally what my internet provider shows when I review my account and usage info.
This is not a joke photoshop. This is literally what my internet provider shows when I review my account and usage info.

The point is, if you charge someone a huge markup for exclusive early access, then you better be able to deliver, because that’s not something you can fix later. So while this problem doesn’t impact me, I just want to point out that there’s more than one way for things to go wrong for you in the Windows 10 Store. Anyway, back to the task at hand…

I go to the Forza Apex page in the Windows 10 Store. Right away things are a little scary:

Happy Anniversary!

(Ominous music plays.)

(Ominous music plays.)

The game requires the “Windows Anniversary Update”. I don’t know what’s in it. I don’t even know what anniversary we’re supposedly celebrating. The release of the first version of Windows? The release of Windows 10? The birthday of Bill Gates’ dog? I suppose I could look it up, but I don’t care. Whatever this thing does, you can’t play (or even download!) the game without it.

Okay, I KNOW this is a stupid idea. I can’t remember the last time I updated Windows and found my life had been improved by it. 95% of all updates are all mysterious undocumented changes, and the last 5% break your workflow, cause problems, or otherwise waste your time. The only reason I’m doing this is because I know that if something goes wrong I’ll have something to write about. The fact that you’re reading this probably gives you a clue as to how things turned out.

Well, better to install this update now on a slow Tuesday afternoon rather than being ambushed by a surprise update when I’m up against a deadline. Let’s get to it.

I should add that the URL I circled isn’t a clickable link. If you wanted to visit that page you’d have to open up a browser and type it in manually. You might think you could route around Microsoft’s horrible interface shortcomings by highlighting the text so you can copy & paste it, but the saboteurs at Microsoft are way ahead of you. If you click anywhere in that part of the window, the text vanishes and is replaced with a scroll box containing the back-of-the-box sales pitch.

I download the update. Since this is the latest version of Windows, it has all the latest features. For example: Microsoft has removed all progress bars so that you never have any idea how long an update will take or even if the process is still working. It’s just got this twee little spinning icon of mystery. When can you have your computer back? Ten more seconds? Two hours? Is it downloading things in the background and eating up your bandwidth and data usage? Is it stuck? Makes you feel sorry for those poor sods in 1993 who had the ability to know what their computer was doing when things were being installed. We’ve come so far.

Not to spoil the surprise for you, but it takes about twenty minutes to apply the update. That’s kind of amazing. I’m running Windows 10 off an SSD. I think twenty minutes is how long it took to install Windows 10 in the first place. It’s actually really hard to keep an operating system busy for that long, particularly when it has exclusive access to all of the machine’s resources and everything is stored on an SSD.

Afterwards I install the game and everything is fine and of course I’m lying. Instead, I get this…

We’ve Upgraded Your Computer By Breaking It!

(Ominous music intensifies.)

(Ominous music intensifies.)

I’m no dummy. Well, okay, I voluntarily installed a Windows update so I’m clearly not a genius. But I was at least smart enough to make sure I met the minimum specifications before I installed the Windows Anniversary Update. Before I started, all of these points were green except for the first. But now that I have the update, it claims I no longer have enough memory and my graphics card isn’t up to snuff.

I actually have 16GB of memory, and it correctly identified it as such before the update. So one of the new features of the Anniversary update is that it throws away half your memory and downgrades your graphics card?

I don’t know. Let’s open up the system information screen and see what the reported memory is. I’ll just… Hm. They system is really sluggish now. It’s taking forever to open individual windows. In fact… yeah. The system is hosed. The mouse pointer moves, but literally every window is giving the “waiting” icon when I mouse over it. I can’t even properly shut down the system. Okay. Let’s reset any try again…

The system locks up even faster this time. Last time I got to use the machine for about three minutes before it died, but this time it was grinding to a halt after just thirty seconds. Reboot again.

This time I get fifteen seconds of useful activity before the machine petrifies itself. I can’t even open up the control panel to roll back the update.

My wife – who runs Linux, by the way – uses her non-crippled computer to search for some information for me. It turns out that a “limited number of users” have experienced my problem. I love this excuse because it’s literally impossible to disprove. Remember when a “small number of users” of the Xbox 360 were getting the Red Ring of Death?

INT. APPLEBEE'S RESTAURANT. DAY.

(A distraught woman enters, dressed in funeral black. She approaches the manager.)

WOMAN: I wish to complain about the food.

MANAGER: Is there a problem?

WOMAN: Yes. Two days ago my family ate here. My husband ordered the bone-in pork chop with honey apple chutney, and it implanted him with a chestbuster alien.

MANAGER: (Shocked.) What?

WOMAN: Yes, it burst out of his chest while we were getting ready for bed. Then the xenomorph ran off. Over the next 24 hours, it hunted down and devoured the rest of our family.

MANAGER: Ah yes. A small number of diners have reported this problem. We're working on finding...

(Screams come from the kitchen. We can hear CRASHING KITCHENWARE and cooks yelling "Grab it! It's over there!" in confusion.)

MANAGER: (Once the noise has died down.) We're working on a solution to the problem. At any rate, please remember this only impacts a small number of people.

WOMAN: Well, I guess it's okay if it's only a few people. My husband probably just ate it wrong or something.

MANAGER: Here, take this coupon for a free appetizer with the purchase of any entree.

WOMAN: Thank you.

Yes, I totally admit this story is preposterous and the comparison is unfair. For one thing, Microsoft isn’t going to give me any coupons when this is over.

Microsoft claims the problem is caused by people who install Windows to an SSD but put their user data on a regular hard drive. Aside from the fact that this problem makes No Damn Sense, it isn’t the case with me. I installed Windows 10 like a good little drone, leaving all the system defaults right where Momma MS told me to. My user data is on the SSD along with the OS. However, I did try to install the game to a hard drive, because I don’t have FIFTY GIGABYTES of free space on the SSD to burn on a single videogame. I put Forza on my gaming drive with Steam et al.

You might think I could reboot in safe mode to roll back the update. But to get into safe mode you have to press a hotkey during just the right point of the boot process, and when you boot from an SSD that window of opportunity is approximately zero seconds long. I try HOLDING down the key but that doesn’t work. It must be pressed during this impossibly brief, totally undetectable moment in time.

But! This is not the first time I’ve ever had this problem. I know that the ACTUAL way to get into safe mode is to let the machine boot just far enough to reach the Windows splash screen and then hit the reset button. This tiny spark of user agency is surely an oversight and will no doubt be patched out, without warning or explanation, in some future update.

I roll back the Windows Anniversary Update. I’m now an hour and a half deep into the process of trying to get a free game from the Microsoft store. I know Microsoft claimed that the Windows 10 upgrade is “free”, but I value my time somewhere above zero so that’s not really true.

I get the machine back to the pre-anniversary state. It works again, although my attempts at playing a racing game have been thoroughly thwarted. I note that there are zero Forza titles on Steam, not even older ones. So even with platform exclusivity and a price tag of zero, Windows 10 Store still couldn’t seal the deal.

I’d say that’s end of the matter, but it isn’t. Even though I rolled back the update, my machine is still only using half the available memory now. See:

Where did the memory go? Poof! It`s gone! Mystery!

Where did the memory go? Poof! It`s gone! Mystery!

It wasn’t like that before. Re-installing my graphics drivers seems to “kinda” fix this. The Windows 10 Store still claims I’ve only got 8GB of memory, but my system information screen reports 13GB. I am content to move on and not get involved in the disagreement between these two idiotic pieces of broken software.

