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Upgrading an old PC to Windows 10? You're on your own

Bill Snyder | Aug. 21, 2015
Microsoft's free upgrade strategy places the burden of support on PC makers -- and for 'unsupported' systems, they're punting to you

Less clear, though, is what to do if a PC is not on the list. In some cases, the system will run Windows 10, although the manufacturer has not written drivers or tested it. In other cases, it won't run Windows 10 at all.

Microsoft has provided its own tool to test for Windows 10 compatibility. The Get Windows 10 app was pushed onto many PCs before Windows 10's release during routine updates. If you fire up the app and select the Check Your PC option, the app will scan your system for potential Windows 10 compatibility problems.

What happens if Microsoft says your PC is OK to upgrade, but that system isn't on the vendor's supported list? Here, for example, is what an Acer spokeswoman told me:

We will release any required BIOS updates and/or drivers for any systems on the approved list. If a product is not on the approved list, a customer may still be able to install Windows 10, but we will not release new BIOS/drivers for Windows 10, cannot guarantee it will work, etc.

That's pretty much what I heard from the other companies, too.

Welcome to patch city

The worst case is when Microsoft's compatibility app gives the thumbs-up — and the system won't run properly once the update has been performed. If the system was on the vendor's Windows 10 approved list, that vendor should provide support. If not (particularly if it's an old, out-of-warranty system) the chances of getting vendor support are slim.

Meanwhile, Microsoft is already whipping out patches on an operating system that has only been live for a couple of weeks. Microsoft has released the second "cumulative update" — meaning a major set of patches — for Windows 10 in only three days.

We're also seeing buggy updates, an issue that has bedeviled Microsoft's Windows patches for several years now. Windows 10 is already experiencing its own buggy updates

Overall, Windows 10 is a huge improvement over Windows 8, but the reluctance of PC makers to support many potentially viable PCs smacks of planned obsolescence. That won't do much to build loyalty at a time when the PC makers should be showering the thinning ranks of their customers with love.


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