A few months ago we talked about how Microsoft was getting ready to release a new (and mostly free) version of their Windows 10 operating system. Well with the holiday shopping season just around the corner, we thought that now would be a good time to give a review of where Windows 10 currently stands since it will be included on a lot of new devices coming out. The library has not made the upgrade to Windows 10 yet on our public computers (we’re not scheduled to do so anytime soon), and our computers all still use Windows 7.
Public reception of Windows 10 has been mostly positive from what I’ve seen, especially from those having made the switch from Windows 8.1 (the one that uses large tiles). My experience with Windows 8.1 has been limited to helping people with computer issues at the library, but I found it be incredibly tedious when trying to navigate to different programs or settings. It constantly requires you to go into separate screens to access programs, and switching between them can be a bit of a hassle. It was quite the departure from what we’ve come to expect from Windows over the years. Most 8.1 users will rejoice at the fact that one of the best features for people switching to 10 is the re-introduction of the traditional start button.
My upgrade to Windows 10 was from Windows 7, so I didn’t rejoice as much as some others but I’ve been pleasantly surprised with my experience so far. The upgrade had a few hiccups when I was trying to install, but I did it right when it was released and that is to be expected. After I straightened out the installation, the actual experience of using the new operating system has been a delight.
The new design makes the taskbar and windows much more aesthetically pleasing and modern looking than previous versions. Having the start button back is great, especially since it comes with two new features that I find very helpful. The first is the repurposed live tiles that Windows 8.1 users will recognize, and the other is the introduction of Cortana. I find that the live tiles work better in this new version of Windows because it is confined to a very specific space, along with being customizable about which information/apps are shown and at what sizes. Checking the weather or my calendar is now as simple as simply clicking the start button. Cortana is Microsoft’s digital assistant to rival Google’s Google Now and Apple’s Siri. It is seamlessly integrated into the taskbar and start menu. The digital assistant is able to answer questions, play music, search the internet, schedule reminders or alarms, and search your hard drive for files, pictures, etc.
Have you ever received an update or notification but didn’t have time to read it or it gave you the most generic information possible about what was updated? Well, Windows 10 tries to fix that by having the action center list the updates until you read or dismiss them. They provide more details about updates/notifications that have taken place, so it’s more useful at a glance than anything Windows has offered previously. It also keeps all of the notifications in a compact area at the right side of the task bar.
One of my favorite features that Windows has had in the past was the ability to snap windows to the edge of the screen, enabling you to split your screen directly in half with two windows. Now Windows is offering the ability to have each window snap to a corner, allowing you to have four windows visible at any one time, with each taking up a quarter of the screen. I find this incredibly useful when I need to multitask and use different programs at once.
If you can’t stand Windows 8.1 and absolutely need to get rid of it, I’d recommend upgrading to Windows 10. If you’re a Windows 7 user or are just happy with your current version of Windows, there really isn’t a rush to make the jump yet (you have until August to make the upgrade for free). There are still some kinks that need to be worked out (like the issue that plagued my installation process), so it might be better to wait a few more weeks until more of the issues are worked out. Overall it looks very promising and should make most people happy. There hasn’t been a single task that I’ve found tedious or aggravating in any way after the installation.