GFWL set the bar pretty high in terms of outrageous and infuriating failures, but Microsoft is off to a strong start with the Windows 10 Store. Back in 2010 GFWL tried to give away a videogame. That exchange devoured my time without delivering a videogame, but in the end my machine was unharmed. The Windows 10 Store has taken Microsoft’s assult on user experience to the next level. Not only did I not get a videogame after a couple of hours of messing around, but the attempt crippled my PC.

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From the Archives:

  1. Da Mage says:

    Why….can’t….they…..get…this…..right!

    Is it really that hard to make a games delivery platform that works? I mean, Ubisoft, Valve, GoG and EA have all managed it to different degrees….but MS is now 0/2 attempts.

    I look forward to ignoring “windows 10 exclusive” games for many years to come, my windows 7 PC is running fine and that’s how I like it.

    • Tizzy says:

      Maybe it’s because upper management has utter contempt for the customer? I don’t know for sure, but I’m struggling to find an alternative explanation that would account for the whole mess.

      • Raygereio says:

        I suspect part of the problem is that Microsoft is trying to convince publishers & developers to sell their product through Microsoft’s store, which tends to run directly counter to the thing that Microsoft ought to be doing: Convincing potential customers from entering & using their store.

        But yeah: At this point Microsoft does appear to be the clueless store owner who wonders why so many people avoid his store, as he swings his baseball bat at the nutsack of the poor dolt from out of town who tried to enter his store.

        Fun unrelated fact: Chrome’s spellcheck thinks “nutsack” should be “nutcracker”.

        • MrGuy says:

          I suspect part of the problem is that Microsoft is trying to convince publishers & developers to sell their product through Microsoft’s store, which tends to run directly counter to the thing that Microsoft ought to be doing: Convincing potential customers from entering & using their store.

          This is tough chicken/egg problem. You won’t have customers come if you have nothing to sell. You won’t convince vendors to do work to support your store if you have no one buying.

          I don’t think Microsoft’s approach is conceptually bad here – they’re focusing FIRST on have a strong catalog available so there will be a compelling reason for customers to use it. That’s an approach with a good track record of success – Netflix, Amazon Video, Steam, the iOS app store, all started by focusing much more on getting publishers to agree to use the distribution platform before they focused on building a huge customer base.

          That’s not to say they launched “fully formed” – I seem to recall Steam launching originally just to support CounterStrike. But they didn’t go out and yell “come look at my awesome store” to the masses until they’d stocked the shelves (including, importantly, having a significant number of 3rd-party titles).

          • swenson says:

            Half-Life 2, not Counterstrike, and there was indeed a great deal of complaining about it at the time. (even our dear Shamus ranted about it)

            The difference, of course, is that Valve went on to make Steam a legitimately useful piece of software with lots of games that people wanted. But never let us forget how much people hated Steam when it first showed up.

            Amusing actual quote from 2006-era Shamus: “Now I hear there is an expansion coming and I just laugh. There is no way in hell I’m giving them another cent”

            Suuuure, Shamus. :D

      • EmmEnnEff says:

        The more likely and banal explanation, is that this issue was either not caught during testing, or was not reproducible when it was.

        Upper management probably never even heard of this issue… Until it started affecting users.

    • natureguy85 says:

      I haven’t had any real problems with Windows 10, though recently it doesn’t boot every time, but I do wish I’d taken that chance to undo the free upgrade from Windows 7. I just liked it better.

      • I went from 8 to 10, and had the opposite problem. 8 would boot one out of 5 tries, and I got to the point where I used every trick I could to prevent reboots at any cost, 10 boots every time.

        They both suck, but I’d say 10 sucks slightly less. Man, I’m with you on missing 7 though.

        • There’s a reason I paid an extra $60-70 explicitly to have Windows 7 installed on my pre-built laptop. :P

          • Benjamin Hilton says:

            Yeah, I had windows 7 on my PC. After continually telling it no it upgraded to 10 on it’s own. Not only did it fail to install, it also wiped Win 7 off my hard drive. I ended up going out and tracking down a CD version of windows 7. At this point win 10 could literally print money for me and I wouldn’t upgrade just on principle.

        • Jeff says:

          I upgraded my mom’s laptop from Win7 to Win10 this past weekend in an attempt to resolve network issues, and while it didn’t fix anything my mom has subsequently reported to me that the computer is much more responsive than before.

          I think Win10 is better than Win8 by a large margin, and is an acceptable incremental upgrade from Win7.

    • MadTinkerer says:

      It’s more like not zero but… negative attempts? Or something?

      Old Windows had Minesweeper, Hearts, Skifree, Space Cadet Pinball and a bunch of others. Some of those came on separate “entertainment packs” that required a CD drive, but you could be assured that they all traded state of the art graphics for the ability to run on literally any Windows machine of the time. Many of them were actually good, some were even great.

      Now you can’t even play the Solitaire that comes with Win10 without a subscription. But that’s okay: I actually have all my old Windows (98, XP, Vista, 7) machines and I’m not actually stupid enough to buy a computer with Windows 10 on it.

      Did you know that Spore is available on GoG now? You can buy a version of Spore that now has less DRM than Windows 10 Solitaire. Inevitably, the day will come when you will still be able to play Spore, but not Windows 10 Solitaire.

    • Zak McKracken says:

      That strategy is called “achieve vendor lock-in”, and it worked just fine when there weren’t any decent alternatives out there: You dangle the carrot, and once they bite, they are your customers forever. No need to be nice to them.

      The only thing Windows needs to achieve is to convince a majority of people to use it. Once that’s done, it only needs to be not catastrophically worse then the technically best choice, while being non-interoperable with anything else: If you already are king of the hill, the best strategy is to prevent people from leaving by any means, which may or may not involve them feeling good. And if you want to get people to use the Windows 10 store, all you need is to make it mandatory for anything that uses the shiny new W10- features, because watcha gonna do if all the fancy games and all your friends are on W10?

  2. Fists says:

    Yay Microsoft! It’s a bummer because I would rather like to play Horizon* 3 but don’t feel like wasting an indeterminate quantity of my data just now. At least my windows install hasn’t broken in the last three weeks.

    *Note Shamus, singular non-possessive.

      • Fists says:

        I normally wouldn’t have picked on that but you don’t want to sound like the old man talking about pokemans when complaining your computer doesn’t work, might undermine your point.

        Probably also worth you noting that Forza Motorsport and Horizon are very different games so your enjoyment of one wont really be directly related to the other. It’s like Gran Turismo vs Need for Speed Underground, the Forzas just share an engine and branding.

  3. Raion says:

    I tried downloading Apex a while back fully conscious that I didn’t meet the minimum system RAM requirements, but that didn’t stop me: with some page file trickery and patience you can get newer games running on potatoes, that is, if you get them from anywhere else but the Microsoft store, which downloaded the whole of it before refusing to even try and open it when I launched it, lamenting the lack of system RAM. But… you knew that already. Why even let me download it if you weren’t gonna let me try it anyway?

