*Due to the fact Ed Bott spontaneously reversed his statement that Windows 10 upgrades won't be free indefinitely, I'm inclined to believe the opposite... in that Microsoft paid him to reverse his article so that more people will hurry and upgrade when there's no reason to. I could be wrong, but if I'm not then that's proof Ed Bott is just a Microsoft paperboy.
EDIT: Ed Bott was wrong as the Windows 10 free upgrades are still operational (brig surprise)
First and foremost, do not use Windows 10 Home, it's crippled in horrible ways (it lacks gpedit, you cannot defer updates, etc). In fact, the best edition of Windows 10 to use is 'Enterprise', but since I don't have Enterprise--and most people won't I imagine--we'll deal with Professional.
EDIT: Windows 10 Professional now has a crippled group policy editor meaning the only edition of Windows 10 you'll want to run is enterprise.
First thing you'll want to do is fire up powershell as administrator and run the following to remove all of the useless Microsoft 'apps':
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Get-AppxPackage *windowscommunicationsapps* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowscamera* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *zunemusic* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowsmaps* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *zunevideo* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *people* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *photos* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *windowsstore* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *soundrecorder* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *xboxapp* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *bingweather* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *phone* | Remove-AppxPackage
Get-AppxPackage *onenote* | Remove-AppxPackage
Note: if you use any of those feel free to keep them, but I've deemed all of that useless.
Now we'll want to get rid of One Drive. Open up run and launch gpedit.msc. Rifle through the following:
Local Computer Policy > Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > OneDrive
(double click on OneDrive and select disabled).
Of course you can just remove it outright which is what I did in CMD:
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taskkill /f /im OneDrive.exe
Next up Cortana. It is possible to remove Cortana outright, but doing so will break the search functionality which I am certain everyone uses. Windows 10 search is actually quite awful in contrast to Windows 7 since it *does not* actually find everything on your local computer half of the time. So, gpedit.msc is the best option either way so you're not breaking critical Windows services. Open up gpedit.msc like last time and go to the following:
Computer Configuration > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Search
And put the following to disabled:
Allow Cortana | State: Disabled
Allow search and Cortana to use location | State: Disabled
Load up the Windows 'settings' window (it uses the new Windows 10 Metro interface)
Go to: Update & Security > Windows Update > Advanced options
Change 'Automatic (recommended)' to 'Notify schedule to restart'
Check off 'Defer upgrades'
This way your computer won't automatically restart and update to interrupt your work, and you won't have potentially system breaking updates rolled out to your system.
Note: if there's a major package that's updated to your computer, Windows 10 can and will remove certain software it deems incompatible. So always make sure you have backups before scheduling a major update.
While still in settings, go to Privacy > General
Ensure basically everything is set to 'Off' unless you have a reason otherwise
Under location do the same (you'll notice Cortana will show 'Disabled by company policy' after we configured it to be disabled in Group Policy). And all of the rest too.
I noticed 'Let apps use my camera' was enabled for some reason... good thing I don't have a camera on this system. Let apps use my account info was enabled by default... and basically everything else (despite me turning all of those 'off' in the initial setup).
You should install spybot anti-beacon for easily disabling the rest of the diagnostic and telemetry services and allow it to re-immunize each time Windows 10 starts. It also takes care of the issue with 'feedback & diagnostics', under normal circumstances you cannot turn this off from Basic unless you're running Enterprise, but it is still possible via the registry, or as mentioned just letting spyot anti-beacon do it for you.
And that's about the main stuff. For customizing the UI, I would advise enabling 'show color on star, taskbar, action center, and title bar' under personalization so you get colour separation on the already flat interface.
There's a few other things (I) do such as removing IE and setting everything off under advanced system settings > performance-- except show shadows under windows / mouse point and show contents while dragging.