I havent installed Winstep Xtreme on Win 10 as yet [have only been on it a couple of days] but I shall do that sometime today...
So you gave in to the dark side, starkers. I read about your troubles with Win 8.1, but I didn't think you would join the Win10 club. Well, we'll all end up there at some point... I took the fight to a couple of other forums, but privacy is not a hot topic. I might use Win10 at some point, but always with a sense of defeat. When that day comes it's good to know that third party apps are ready.
I didn't give in willingly...they dragged me kicking and screaming all the way. And the tactics were as dirty as you can get. Whenever I did a factory reset or tried to roll back to Win 8.1, a download was sent to my machine moments after activation, so that when I opened Windows Update the first <read only update> was for Win 10. There were updates for Win 8.1 listed, but the illusion they were actually available was just a token gesture on MS' part.
As for the sense of defeat, well I'm furious with being made to feel that way... livid, even.
Anyway, like it or not, and I don't, I'm on Win 10 and having to get used to it. As you say, though, there are some great 3rd party apps that make it somewhat more bearable and easier to use... like Start10, for instance. I really hate the look of MS default start menu, so Start10 and WindowBlinds make it more like using Win 7 and much nicer to look at.
I'm still finding my way around cos things have either been renamed or moved or both, but once I've figured it all out and set everything up the way I want, things will get better.. I've disabled all the phone home stuff I can, so I'm a little happier in that regard, but I'm still concerned about forced updates and crap I don't want on my machines.