    I received the anniversary update just as with any other update: a nice surprise when at the end of the day I decide to turn in, only for the pc to start updating instead of shutting down.
    The next morning I expected to have to wait a couple of minutes for the update to finish installing, instead it updated, and power cycled, and updated again, and power cycled, and updated still. Until it stopped at around 80% and just hung there. Pressing the power button would hibernate the process, at least, so I could turn off the pc before leaving for work, but when I came back I still had this useless pc hanging there, seemingly doing nothing. Until I had enough of waiting and decided to cut the power and do a system restore. Only… cutting power requires holding the button longer than the time it took the updater to register the button press and hibernate. Brilliant.
    Eventually I got the system restored to a previous point, but only in concept: now the pc is sluggish and laggy as hell and inspecting the task manager reveals that the system drive is being used at 100% constantly. The culprit ended up being superfetch, I think, because I seem to have fixed it by disabling it, then again, the pc still has these weird moments of sluggishness that come and go, and booting takes dramatically longer, so that’s basically grounds for restoring a fresh install image.
    Thanks anniversary.

    • Fists says:

      MS heard that Linux was getting more popular so they wanted to try and copy some of the Linux experience while developing 10. After some googling they came to the conclusion that frequently formatting your drive and reinstalling the OS because of some completely ineffable bugcrashconflict was quintessential to the Linux experience and they should start from there.

    • Bropocalypse says:

      Hell, I had this issue with a laptop that came pre-packaged with 10. I couldn’t figure out for th life of me why an operating system sitting idle needed to constantly use over 70% of my CPU’s capacity. So I upgraded it to windows 7 instead just to save power.

  4. DosFreak says:

    You shouldn’t be playing games from the Windows Store anyway. It gives Microsoft the wrong idea.

    Also, http://www.dsogaming.com/news/halo-5-forge-and-forza-horizon-3-are-the-first-games-encrypted-with-microsofts-new-secure-encrypted-appx-format/

    This is on top of the DRM that may be inside of the game itself.

    I’m no Steam shill. “Buy” aka rent “your” games from wherever you want. Just not the Windows Store.

    • Echo Tango says:

      GOG gives you your games DRM-free! I actually prefer this to boxed optical disks, because hard drives are usually a lot smaller physically, and let me hold all of my games, not just one per disk. :)

    • Fists says:

      But Horizon is really fun, and this is actually a move back from xbox exclusives not being on pc which is sort of an improvement… maybe?

      • Mokap says:

        At this point, I’m certain Microsoft really don’t want their games on PC and are going to use the fact that everyone hates their service as an excuse to stop doing it.

      • Squirly says:

        That’s probably the only reason they brought it to PC – so they can make it Windows 10 Store exclusive. They’re holding it hostage and even that doesn’t work because the store doesn’t frigging work.

    • Yurika Grant says:

      Seriously, screw that crap. It’ll kill modding games (which is utterly necessary to get some of them working as they should on PC, basic shit like 60fps especially) which hook into running program executables. And sorry, MS, but your awfulsauce store and games ain’t worth not having the ability to fix them to run how they should on a PC.

      • Alexander The 1st says:

        60 fps is what you call basic?

        There’s a reason consoles that get much more basic stuff than that have been doing well, and only recently got fears of people ditching to PC with the newest gens.

        Basics are more “Actually launches, can be played.”

        EDIT: Though to be fair, that is *also* sometimes requiring a mod as well.

        • kdansky says:

          We had stable 60 (or sometimes 50 because PAL) FPS over thirty years ago in console land.

          Super Mario Bros (1985) ran at 60.

          As for more modern consoles: Most PS2 / N64 and Gamecube titles run at a solid 60. It’s only since the PS3-era that console games regressed to running at 30.

          • PRMan says:

            Atari 2600 was 60 frames too. You had to race the beam across the screen. If you were good you might get 15-20 instructions per line.

            But, in newer games’ defense, Forza is doing a lot more in those 60 frames than an Atari or Nintendo game.

  5. Duoae says:

    Updating a pc after a fresh install is such a chore! Apart from the fact there’s no cumulative patch (at least I couldn’t find one) so your pc ends up updating for literally a week or two after the install, you can’t really control how or when it downloads and installs updates other than windows letting you know by passive aggressively prompting you to “restart” and install the updates.

    On that note, you used to be able to cancel that updater prompt and just install updates at shutdown from the start menu but that doesn’t seem to be an option anymore and you have to wait for the prompt to appear again. … what’s with that?

    It”s all so uncontrollable!

    • 4th Dimension says:

      What? Even using Windows 7 it takes basically two days top to cycle through updates enough. You do need to babysit it by forcig it to check for updates every time it finishes updating so it can see the ones that weren’t supported before.

      Even in Win10 you still have access to the Update window, ableit now it’s difficult to stop the windows from updating. But you can force it to check for updates after which it will I think automatically try to update.

      • MrGuy says:

        The difference is with the update model.

        In Windows 7, you could roll back a specific update that was known to cause problems, but accept the others. Sure, it was a major PITA to find and roll back a single cryptically named update, but Google is usually your friend on figuring out which one is the issue, and walking you through how to disable it.

        The Windows 10 model, on the other hand, doesn’t separate out the individual updates like that. If there was a bad patch that borked your video card support released on August 1st, you can either deal with it, or refuse to get all patches released since August 1st. But there’s no clean way to ONLY disable the video driver update – it’s all or nothing. Which means (for example) you can’t update critical system security patches right now and wait on the video update until they fixed it. It’s all or nothing – you don’t even have the option to turn part of the “cumulative update” off.

        Of course, Microsoft has decided they like the Windows 10 approach better, so they’re retrofitting it onto Windows 8 and 7 retroactively.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          That is a pain, but the OP was complaining about the speed of updating and lack of access to the update screen, which is not that big of a case.

        • silver Harloe says:

          They probably wrote an update that required a previous update, and the debate between “create a dependency model for updates” and “just force install them all” was settled when the manager asked “which is easier?”

      • Duoae says:

        Maybe I was doing something wrong but I couldn’t force windows update to download anything. It would just sit “checking for updates” indefinitely.

        I also couldn’t selectively install stuff – despite choosing the “only install updates I okay” option.

        My OS is win7.

        • 4th Dimension says:

          There were bugs with the Checking for updates of Windows Update for Windows 7 that caused it to take inordinate time and resources while performing checking for updates. If you search online you might find couple of optional updates that fix that issue. Thoug be advised that you should check the post date since it was a problem that took a while to solve and there were new updates that “solved” the problem every couple of months. The last one from august? of this year did work for me.

          And if you do download the update and try updating, do disable the Windows Service first to prevent it getting stuck into the checking for updates loop before applying your update.

          I might drop the actually update codes here in about 15h when I am at work and are able to check exactly which updates I used.

          • Duoae says:

            Thanks for the info! I don’t plan on reinstalling my desktop for a while. It was 5 years since the last install so will probably be good barring some malware infestation but I only use that pc for recording and some light gaming due to it being so old.

            Just out of curiosity , are MS still good about mobo changes regarding windows licenses? Two of my ram slots are fried (somehow! ) and being stuck with 4GB ram is pretty painful…

            Next install will be a win 10 next year on a new desktop.

          • 4th Dimension says:

            All of these require SP1 so you should download and install that first.
            Install the perquisite kb3020369 then install kb3172605
            Also KB3050265 can help with Windows update clogging systems with small memory (2GB) where WU might decide to claim all of it in the process of checking for updates.

            http://www.infoworld.com/article/3099109/microsoft-windows/microsoft-yanks-buggy-speed-up-patch-kb-3161608-replaces-it-with-kb-3172605-and-3172614.html

            • SPCTRE says:

              RE: Windows 7 updates, I have to set up fresh installs for work semi-regularly, and since 2015-ish, I’ve found the only thing that works reasonably well to get them up to speed is not using the onboard updater at all.

