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Windows 10 approved for University use with provisos

Three weeks after its initial release, Information Systems & Computing (ISC) believes that it is reasonable for many Windows users at the University with a compatible PC to upgrade to Windows 10. Before upgrading, faculty and staff should consult with their Local Support Provider (LSP) to ensure that local requirements are fulfilled.

Windows 10 for desktops, notebooks, and Intel-based tablets was released on July 29th, 2015. Windows 10 is a no-cost upgrade for individual users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.x for at least the first year of release—this no-cost upgrade is not available to many institutional users, though upgrades may be available as part of campus agreements for participating Schools and Centers. ISC believes this “free" upgrade will accelerate the rate of University adoption for Windows 10; our best data indicates that 8% of Windows systems at Penn already have upgraded to Windows 10.

ISC recommends Windows 10 only for systems that have at least 4.0 GB of RAM, with 8.0 GB or more being preferred. The full installation of Windows uses approximately 16 GB of disk space for the download and installation, depending mostly on the type of system.

Provisos

Windows 10 works as expected with many Penn applications and services, including AirPennNet, Assignments, ISC Exchange, ISC Zimbra, and Penn+Box. However, there are a few known issues, some of which are especially relevant to users at Penn.

  1. As is the trend in many modern operating systems, Windows 10 makes significant privacy trade-offs, especially in the lowest-cost Home version. Because of this, ISC believes that over time Windows 10 will emphasize the difference between institutionally-owned and individually-owned computers—they may both theoretically run the same operating system, but the user experience will of necessity be different. Ars Technica has an even-handed article on this: http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/08/windows-10s-privacy-policy-is-the-new-normal/ 
     
  1. Windows 10 includes a new default web browser (Microsoft Edge) which is incompatible with many web sites, including some of Microsoft’s own. ISC suggests using Internet Explorer 11 (also included with Windows 10), Mozilla Firefox, or Google Chrome instead.
     
  1. While Windows 10 installs on any currently supported system, older computers near their end of life cycle may encounter problems, particularly those constrained by low hard disk space or minimum RAM. Be sure to have a current backup (using local or network means) before installing Windows 10 in case there is a need to back out of the installation.
     
  1. Some supported applications (notably Symantec Endpoint Protection) require an update to be compatible with Windows 10. The Windows 10 savvy SEP 12.1.6.1a is available here
     
  1. For Windows 8.x users, ISC suggests upgrading apps purchased through the Microsoft Store before upgrading to Windows 10.
     
  1. Most Virtual Private Network (VPN) software has issues with Windows 10, including some installations that cause a total loss of networking connectivity. A fix for some of these issues is located here.

      ISC suggests consulting your local support provider and uninstalling any VPN software before performing a Windows 10 upgrade.

  1. Symantec Drive Encryption/PGP is incompatible with Windows 10 and as of mid August 2015 no update is available (Microsoft's Bit Locker functions as expected).
     
  1. Like any significantly revised operating system, Windows 10 exposes elderly software. In particular, vertical market applications and device drivers that barely worked in Windows 7 or Windows 8.x may not work at all in Windows 10. Users should be especially concerned with applications that already required using compatibility mode to run. 

For more detailed information regarding Windows 10’s compatibility at Penn, please see the University’s supported products page.

A number of Schools and Centers at Penn are providing lynda.com training to their faculty and staff. Several courses and videos are offered on Windows 10. More information is located here.