Windows 10 – Released but Ready?

Windows-10-Logo-Released-Game-CompatibilityWindows 10 has finally been certified ready to be released to the greater public, but is it really ready for prime time? A glance around the internet gives mostly positive ‘reviews’ of Microsoft’s new operating system, but reviewing something as ubiquitous as a Microsoft OS is tricky at best and pointless at worse. Unlike iOS, which benefits (and suffers) from proprietary freedoms (and constraints), Microsoft has the unenviable task of catering to the world at large. While iOS simply has to make sure it works correctly on Apple products, Microsoft has to make sure Windows works with an endless supply of hardware, software, gadgets, and an ever evolving array of said categories.

Rather than attempt a futile review of Windows 10, this post is going to be a brief summary of the features W10 brings to gamers followed by a hesitant look at some of the games you might be playing with respect to W10.

Windows 10 – What’s In The Box?

First off, Windows 10 is a free upgrade for anyone using Windows 7 or 8/8.1. There is an option to upgrade your OS while keeping all your programs and files intact. However, a clean install is always a good idea. At the very least make sure and back up anything you don’t want to risk losing to some wonky problem. There is also an option to create a boot disc and do a clean install that way.

I’m going to take for granted that, by now, most everyone is familiar with the new features coming in W10:

Edge – A replacement for the old Internet Explorer. It’s sleek, fast, and looks to be a good beginning departure from IE. That said, it’s lacking browser extensions (Microsoft has said they’re coming soon TM). Pretty much a nail in the coffin (for any power users) to an otherwise decent browser with some genuinely nice features.

Windows-10-W10-Cortana-Halo-IntegrationCortana – Yes, Master Chief’s Cortana is now a real thing – just without the cheeky AI, good looks, and… Well, okay, Microsoft’s Cortana is pretty much nothing like the Halo induced dream you’d wish for. That said, she’s very helpful and completely integrated into the OS (Search, Edge, etc). Some of you will find her insanely handy, others will be amused for 10 minutes and never give her a second thought.

Xbox Connectivity – Do you have an Xbox One? If so, you’ll be able to stream games to your PC and generally keep track of your X1 profile via your computer, windows phone, and windows tablet. Oh and Cortana is also coming to Xbox One. While the Xbox App makes perfect sense as an addition to Windows 10, your mileage will vary.

DirectX 12 – At the moment the next version of DirectX is simply a shiny thing that could/probably/will be great. Until more games come out utilizing DX12 (as well as more hardware), it’s nothing more than conceptually cool. That said, it would be foolish to think that DirectX 12 isn’t going to be important to the gaming world a few years down the road.

Windows App Store – Of course there is an app store. Apps, games, music, movies, TV shows, and undoubtedly more digital treasures and flotsam will make its way onto the store.

The Inevitable Problems

Windows-10-Install-ErrorPerhaps one of the more amusing errors people are encountering while upgrading to Windows 10 comes during the installation. A blue screen pops up and accurately, if unhelpfully, informs you that “Something happened.” I’m not kidding. The error seems to be related to the installer thinking your PC doesn’t meet the requirements. However, many users have been able to solve the problem by forgoing the handy upgrade and just doing a clean install.

The biggest complaint comes in the form of forced updates. Windows 10 doesn’t allow you to turn off updates. From a security stand point, this is a solid decision. From a consumer (and frankly common sense) stand point, this is a ridiculous “feature” that no one wanted. These forced updates are causing havoc with some peoples graphic drivers (notably NVIDIA users) and the Realtek audio drivers. While both NVIDIA and AMD have released fixes, some people are still reporting issues getting the drivers to work properly. What happens is Windows assumes you want the newest graphic drivers available, but some people are reporting issues with the new drivers and so they rollback to an earlier version. This makes perfect sense and in other incarnations of Windows was a perfect solution for dealing with pesky driver issues. However, in W10 Microsoft has decided it knows better than you and forces you to re-update to the faulty drivers you rolled back. Fortunately, a few days ago a tool was found which allows you to temporarily stop certain updates from reinstalling. It’s not perfect, but at least it’s something.