              There are effective third-party made “SP2” update packages (at this point they’re at >2GB worth of updates) that will take care of listing the IDs of missing ones and installing them, they can even handle reboots/temporary UAC changes, power settings etc. for you.

              • Duoae says:

                Do you have a link to these third party sp2 makers – also how reliable/trustworthy are they?

                You hear about trusted repositories bring hacked and loaded with malware with worrying frequency over the last few years.

            • Duoae says:

              Thanks. My win 7 disc is sp1 inclusive so that may or may not cause problems depending on how static “sp1” from Ms download is (ie did they sneakily fix something).

              I’ll take a look at that link when I get home.

  6. Zekiel says:

    I love these sorts of articles. Thanks Shamus.

    I’m enjoying still using WIndows 7 with no problems. Not looking forward to when I have to replace my aged PC soon and presumably have no option apart from Windows 10. (Yeah, I know I have options, but I’m not clever enough to use Linux)

    • Echo Tango says:

      Try Ubuntu, Xubuntu, or even Lubuntu.* (The latter two are made for slower computers.) There’s really not a lot of cleverness needed. Like, you have to Google for a couple minutes to find the checkmark that enables the correct graphics drivers**, but that’s really about it.

      * You’ll also need to put it onto a USB stick if you don’t want it on an installer CD. This one is the best one, I think, but I recently clicked the wrong link and used this one instead. They’re both easy to use. Also note, I haven’t used Lubuntu in a while, since I liked the graphics of Xubuntu better. They’re functionally almost identical.

      ** By default, they disable the drivers straight from Nvidia (and probably AMD too?), because they’re binary files, and thus can’t be vetted the way open-source drivers can. I’ve never had a problem with the binary blobs from Nvidia, and it’s just as binary if you’re used to Windows, so I don’t think it’s a big deal. I think the default when you install is now checkmarked to enable the binary drivers, but I can’t remember.

      • Echo Tango says:

        Also, it’s worth noting that if you have a linux-USB stick, you can try it out first, without permanently installing linux, or changing anything on your computer. It just runs from the USB stick and RAM, instead of installing anything to your hard drive.

      • John says:

        Lubuntu is pretty darned good at doing what it is advertised to do, which is run on very low-powered systems. The entire point of Lubuntu is that is extremely resource-light. This approach unfortunately has certain drawbacks. These drawbacks include: (a) fewer hardware configurations supported out-of-the-box than other versions of Ubuntu, (b) default applications like AbiWord and Gnumeric that are really not very good, and (c) a certain non-robustness with respect to major Ubuntu updates.

        If you are new to Lubuntu–and particularly if you are new to Linux as I was when I jumped into this rabbit hole–then my advice is as follows. Always use the Long-Term Support version. Never let the update manager talk you into updating to a new version of Ubuntu. If you want to upgrade, always do a clean Lubuntu install. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Remember, Lubuntu is lightweight. A clean install shouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours tops, and that’s assuming you had to dig around on the net for drivers.

  7. tmtvl says:

    My wife – who runs Linux, by the way – uses her non-crippled computer to search for some information for me.

    You flatterer, you’re only saying that because it’s true.

    Well, it sucks now, but just wait until they release Windows 12, which will fix all problems ever. No, really. Would Microsoft ever lie?

  8. GloatingSwine says:

    I don’t understand why we have the same branding used on two different series with different numbers. I don’t know enough about the racing genre to understand the complex lineages at work here, but who cares?

    Forza 6 is the srs bsns track racing version, Horizon is the openworldy arcade-em-up version.

    (Also am I the only human who doesn’t have problems with windows updates? I just install them and they work? Is this not how it is supposed to be?)

    • 4th Dimension says:

      Me too. I do get times when WinUpdate refuses to install some update, usually a .NET update, but I think only once or twice did an update break my computer. What does annoy me is that especially in Win10 it can get into it’s head that NOW (when I need good internet access) is the PERFECT time to start downloading hundreds of MB of updates.

    • KarmaTheAlligator says:

      Well, updates must work fine for *some* people, otherwise MS would change the way they work. I’ve personally had more problems than not from Windows updates.

    • vrittis says:

      Guys!
      We found him!
      * Microsoft swat teams crashes through windows *
      * carefully wraps your computer in a plastic film marked “Anomalous materials” *
      * flees in black choppers *

    • Ranneko says:

      Same, rarely had a problem caused by updating windows. Seen far more problems result from people not updating windows and then running into an exploit that has previously been patched.

      Generally when I encounter problems in my system the best approach is to try to find new drivers to see if they address whatever strangeness has occurred.

      That said one of the least helpful responses to a problem is “It didn’t happen for me”. In the interest of avoiding doing that, it sounds like something in the install or safe mode messed with your config Shamus. Apparently you can set a maximum usable memory in msconfig.

      May be worth trying:
      1. Open msconfig
      2. Click the Boot tab
      3. Select your boot OS
      4. Click Advanced Options
      5. Uncheck Maxmimum Memory (assuming it is checked)
      6. Click OK, Apply and restart.

    • King Marth says:

      People don’t bother writing long articles about how their computer worked as expected. To be fair, they’re a lot less amusing.

    • Peter H. Coffin says:

      Nope, you’re not the only one. I salivate for updates. My machine checks for them DAILY at 1:05 AM and installs them automatically. The auto-reboot thingy has been REALLY GOOD about asking me “hey, you there? I need to reboot RSN to finish this” if I happen to be actually using the machine when they come along. And since Windows Defender is my primary anti-malware these days (because it’s actually Good Enough now), there’s ALWAYS at least one definition update to install, every single day. Those don’t need reboots, but it’s definitely hinting to me that “Oh, I’ll update it next month” that daily checks aren’t too much.

      That said, every single one of the updates has been smooth. Window 10 initial install hiccuped once but recovered on its own, and the Anniversary Update went smoothly as well. And I’m pretty much in exactly the same space as Shamus with regard to storage setup. SSD, user data on it, Steam and other games installing to a spinning drive D:\, etc. The only real difference is that I’ve got a crappier video card that won’t even meet the Forza specs.

  9. Fizban says:

    When I got my new computer this year, with windows 7 because even if I had install discs for vista somewhere I needed a 32 bit OS, I was worried about the forced windows 10 upgrades. I did a bunch of reading, I used GWX control panel to nuke the offending programs, and I updated to current while carefully avoiding those that added more forced “upgrade” bs and disabled updating completely.

    I have worried on occasion if I should go and do some updating, but then I read “windows update bricks Asus motherboards,” and think maybe not. And now they’ve got an update that manages to make your computer forget its RAM?

  10. MrGuy says:

    To be remotely fair to the Windows 10 Store, it sounds like your real issue here is with a.) the Windows 10 Anniversary Update and b.) the game having system requirements that absolutely, positively must have that update in place to be played (Really? Your AAA game title is SO cutting edge that the mere “latest and greatest version of Windows” is INSUFFICIENT to run it? You’ve released a game that will not only only run on less than 23 percent of all computers, but will run on only a fraction of THOSE machines?)

    Neither of these is the direct fault of the Windows 10 Store, unless the Windows 10 Store is lying about the dependency on the Anniversary update and this is Microsoft using every trick in the book to market to you, including blatant lies. That’s….certainly possible, but not in evidence.

    Your real beef here (at least so far) is with Microsoft pushing out a Windows update that doesn’t work. That’s a “Microsoft as an OS vendor” gripe, not a “Microsoft as a game merchant” gripe.

