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Windows 10: What You Need To Know


updated over 2 years ago

Windows 10

Microsoft released the latest version of Windows on July 29th after a very disappointing Windows 8 and 8.1. All versions of Windows 8 never even eclipsed Windows 7, the one true successor of XP. So after several missteps in the last few years, what can you expect from Windows 10?


TL;DR

  • The last major release of Windows
  • Free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, 8.1 (for one year)
  • Better start menu (but not exactly Windows 7)
  • Possibly troubling privacy issues
  • Better compatibility
  • Some interesting new tools that don't always work (yet)
  • No More Charm bar, no more Metro tile start page
  • Microsoft Store (which will hopefully improve)
  • Advertising?

The Last Big Release

Microsoft will embrace Windows As A Service, which means no more major releases like Vista, 7, and 8. Instead they will update Windows by pushing smaller patches and updates continually instead of as big releases that you pay for. These will be automatic and can't be turned off. Microsoft will likely turn to advertising and a heavy push to their app store for revenue going forward, but new versions of Windows will still have to be purchased after the free upgrade period.


Free Upgrades

If your computer is running Windows 7, 8, or 8.1 you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free for one year. Depending on how your current Microsoft updates are set you may have a Windows icon by the clock that you can click to begin the upgrade process. If you prefer, Connex can do the update for you, including data backup to ensure you don't lose your pictures or documents. We are offering a discount for Windows 10 upgrades from now through September.
Note: Upgrading the operating system is a fairly major procedure and it's had issues with past versions of Windows. You don't have to upgrade immediately, and waiting a couple weeks to let the bugs get ironed out is probably a good idea.


Better Start Menu

The atrocious Metro tiled start page of Windows 8 is gone, thankfully. A new hybrid start menu includes a few smaller tiles and a small list of programs. It's not the same as Windows 7 and is not as configurable, but still better than Metro. I'm sure third-party add-ons will soon emerge that allow a return to the classic start menu if you prefer. Check with us for more info.


Privacy Issues

I'm a proponent of privacy on our computers, and the Windows 10 privacy agreement gives Microsoft very broad permissions to gather data on you, including snooping your personal files, your web history, current web pages, location, contacts, calendars, emails- pretty much anything they can gather about you, including listening to you. They also give themselves permission to share this with advertisers and other companies and agencies. You can read more here. This is my biggest concern about the new OS and the reason I am not upgrading, at least for now.


Compatibility

Windows has made big strides in compatibility with most hardware in the last few years, and 10 appears to be the best yet. Drivers are mostly handled for you, which is pretty handy. When I started working on computers, it was a trick just to get a sound card to show up, let alone take a driver. It's much easier today, the average user won't have to think much about it; just plug in your new device and Windows will install it for you in most cases.


New Tools

Windows 8 attempted to add several new tools for news, weather, email, web browsing, etc. Some of these were pretty handy but most were sadly broken. If you had Windows 8 you probably became leery of clicking a tile for fear it would overtake the screen and then proceed to do nothing at all, including letting you back to the desktop. Much, but definitely not all, is improved in Windows 10. Also included is multiple Desktops, something Linux and OSX have had for years. You can have several workspaces open and easily move between them- great for the multi-tasker. Internet Explorer 11 is included for compatibility, but has been replaced by a new, and most welcome, browser called Edge. I still don't recommend it over Chrome or Firefox, but it's a great improvement over IE (which you should most definitely move away from).


Return to sane(r) navigation

The charm bar is gone, as is left-side task switching. If you struggled with just turning the computer off with Windows 8 you will be glad it's gone. On the other hand, Windows Settings appears to compete with Control Panel for system settings, maintaining some of the apps and Control Panel others; pick one. The start menu is the most welcome return although it's a bit dubious in my opinion. It's not very customizable and is still limiting for desktop users- I don't think you can effectively unify an interface from dual monitors all the way down to a phone screen. I believe it should easily switch depending on the device and be customizable by the user.


Microsoft Store

Microsoft is WAAAAYYY behind in terms of apps; Google and Apple have a years long head start, with apps numbering in the millions each. Microsoft finally woke up, but they have yet to catch up, even a little bit. I think they will be a player in the future but it will take some time to get developers to embrace the Microsoft way; it's got some problems and has been plagued with some less than stellar titles and some junkware and adware. It will improve over time.


Advertising

Microsoft has given themselves permission to grab your data for lots of reasons, including advertising. Partners will have access to your data to target ads to you. Expect at some point, or maybe on some versions of Windows, to see ads on the lock screen and possibly elsewhere as tiles or other popups. I understand advertising is a significant revenue source for companies, but this feels like it's crossing the line a little bit, particularly if I'm buying the OS. And yes, I did say it was a free upgrade for a year, but Windows 10 will cost around $150-$200 to buy outright (depending on version), and this cost will be included in new computers with Windows 10, just as it's been since the days of DOS.


A Big Change

Windows 10 marks a fundamental shift in how Microsoft will distribute their flagship software. And after a decade of stagnation and less-than-stellar releases it will be interesting to see how it goes. I think Microsoft is becoming a new company, with much needed leadership under a new CEO and new directions that include open-sourcing some of their software and working more closely with other leaders in web technology. I believe they will become a better company for it and return to more relevant roles. Now if we could just get everyone to stop snooping on us...

More

You can read here for an even more in-depth review of Windows 10, and here for more on Windows 10 privacy issues.

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