When a new OS comes along it can be a bit scary for those of us running professional audio software – there’s no knowing what will work and what won’t and the industry as a whole tends to sit around waiting for someone else to do it first. If your livelihood is tied up in your computer – tweaked and purposed for music production – then this is a very real issue.
Usually the best advice for installing a new OS is to do a fresh install – start from scratch – ideally on a new machine. That way you can methodically install and test all the audio software and utilities you need – it’s also a very healthy way of clearing out all the rubbish that our computers accumulate over time. We’ll be doing a Molten Music Tech video on that sort of thing very soon but in this instance, with my Surface Pro 3 we’re going to attempt the unthinkable – we’re going to pack it full of audio software and then run the upgrade like we don’t have a care in the world.
We’re not going to tweak it or do anything special we’re simply going to see what survives and run some simple projects to see how the performance compares to Windows 8.1 in a very vague sense.
Sounds exciting – let’s get to it!
Here’s a list of what I had installed on Windows 8.1:
Ableton Live 9.2.1
Cubase Pro 8.0.2
Pro Tools 12.1
Studio One V3.02
FL Studio 12
Arturia V Collection
Avid Fast Track Duo
Novation Bass Station II
Novation Launch Pad
That’s a pretty comprehensive list and I only just about had room for it all. I put all the library and samples onto an external drive which makes things much easier if a little less portable.
The actual upgrade process was really easy and I’ve produced an article about it here: http://surfaceproaudio.com/installing-the-windows-10-upgrade-on-my-surface-3/
For the full details of the upgrade, running the audio software and how well they performed compared to Windows 8.1 then you need to check out the video. If you’d just like to read my thoughts and how it all went then skip below.
So what’s the point to all this? Well all I’m attempting to do is demonstrate how easy or hard it is for the software musician to transition to Windows 10. Hopefully by sharing my experience here you can make a more informed judgement over whether you want to take the plunge yourself. But please bear the following in mind:
Firstly, this is a Surface Pro 3, designed and built by Microsoft onto which a new OS is being installed which is also designed and built by Microsoft – so the probability that the upgrade would be flawless is pretty darn high. Your experience with other computer hardware might be very different.
Second – all the tests performed here are pretty vague and unscientific and cannot be taken as some kind of benchmark but are rather an indication of how the audio performance in Windows 10 compares to Windows 8.1
And three – I haven’t gone into any real depth with any of the applications – I’ve just run them and got their demo songs to play. There may be other issues which would only be seen when using the software creatively. So it’s with those things in mind that I can draw the following conclusions:
Wow – that was easy! No mess, no fuss, no heartache, it all just worked. All my software survived the upgrade working and intact. The performance comparison showed that it’s all basically the same as Windows 8.1 in the tests I ran – and that’s cool – the important thing was that there was no sudden drop in performance – and there wasn’t. Buffer sizes and latency were unchanged – no surprises at all. There’s some new stuff apparently about WSAPI drivers which I haven’t touched on here – I’ve used ASIO drivers for these tests but I might get into the WSAPI stuff in another video. Windows 10 is looking clean and simple to use but there are some things to get used to. I’m unsure as to whether tablet mode is worthwhile if like me you are swapping between desktop and metro apps all the time. I used tablet mode on my little Surface 3 but then that’s just used for internet, media and games so that’s ideal. The start menu is a bit redundant but I’ll use it to access the modern apps and check live tiles – I’d honestly prefer the Windows 8 version where I get all my apps on screen which was simpler than this new Tablet mode malarkey, but, you know, you work with what you’ve got. I did discover that the search box can be reduced to a Cortana icon – right-click the task bar and you’ll find it there – so now all my audio software sits on a single taskbar – awesome.
We need to give it some time to settle, to try things out, see how best to tweak it for audio production and I’ll be doing a video on that in a month or two. As of now we’ll be making Windows 10 available on all our Molten Music Technology audio PC’s. Would I recommend it? Yes – provided your software and hardware are supported then yes, go with it.
So there you are – I hope that was helpful. Please share your thoughts or experiences in the comments.
Make more tunes.