    The GFWL store, on the other hand, had a ton of issues specific to the process of selling and delivering videogames that was stupid and dumb. It’s possible W10S is a pleasant and enjoyable game purchasing experience. It’s also possible W10S has the same (or different)(or even worse) stupid and dumb issues as GFWL, and you just haven’t gotten to them yet. In which case, bravo, Microsoft – your incompetence may have concealed your stupidity until another day.

    Update: According to the game publisher’s website, the game requires Win 10 version 1511. According to Wikipedia, 1511 is the November 2015 update – the Anniversary update is version 1607, and was released in August. So, the Windows 10 Store apparently IS lying to you. Objection withdrawn, I guess.

    • MichaelGC says:

      The Anniversary Update included things like the ability to disable V-sync. So, if that’s the kind of basic thing it’s bringing to the table you can see why a developer might want to make it mandatory!

      • Mephane says:

        The mind boggles at the requirement of the latest OS update for such a basic, long-established feature such as toggling VSync on/off.

        Like, it’s none of Microsoft’s business even. NVidia/ATI deliver the drivers, the game delivers some UI to toggle it specifically for their game (or not, in which case said drivers allow you to do it anyway). What kind of intrusive BS is that that MS has any influence over whether you can toggle VSync?

  11. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Soooo… I’m one of the few people who had a relatively positive, or at least professionally cordial, experience with Win10 (though I did not touch the store nor do I intend to). Even the dreaded update to 10 spam was benign, it popped in a window at some point, I told it I’d think about it and then it politely stayed in my tray as a small icon reminding me it was an option through a small text bubble every couple of days on turning on the PC but that was it if I remember correctly (admittedly, while not an “early adopter”, I did not wait until the final days of the upgrade period when I hear it got viciously aggressive or autoupdated out of the blue ignoring the user’s pleas for mercy). The upgrade itself went smoothly and after I went through the features disabling some bells and whistles and as much snooping as I could reach (again admittedly I called on a couple of guides to explain the features in detail and help me track the problematic ones… which is something that no user should have to do and covering those in a labyrinthine interface is definitely a sin) we reached a working relationship.

    And then last night it apparently decided it’s time to go through the “scorpion through the river” routine. It first assaulted me with spam of the “crucial” update to anniversary, then after several attempts to dismiss it (I tend to let the updates, especially the bigger ones, sit out a little while to see if the net warns me they break stuff) went and started the upgrade process literally when I wasn’t looking AND when it upgraded it broke things. Now a number of applications seem to randomly freeze, shut down the graphics or crash a minute or two after I alt+tab from them (and only then), the closest I got to tracing it down was one game claiming that I “might have physically disconnected my gfx card”…

    • deiseach says:

      I’ve never had any trouble with Windows updates either, and I have owned Windows Me. Now I’m scared. You can run but you can’t hide!

      • Daemian Lucifer says:

        I’ve never had any trouble with Windows updates either, and I have owned Windows Me.

        So you are saying that you are an imaginary person?

        • John says:

          I’m telling you, man, Windows ME was real! I saw it with my own eyes! It came pre-installed on the mid-tower desktop my wife bought from Dell.

          She built her next rig herself. That was probably not a coincidence.

          • Daemian Lucifer says:

            Oh it definitely was real,I know,Ive used it for some time.But I simply cannot believe that anyone ever actually used it without a problem.

            • I’m with you on that. My dorm neighbor in college had ME and she spent so much time in my room using my non-ME-Running and therefore working computer that she paid me rent (mostly because my computer was also my TV and stereo). On the plus side my grades improved that semester!

            • 4th Dimension says:

              Then I must be that unimaginable charmed person. My first computer (a lowly Pentium III: 886) came with Windows Me and I used it all the way until I changed computers and got one with Windows XP. Apart from the glitch where from time to time the graphics for the Start button and close maximize and minimize buttons would be replaced with black and white pattern I don’t remember having much trouble with it.

            • deiseach says:

              It’s not that I have had no problems. Lordy, have I had problems. I’ve just never had any problems with updates. The certainty with which Shamus predicts disaster every time he updates Windows doesn’t chime with me. In truth, I just mentioned ME for the lulz because updates were not a thing in those dial-up days. And while struggling to sign into my Xbox One account last night, I thought that karma was one serious mutha…

  12. Rodyle says:

    I’m one of those people most system admins probably hate: I never install updates, for pretty much the reason described in this article. The last time I updated my GPU drivers I had PSODs until I uncoupled the GPU (windows on SSD, so I couldn’t get the timing for safe mode either) and uninstalled the driver.

    Or stuff like this: I needed a .NET upgrade to get a mod-organiser for KSP to work. I installed the framework and it broke a host of other games. It took me a long time to figure out that happened because .NET likes to keep all version you ever installed, which apparently caused weird interactions. Or that time I had to update the drivers for my WiFi card and it decided to install a TP-Link utility tool as well. In itself not that bad, but for some demented reason, that tool pinged the computer every 30 seconds or so, taking me out of my game to the desktop.

  13. Matt Downie says:

    My current reason to be annoyed at Microsoft is the Windows 10 ‘active hours’ setting. “When a restart is necessary, we won’t automatically restart your device during active hours.” I can specify up to 12 hours a day during which my machine won’t try to shut itself down against my will.

    Look, Microsoft, either I’m using my computer and have lots of windows open, or I’ve got it switched off – probably hibernated from a state with lots of windows open. Unless I routinely leave my computer switched on, with nothing open, doing nothing at all, there is no good time to automatically restart.

    • Ranneko says:

      Then wouldn’t you set the inactive hours to the hours you normally have your computer asleep and then actually shut it down when it notifies you updates are ready?

    • GloatingSwine says:

      Orrr you could manually restart when you know you won’t need the machine for a couple of minutes.

      You should restart windows 8+ every couple of days anyway because otherwise Fast Startup causes all sorts of cruft to build up.

      • Matt Downie says:

        I only mildly resent having to restart when they tell me I need to restart; there are no times during the day when it’s OK for them to “automatically restart” my PC.

      • Jsor says:

        The problem is some people like me have to do really long compute jobs. I do research that sometimes requires days or even a week of computation time, and sometimes the cluster I have access to is unsuitable for various reasons.

        Proofing your long computation against crashes by storing intermediate state to disk is good practice anyway, so it’s not the worst problem if it restarts (other than the computation I lose needing to manually restart the job after I wake up or get back home), but it’s kind of bad that Windows will arbitrarily decide “I really don’t care how important this computation/upload/whatever is, we’re installing updates because you weren’t around to babysit the restart dialogue.”

        Even Windows 10 Pro’s “defer updates” thing doesn’t help. That doesn’t actually let you refuse updates, it instead just makes it so Windows doesn’t install the updates until some unspecified time a month or two later, at which point it acts the same as it always does. Which is effectively the same thing as having it off.

    • smileyninja says:

      I have the opposite problem. If I don’t turn my windows 10 computer on all day, it will turn itself on all by itself around 9pm. I’ve searched everywhere for the setting that controls this but had no luck.

      • LCF says:

        Do you think you could get a multi-socket adaptator with a switch, so you decide when your computer has power to turn on?
        It’s a stop-gap measure and requires one more button press, but it may help.

  14. el_b says:

    some of my gfwl games still dont work right. gears wont save at all cause it cant log in. thankfully take 2 let me reactivate my disk based bioshock 2 on steam without it.
    got win 10 cause i figured it had been out long enough to fix its bugs, im having compatability issues with almst everything i put on. every new thing i try to use causes more problems its been a complete bastard. i had to trick fallout 3 into thinking my computer was worse than it was to run and now i cant use enb mods. not that they work right on anything now.