Another often complained about ‘feature’ is how Windows 10, by default, assumes you want to share your Wi-Fi network passwords with your Facebook friends, Outlook contacts, and Skype buddies. Yep, there is no way that could ever go wrong. WiFi Sense (which ironically has little) can be turned off, thankfully, but if you don’t know it’s already on, chances are your network password (which hopefully are a unique password and not tied to anything sensitive) is floating around out there.

Finally, yes the start menu is back.

Games? Games.

xbox-gaming-windows-10-W10-integrationSimply because I say “Yes, X game works fine on W10,” doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you. If the game was made before 2005-2006, there is a good chance you’re going to run into problems. That said, there are reports of games as old as Diablo somehow running well on W10.

Take this list for what it is: A brief, incomplete, and inconclusive guideline for what you may be able to get running on Windows 10. Between my own personal tests, colleague’s tests, and some gratuitous game site and forum searches, I’ve come to the conclusion that these games currently do or do not work well with Windows 10 (most if not all of these games are favorites here at SimHQ):

Battle of Britain

  • Likely unplayable or problematic (Unconfirmed).

Battle of Britain 2

  • Reports of Win XP SP3 compatibility mode working for some people. Even so, there are still likely going to be some problems.

DCS World

  • Seems to be working for most people.

EECH / EEAH

  • No Info Yet
  • Likely unplayable or problematic. (Unconfirmed)

Falcon 4.0

  • Likely unplayable or problematic (Unconfirmed)

IL-2 Cliffs of Dover

  • Reports of success in technical preview versions.
  • Unconfirmed in current release.

IL-2 FB, AEP, PF

  • Reports of success in technical preview versions.
  • Unconfirmed in current release.

IL-2 Battle of Stalingrad

  • Seems to be working for most people.

Wings: Over Flanders Fields

  • No Info Yet
  • Likely playable (Unconfirmed)

Arma 2/OA

  • Playable

Arma 3

  • Playable

DayZMod

  • Playable

DayZ Standalone

  • Playable

Elite: Dangerous

  • Playable

Star Citizen

  • Playable

Here is a community list of compatible games for Windows 10 on Microsoft’s Answers page. Keep in mind even this list is pretty flawed, for instance a lot of people are reporting problems with games like Fallout 3, despite their appearance on the list.

Tips To Get Your Game Working

Windows 10 gives you a 30 day OS roll back option if you decide Windows 10 isn’t right for you just yet.

  1. Check your drivers. I know that’s pedantic and overused, but given the amount of grief graphic drivers are giving some people it could really help.
  2. Check your sound drivers, particularly if they’re Realtek. You’d be surprised at the amount of CTD’s and other problems that arise from sound issues.
  3. Try different compatibility modes (Older OS’s for even older games).
  4. Google is your friend.
  5. If you did a direct upgrade of your OS, try doing the clean install method (desperate measures).

If the game is particularly old, you might simply be out of luck getting it to work on Windows 10. Some industrious modders may one day find a way to make it work, or if the game is old, but still supported by the developer, it may receive a patch. Otherwise, your options are limited to rolling back to your previous version of Windows or dual booting different Windows versions.

All in all, Windows 10 is a step in the right direction and goes a long way to making up for the wrongs (real or perceived) Windows 8 dealt the public. If you want to take the plunge and upgrade a.s.a.p, Windows 10’s launch has been one of the most smooth launches yet. If you’re not overly concerned with jumping on board wait until Service Pack 1 is eventually released. Even if you’re not particularly interested in Windows 10, you’re going to have to make the leap eventually. Windows Vista, 7, and 8 still have some good years of support left in them, but if Microsoft is true to its word that 10 will be the “last” version of windows, then sooner or later, necessity will force people to W10, even if it looks dramatically different by then.

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