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The Windows 10 Technical Preview was released earlier this month. Following positive reviews, a handful of users upgraded their main Windows 7 or 8 operating system to Windows 10. When reports emerged about Windows 10 Technical Preview recording their every keystroke, naive users were shocked. If you understand what a Technical Preview is, this hardly comes as a surprise.
Based on the Windows 10 Technical Preview, let us explain how you should use early versions of any software and why making it your main solution is a bad idea.
What Is A Technical Preview?
The Windows 10 Technical Preview (TP) is an evaluation copy for enterprise users. Basically, it’s an early test version. Businesses are given the chance to try it out, see how it fits into their routines and provide Microsoft with feedback. Ideally, Microsoft will integrate the collected data into a final product that meets the needs of its customers.
We do not recommend that you install this preview if you are not an IT professional or not professionally managing corporate PCs or devices. We also do not recommend that you install this preview on your primary home or business PC.
Source: TechNet Evaluation Center
So what is it about the Technical Preview that makes it unsuitable to replace your main operating system or for private use?
It Will Contain Bugs
Early versions of a software tend to be immature. Apart from being error-prone, the software might be insecure or cause your computer to crash.
Windows 10 TP contains several bugs. Some users reported it takes a long time to start up, others noticed that the new Continuum feature doesn’t work flawlessly all the time, and apparently some modern apps fail to function properly. The video above highlights a number of other issues that might be due to the hardware being used. For a test version, that’s normal!
It Won’t Support All Hardware & Software
Windows TP was designed with modern hardware in mind and comes preloaded with a limited number of drivers. Remember that it’s an evaluation copy for enterprise users. They are using Windows 10 TP to examine compatibility with their existing setup and to make requests to Microsoft for changes. As a result, Windows 10 will go through a number of changes before its final release in mid-late 2015. A Developer Preview of Windows 10, based on which new software and hardware drivers will be developed, is expected to be available for Microsoft’s Build conference in April 2015.
Once the final version of Windows 10 is released, it will contain a wider selection of hardware drivers. Likewise, software will be updated to work with the new OS and make use of its novel features. Meanwhile, Windows 8 drivers and software should work fine on Windows 10 TP.
If you do decide to try Windows 10 TP and run into issues, whether it’s with hardware, software, or Windows 10 TP in general, browse the Windows 10 TP section on Microsoft’s Community Forum. Narrow down on a specific topic, search the entire forum, or post your own question.
Its Use Will Be Closely Monitored
Days after the Windows TP became available, Microsoft got into hot water for the amount of information it’s collecting from users of the evaluation copy. But as Lifehacker’s Whitson Gordon writes, the whole Windows 10 keylogger story is blown out of proportion.
First, the Privacy Statement makes it perfectly clear what kind of information is being collected, how it’s collected, and what it’s used for.
When you acquire, install and use the Program, Microsoft collects information about you, your devices, applications and networks, and your use of those devices, applications and networks. Examples of data we collect include your name, email address, preferences and interests; browsing, search and file history; phone call and SMS data; device configuration and sensor data; and application usage.
Source: Privacy Statements for Windows Technical Preview
Second, to develop a reliable product that meets the needs of their users, Microsoft must observe how their operating system is being used. This is why the preview is being distributed freely in the first place.
This is what Microsoft had to say on the matter:
With Windows 10, we’re kicking off the largest ever open collaborative development effort that will change the way we build and deliver Windows. Users who join the Windows Insider Program and opt-in to the Windows 10 Technical Preview are choosing to provide data and feedback that will help shape the best Windows experience for our customers.
Note that this is a special privacy statement for Microsoft’s technical previews which does not apply to the final release. Although how Microsoft is potentially being forced to violate its privacy statements by governments is a whole different story. It’s best to assume that nothing is private anymore.
The Trial Will Expire
Another reason why you shouldn’t get too comfortable with using Windows 10 Technical Preview as your main OS, is that the preview build will expire on April 15, 2015.
While Windows 10 is rumored be a free upgrade for Windows 8 users and possibly cheap for everyone else, you will still have to re-install your operating system. That said, if you’re using a Microsoft account, you will probably be able to carry over your personal settings and apps from a preview build to the final release candidate, just as Windows 8 users were able to carry over settings and apps into Windows 10 TP.
How To Use The Technical Preview Properly
If you’re still interested in trying Windows 10 TP, below are some pointers for how to best do that.
Install It On Secondary Hardware Or As A Virtual Machine
Windows 10 TP installs as an upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8. You can also install it from a USB drive. We recommend installing it on a secondary computer or as a dual boot with your current main operating system. If you don’t have a spare computer and don’t want to set up a dual boot, you can install Windows 10 TP within a virtual machine on your current computer. We recommend VMware Player.
While Microsoft does monitor how you use the OS, any feedback you provide will still be evaluated and might have an impact on the final release. To give feedback, boot into Windows 10, open the Start menu and click the Windows Feedback tile in the top right.
In the window that opens, click the recent application or area you would like to give feedback on. You will be shown previous feedback and can simply click a Me too! button in case someone already reported what you wanted to add.
How Are You Trying The Windows 10 Technical Preview?
The Technical Preview allows you to get a sneak peek at what’s coming and you can play around with a new toy. Do keep in mind that it’s a trial version that doesn’t satisfy the same quality and security standards you’d expect from the release candidate. Instead of making it your main operating system, treat it like an unfinished product and help Microsoft polish it.
By the way, in case you’re not running Windows 10 TP, you can suggest Windows features and vote on submissions on Microsoft’s Windows Feature Suggestions page [No Longer Available] or the Windows 10 Technical Preview Forum mentioned above.
What are you looking for in the Technical Preview? How did you install it and how are you evaluating it?