  15. Cybron says:

    a “limited number of users” have experienced my problem.

    “Every user of Windows 10” still qualifies as a limited number of users.

  16. PatPatrick says:

    Thanks, Shamus, brilliant and hilarious as always. I glad, that we have someone, who not afraid to share his honest negative opinions without telling the ten thousand “sorry” before it.

    p.s. It pretty scares me when I think about dozens of plans, hundreds of presentations, thousands of meetings, scores of iterations, about all these experts, analytics, CEO, risk managers, team leads, testers, about all these people with incalculable years of education, trainings, team buildings, and sweet salaries, who still can’t make satisfactory product instead of this poor bitter-ass W10 store.

  17. Incunbulum says:

    I replaced my mobo not too long ago and even though I deactivated my W10 key it won’t let me re-register the key. So my W10 is ‘not activated’ and I have an annoying overlay at the bottom right corner of my screen in Windows and most programs. I could probably fix it by calling support but haven’t felt like bothering with that.

    But its caused the ‘anniversary update’ to fail – repeatedly.

    So I think I’ll leave it for a while longer.

    And – technical help – can someone point me to how to have Windows have the Library folders (MyDocuments, Pictures, etc) on a different drive than the install. I’ve got W10 on an SSD (a small one with a larger one that I store the apps I’m actually using) but couldn’t figure out how to have those folders on the HDD (left over from my last computer – its where I want all my media and anything else that I don’t need blazing fast access to)?

  18. Jerome says:

    I had the same issues when I installed windows 10, windows were not responding even task manager or control panel. Applications were also unresponsive, like I literally started Chrome and the window opened an hour later.

    After much searching on the internet I found that a lot of users had the same issues but no solutions were provided. I was starting to see if I could rollback to my previous windows version, but thought that maybe all of these issues could be related to my antivirus (I am using AVG). After downloading and installing the Windows 10 version of AVG my system started working normal again.

    Maybe the issues you are having is because of your antivirus, might be worth checking it out.

  19. Manticore says:

    I love that “explanation” by Microsoft since it’s a blatant lie. I install my Windows to my SSD and store my data on my HD (since that’s smart) and I had absolutely no issues. So no, that’s not the cause. O.o

    • Sven says:

      What they’re specifically talking about there is people who had C:\Users redirected to another drive. Something which you can really only do through an unattend.xml file during installation, and is technically unsupported.

      Installing a full upgrade like the Anniversary Update isn’t just updating your OS, it actually replaces your OS. It literally installs a new version of Windows 10 and then migrates all your state over. It’s that migration process that doesn’t work correctly if your Users folder is not in the default place.

      If you just install some applications on another drive, or redirected your Documents folders, you wouldn’t have this problem (which doesn’t seem like it was really the problem Shamus was having in the first place).

      • WJS says:

        Not that that makes any sense either. The Users folder being on a different partition shouldn’t make any difference to the OS, if you have even basic filesystem transparency going on. I guess Microsoft doesn’t.

  20. Rich says:

    Makes you feel sorry for those poor sods in 1993 who had the ability to know what their computer was doing when things were being installed.

    Actually, no. Even then you had no idea what was happening. The progress bar is just as much BS as a spinning bunch of dots or anything else. There is actually no correlation between system activity and what is shown. It’s just there to make you think so.

  21. Willroar says:

    Could this be a RAM issue? On top of OS issues because I’m not here to defend Windows.

    If your rolled-backed version is still misreporting your RAM, it might be test and repair/replace time.

    I’m assuming with your years on the digital frontier have taught you how infuriating, difficult to detect, and obtusely crippling RAM errors can get.

    • Matt Downie says:

      I recently had the situation that I had recently installed a new graphics card, and then I installed Windows Anniversary, and then my computer started crashing all the time. It could run fairly reliably in Windows Vista, but not Windows 10.

      I reinstalled Windows 10 completely, and it kept on happening. I went back to my old graphics card and it kept on happening.
      So that implied a weird hardware problems that randomly coincided with the Windows update – so now do I replace my CPU? My RAM? My power supply? My motherboard?

      The cause appears to have been: I had sawed through some metal hard-drive casing to get my new GTX 1070 to fit inside my PC. A tiny shaving of metal lodged itself under the edge of my CPU chip, causing something to occasionally short-circuit (maybe?). I only discovered this after buying a new CPU, which didn’t actually work, but taking the old one out and putting it back was all that was required.

      Diagnosing computer problems: not easy.

  22. You want to install a windows update, well that’s fantastic! I really smart decision young man! Now we’re just going to apply the update to your functioning computer aaaand it’s gone.

  23. Jabrwock says:

    I’m glad I haven’t applied the Anniversary update yet. Yikes!

  24. Black Fawn says:

    Wow, I have a post on my blog from last week that is almost identical to this (I’d link but it’s all in Foreign Language). I even had a faux-play in it.

    The big difference was that the game was ReCore, so Microsoft actually lost out on my money because of their bullshit. Also I got lucky and the update just froze halfway through and got reverted, so it couldn’t break my PC.

    • Matt K says:

      Apparently ReCore would not even show up in the Windows Store without the update (at least at launch) so I imagine a lot of people decided it wasn’t worth the hassle.

  25. Epopisces says:

    The strangest part about the RAM/GPU requirements are that my 2010 laptop has 8GB RAM and a 1GB GPU, and runs Windows 10 without issue*.

    *Unless I forget to close Chrome when I also have Skype and League of Legends open. At a certain point Windows decides it has run out of memory and thoughtfully (and automatically, without user input) closes League of Legends in the middle of the match I am desperately trying to win. Then it pops up a dialog saying ‘you were running out of memory. We fixed the issue by closing a program. You’re welcome!’.

    • Richard says:

      Wow. That’s even worse than the Windows 7 bug that I repeatedly run into.

      “This game was using a lot of graphics memory so I closed it to show you this dialog box asking if you’d like to put Windows into Basic mode. It doesn’t matter that you actually have almost 75% of your graphics memory free.”

      And the “Shut up, go away and never, ever ask me this again” button doesn’t work. Same question next time I run the game…

    • Sven says:

      To be fair, when Windows runs into that situation it’s a choice between two things:
      1. Close something to free up memory.
      2. Bugcheck (blue screen) the machine.

      • WJS says:

        And the reason it closes the game you’re playing rather than one of the programs in the background would be…?
        Windows should know perfectly well which program is in the foreground.

  26. Retsam says:

    I can’t remember the last time I updated Windows and found my life had been improved by it.

    Somewhat ironically, for me the Anniversary Update is my favorite update to an operating system ever: it added a real Linux BASH terminal, which means that doing development is no longer gimped on Windows. I can now use the vast majority of bash commands that I’ve gotten used to, I don’t need a separate shell for git, codebases that expect shell scripts to work will work.

    I’m not really disagreeing that OS Updates in general, (and Windows Updates in particular) are often a pain, but I really liked this one.

    • Jeff says:

      I like the Windows Anniversary Update for a far more shallow reason – an actual official Dark Mode, even if it doesn’t do it for everything. The glaring brightness by default was way too much for me, I actually manually grabbed the update since the “check for updates” button wouldn’t do it.

  27. Adrian Burt says:

    Hi Shamus, let’s take a short journey through the confusing and arbitrary world of video game brands.

    Forza is the brand for the Microsoft exclusive racing sims that use real-world cars and race tracks in an attempt to compete with Sony’s Gran Tourismo series. Forza is not to be confused with Burnout, which replaces simulated realism with fun.

    Forza Motorsport is the main racing sim series that started all the way back on the 360. There are now six because why not? Gameplay wise it’s similar to Gran Tourismo and the differences between the two series are so minor that they exist only as fuel for fanboys to flame the fires of the Console Wars. Forza Horizon is the open-world series because everythings needs to be open world these days.

    • tmtvl says:

      How ’bout Ridge Racer (if it still exists), where does that fit in the greater racing game universe?

    • Sleepy the Bear says:

      I would say a car game begs to be open world. I loved driving around open world Colorado in Horizon. Horizon would be much closer to scratching the Top Gear itch than the main series, as it does love stunt races, and you get to juxtapose supercars with windy roads, sunsets etc. Forza Motorsport always felt confined by being stuck on race-tracks. I think Horizon also has a shorter runup to high powered cars than the earlier games.
      Its a pity that Forza Horizon 1 or 2 aren’t available on PC – presumably there will be an HD remasters/ports at some point. And while I love the game, I doubt it is “go-to-the-effort-of-buying-second-hand-Xbox-360-and-copy-of-Horizon” good.

  28. Mr Compassionate says:

    I recently installed Windows 10 Anniversary update on my top of the line custom gaming PC that cost almost £1000. It took well over an hour and multiple restarts to install.
    Windows Itself took less time than that. Did I mention it did this automatically without my permission?

  29. MichaelG says:

    Right click on Computer, select Manage. Go to the Services Control Panel (may be under Services and Applications) Find Windows Update. Right click for Properties. Stop the service and change StartUp Type to “Manual”.

    MS will never bother you again.

  30. Decus says:

    The best part is they made the update re-include their store, their web browser, etc. back in all of your bars. It was a helpful reminder for me to re-check all of my other settings to make sure they didn’t change those too.

  31. CoyoteSans says:

    I have two Windows 10 machines. I have them because as the family Tech Guy, I know I’m going to have to deal with other people’s Win10 problems sooner or later, so I figured I might as well figure out their idiosyncrasies on my own terms first. Anyway, one is a Home laptop upgraded from Win 7, while the other is a brand-new desktop (well, the parts were bought last November, but semantics) with Pro OEM freshly installed. Both had their Win10 versions installed from a USB using the image available from before the Anniversary Update. Neither of these systems use Online Accounts because I don’t trust tying my system to the cloud and Cortana offers nothing I particularly want.

    The Fresh Pro Desktop has been working a dream. It installed fine, needed no driver conjiguring beyond the latest video card drivers. Even installing the Anniversary Update presented no problems beyond needing to reconfigure system settings it set back to default and needing to reinstall Classic Shell. In short, it’s the picture of the “Windows 10 has been working great for me” folks’ machines.

    The Upgraded Laptop, on the other hand, has been a complete basket case. When I finished the upgrade, I couldn’t access the WiFi at all, and had to use my dual-boot Linux which COULD use WiFi to search online to find out my firewall apparently had a service that counted as a VPN that clogged everything up. After that, for a month, everything was mostly fine.

    Then the Anniversary Update hits, and everything promptly goes to hell. First, it doesn’t even properly install the damn thing at first, hanging for hours on what I’ve come to call the “Grey Spinny Dots on Completely Black Background of Death” which necessitated a call to the Tech Support to sort out. By the way, never let anyone tell you Microsoft doesn’t care about your call center experience. They care. They care so much they won’t stop calling and emailing you for a week to make sure your problem was resolved and you had a good experience even when you tell them time and again the problem is solved and they can close the ticket already, thank you very much.

    So for weeks afterwards, for seemingly no reason, at boot up I would randomly just get stuck on the Spinny Grey Dots of Death. Sometimes a simple hard boot would fix this. Sometimes it wouldn’t. Eventually I hit a point where I couldn’t escape the Spinny Dots and had to use the “Reset This PC” option to solve the issue. Which it might not have, as I got it once after that and unplugging my usb mouse for a bit fixed the issue. But I’m glad I Reset anyway, since it seems to have cleared out all the cruft left over from Win7 and causing issues.

    So, I have two computers that between them comprise the totality of “My Experience with Win10” stories. My advice? Well, if you update from Win7/8, do a clean install, and if you already updated not doing that and are having problems, Reset it. At least they give you the option to preserve your personal files. Have fun reinstalling all your programs, though.

  32. MadTinkerer says:

    So I bought a laptop in 2009 that had Vista installed on it. I eventually upgraded to Windows 7 because someone had a spare copy.

    Then I bought a desktop in 2016 that had Windows 7 already installed on it. I specifically went hunting for a Win7 desktop in 2016.

    I’m having trouble finding games that won’t run on it, but I only pay attention to Steam. And GoG. And Humble Bundle. And itch.io. And Gamejolt. And various mod sites. And Doom engine clones. And clones of things that aren’t the Doom Engine like Exult. And many, many roguelikes and other free Indie games.

    EVERYTHING you can find on the Internet, and most online stores, and at retail, runs on Win 7. Most things that run on Mac OS and/or Linux also have a link right next to them for the “Windows version” which runs just fine on 7.

    (EDIT: I don’t have a VR headset, but OTHER than VR…)

    Wait a minute:

    Do you guys actually have Windows 10 installed?

    Really?

    This isn’t a some kind of elaborate prank?

    I mean: Windows stopped trying to get me to upgrade for free, and none of the computers at my office have anything more recent than Win 7. (Some machines are still running OS/2 Warp or FreeBSD or some other 90s-era OS.) Other than what the signs say at my local Best Buy, I don’t personally have any actual physical proof that Windows 10 exists. The only time I hear about Windows 10 is when Shamus complains about it or I run across some random video on Youtube complaining about it… but that’s not actually proof, is it?

    You guys wouldn’t just make all this up would you? I joke that Windows 7 was the last OS Microsoft made, but I just realized… I don’t actually have any proof to the contrary

    • Supah Ewok says:

      Windows 10 has the latest version of Directx exclusive. Windows 7 support ends around 2020. The big boys don’t want to gimp sales too much yet, but several mid to indie tier games have been released as Windows 10 exclusive, and their numbers will continue to do increase.

  33. Supah Ewok says:

    I tried to upgrade to Windows 10 this summer when I installed an SSD. Win 7 installation was fast. The upgrade to 10 was broken slow, like over 12 hours on an SSD and ethernet connection. Made me worry right off the bat.

    But Win 10 does install by the time I get up the next day. Start installing hardware drivers, go online for the big Nvidia driver, get that going… Crash about a third of the way through download. Well, that’s weird, is Nvidia fucking up? Boot and try again, crashes quicker this time. Try one more time, crash even quicker before I can start the Nvidia download. So not Nvidia, what the fuck was it?

    Between stints in Safe Mode and a desktop which would crash between 15 seconds and 3 minutes, I figured out that some driver in my CPU was killing 10. It wasn’t a necessary driver, it was something for some add on firmware or whatever. I tried a handful of ways to disable it, but nothing stuck. After over half a day I reverted to 7 and all was well.

    I’ll try upgrading again in a couple of years, after I graduate and have the cash to drop on a new motherboard and CPU. Probably around a year off the cutting of Win 7 support. Not bothering to try again before.

  34. Tektotherriggen says:

    I stalled reading at this line: “I think a download that size would run me $10USD.” Is this normal in the USA? Here in the UK, all-inclusive deals are the universal standard, with almost unlimited data. How did digital downloads, streaming and the like ever take off in a country where this happens? And why don’t you rise up in riots every time a video add forces you to pay to watch it?

    • Shamus says:

      I don’t think it’s normal. Three years ago my internet was ~$70, unlimited. Then they added a data cap with overage charges. Then they hiked up the price. I’m paying about two or three times what I was a few years ago.

      • Here in Norway there are no datacaps on landlines (only on mobile).

        And the landline speeds get increased almost every year, sometimes with no price change and sometimes with price change. It varies a little by how much between companies. And if the company has a deal with the apartemt complex or neighbourhood you live in then you could shave of quite a few bucks on the cost.

      • Tektotherriggen says:

        Ah, I see. That makes a lot more sense on a national scale, but it’s bad of them to dick you over like that. Let me guess – they’re a local monopoly too.

        • Taellosse says:

          I can’t speak for Shamus, but yeah, local monopolies are pretty much endemic in the US when it comes to internet. If you’re lucky, you can get internet service from 1 of 2 providers, both of which are terrible (usually the local cable monopoly or the local telephone monopoly. Extremely occasionally there will be actual competition in one or the other market, and you’ll get 3 bad choices). Rare, rare areas will have a forward-thinking town that actually provides high-speed internet as a public utility, along the same lines as water and (sometimes) electrical power. My parents live in such a town, and I envy them their reasonable prices and low incidence of headaches.

      • kdansky says:

        It’s a US problem. In Switzerland I now have unlimited 100 Mbit down/up (yes, both directions) for $60 a month, of course unlimited, and that’s not even the high-end option. Speeds have improved continually since the late nineties, doubling every couple years.

        The US population really gets hung out to dry by the monopolistic ISP companies.

  35. LCF says:

    “The fact that you’re reading this probably gives you a clue as to how things turned out.”
    I guess it went well and you had a proper good time with the game. In other news, world peace has been achieved, diseases are conquered and everybody dies peacefully past 90 years of age.

    “the text vanishes and is replaced with a scroll box”
    – Guys, guys, listen, I know how to cheer up our user base!

    “Microsoft has removed all progress bars”
    I’m going to cling to my Win7 so hard…

    “I’m now an hour and a half deep into the process of trying to get a free game”
    If you’re telling you’re not having fun, I’ll have to revoke your Geek card.

    “Back in 2010 GFWL tried to give away a videogame.
    => for whatever reason, adding an item to my cart transported me to Frenchworld. I try to navigate back but it’s now all French, all the time.”
    LA VICTOIRE EN CHANTAAAANT, NOUS OUVREUUU LA BARRIEEEREUUU…
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9HFF9gnlY3c

  36. You can also get to safe mode by clicking the start button, and hold the SHIFT key while clicking the RESTART button. Makes it easy with SSDs

    This update is complete BS btw, it downloaded by itself, and then every time I turned on my computer it would take about 2 hours to install, then at the last moment say “Unable to install updates, removing updates” and revert back to the un-updated windows. Only fix was a complete re-install

    • Zak McKracken says:

      To be fair, I’ve had one update on Win7 which failed in the same way: Tries to install, fails, then starts over with every single reboot. Took me a while to work out which one it was and tell Windows not to try again.

  37. It seems your mileage may vary a lot on certain hardware. Win 10 w/Anniversary Update works great her even on my quite aging hardware.

    All RAM not showing and mis-iding the GPU indicate a possible issue with the Motherboard’s BIOS.

    Resetting thhe CMOS may be needed, and if the GPU or CPU or MB is overclocked you should restore them to factory settings again.

    And you may also need to install the Win 10 drivers (if available) for the MB or GPU as the Win 8.x and Win 7 and Vista drivers may not work well enough with Win 10.

    Also do not be surprised if your soundcard is messing up your system, I’ve had my Soundblaster Z drivers mess up by USB ports on Windows 7 for some odd reason. And Dolby Digital software bundled with the soundcard conflicted with the AMD drivers, removing them fixed a issue with the soundblaster control panel being super slow.

  38. MaxEd says:

    Let met tell you something of our company’s experience with Windows Store from developer/publisher side. We have recently released a Prisma-like app (the same idea, but different/faster neural network and set of filters) named Matissa on Windows 10 (both on mobiles and desktop) and Windows Phone 8.1.

    A few days after uploading app bundle to the store, we notice that there aren’t too many users downloading it. So we go to store to check out our product’s page, see if something wrong or what… And guess what? Our app is IMPOSSIBLE to find in store, unless you know the EXACT name and type it into search box. It’s not available in “New” category. It’s not available in “Photography” category, even if you check out ALL pages (mostly filled with utter trash).

    Microsoft simply hid our app from users in Store.

    We contacted their tech support, and they said they have “new automatic algorithm”, and they can’t do anything about placement of apps, but they “feel our pain”. We then point out that not only our app suffered this fate, but also our only competition on Windows Phone, Vinci, also could not be found in Store. Guess what? The next day, Vinci is clearly visible (first place in Photography category, no less), but you still can’t find our app!

    We are seriously considering never releasing anything on Windows 10 in future (even though we had good experience with WP 8.0 and 8.1 a few years before). Also, the build process on Windows 10 bundles in MS Build is a horrible mess, but this is a subject for another, more technical rant.

  39. Taellosse says:

    *sigh* On the one hand, I’ve been on Windows 10 for months and haven’t had all that much trouble (I dislike how little control I have over when updates are installed, but they have yet to cause me more than mild irritation, certainly nothing on this level). On the other hand, I have absolutely zero faith in Microsoft to run a store in anything remotely resembling a sensible fashion.

    It’s a shame, too, because I have been thinking I might want to give ReCore a try in a few months, when they finish making it playable. And I sure as hell am not getting an XB1 anytime soon, so Windows Store would be the only way to do that.

  40. Ivan says:

    Great article Shamus, I remember your rants about GFWL were also informative and entertaining. One question though, what might this ‘reset button’ you mentioned refer to? I checked my keyboard, and it has nothing of the sort, and my case has one button, the power button. Are you referring to that, or is the ‘reset button’ something that comes on a non-standard keyboard, or on a fancy case?

  41. Kerethos says:

    From everything I’ve read, seen and heard so far I’d rather shave my legs by pulling out the hair with my teeth than “upgrade” from Windows 7.

    Just… why Microsoft? Why are you so bad at making user friendly software? Why do you hate your customers and why would you rather waste their time than just sell them a working product?

    I bet they’ll eventually manage to break 7 and force me into 10… that’ll be a bad day :(

    • Zak McKracken says:

      I see two perspectives onto this:

      1: “Customers do not want to own or control things, they want to get everything for free and have it managed by some too-powerful company. That’s why Google and Apple are so powerfull. Also, everything must be online these days. Nobody wants devices which can work offline.”

      2: “Hmm! If we “gift” them Windows 10 but tie it to our own online store we can control what they put on their devices, and then everyone pays us money to get their products into our store! Worked for Apple, Google and Valve, and counterintuitively, customers seem to love it, so we should get in on that”

      Also, generally the larger a company is the more control-freaky they become, and the harder it is for negative feedback to travel upstream to the people making the big decisions, because all they ever see is “metrics”.
      I mean, even Firefox wants me to tie it to some online account or whatnot these days … what’s wrong with the internet?

  42. WJS says:

    Wait, you couldn’t get to safe mode because it boots too fast on an SSD? What about the “safe mode” checkbox in msconfig? Was your system so badly broken that you couldn’t even access that?

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