Microsoft has finally released Windows 10 (it’s highly anticipated operating system) to the masses. It’s a free upgrade to anyone on Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 if you upgrade before the 29th of July 2016. Otherwise if you upgrade after that date then you will have to pay £99 to upgrade to Windows 10 home or £189.99 to upgrade to Windows 10 pro.
I have been using Windows 10 for a week now and I am ready to give you my thoughts. I used an ASUS X75VC laptop with 8GB of RAM, an Intel Core i5 2.6GHz dual-core CPU, an nVidia GeForce GT 720M and a 250GB solid state drive. It had Windows 8 on it and I upgraded it to Windows 10. As such this review will also be representative of my upgrade experience.
First of all, I would like to talk about the upgrade experience. I was lucky enough that I got the notification from the “Get Windows 10” app that I could upgrade on the 29th of July, so that’s what I did. Most of the process was just me clicking I agree, next and then waiting. However, the upgrade seemed to go pretty smoothly for me. The only niggle that I ran into is to do with the touch pad on my laptop. I had to go to the ASUS website and install the latest touch pad software for my model of laptop.
Of course, the start menu is back.When Windows 8 came out there was a huge outcry from many a consumer.
But alas it’s not the same start menu that you have come to know and love. All of the tiles take up two thirds of the start menu. Also, any programs that you have installed take up one third. Speaking of which, they only display your most recently used programs/apps.
I would have liked to have seen the ability to switch between a start menu that had the look and feel of the Windows 7 style and the new Windows 10 start menu. With that being said, Microsoft have given people a mix of the new with a section for live tiles and the old with the apps that they use the most on the left.
Of course, you have a search box at the bottom of the screen called Cortana (who is a digital assistant – similar to Siri on iOS). You can ask her things like “what’s the weather like” or “send an email to my brother frank”. You can activate it by simply saying “hey cortana” or just typing in whatever you want to search.
Cortana can also do things like add appointments to your calendar and reply to emails by using voice dictation. I found it really convenient that I could also view the latest news inside of Cortana without having to open a web browser.
As far as using voice dictation, I had to go into the settings to turn on the “hey Cortana” command. I also had to sign into my Microsoft account. Cortana will also run you through some training as well so it can get to know how you talk. In my tests I used the microphone built into my laptop and I can report that it worked well.
Up next, it seems like gaming is also on Microsoft’s mind with Windows 10 because you are going to get an app called XBox which will come pre-installed on Windows 10. Using this app you will be able to stream the games that are installed on your XBox One. You can even record some of your game play as well as share some status updates. Of course, all of the XBox 360 games that you have on your XBox One will also probably take advantage of the above features.
Another favourite of mine is the snapping functionality. Since Windows 7, you had the ability to snap Windows so that you could look at two things at once. However, the snapping has improved quite a bit. When you snap a window to the left-hand or right-hand side of the screen, you will get a screen that shows all the windows that you have open at a given time and then choose the one you want to see open. If you want to, you can snap up to four different windows into place at the same time.
Whilst we are on the topic of productivity features, we also have the question of multiple monitor support. The laptop that I use has a 17″ screen, however I do like using a two monitor set-up for my main computing environment where I can (or a single 27″ screen at the least). Thankfully Windows 10 handles two monitors quite well.
Another new feature that Microsoft has brought to the table is Task View. Sometimes you might have a lot of different windows open at once. You simply click on task view (next to the search bar) and click on the plus button and you can create several virtual desktops to help you manage your windows better. A lot of you Apple fans out there might say that Microsoft has taken mission control from OSX and stuck it right into windows.
This is one of the things that I have been longing to see in Windows 10. I know that some of you are always looking for things that will increase your productivity, but now that this productivity power tool is built right into Windows 10 it is going to be a real time saver. Not only that but I see it as a good way to temporarily get rid of distractions in a pinch.
The other all-new thing that Microsoft has introduced into Windows 10 is a web browser called Microsoft Edge.
When reading articles you can click the icon that looks like a book next to the refresh button in the address bar. This will then get rid of other distractions leaving just the article itself and any pictures it might have. At least in my testing I have found this to work well. All of the articles displayed in their entirety.
With Microsoft Edge, you can also annotate web pages. You can draw as well as type notes on top of pages. Once you are done with your annotations, you can then save them to OneNote or email them. I think that this could be quite useful especially with the use case of shopping for things online. It could also be useful for website developers who are looking to clearly illustrate things.
In my tests I found that Edge was slightly faster that Internet Explorer in loading pages. However, at the time of publishing this review Edge does not support extensions (e.g. Lastpass).
- The start menu is back
- Annotation and reading mode in Microsoft Edge
- The ability to create multiple virtual desktops
- Improved snapping of windows
- Lack of Windows 10 apps (but that might be fixed with time)
Overall, I would give Windows 10 an 8.5 out of 10. Not only does it bring a lot of new and features to the table, but it also makes things easier to use. Additionally, the improved snapping system and the virtual desktops in task view makes it easier for you to multitask and improve your productivity.
Simply put, Windows 10 is what Windows 8 should have been.
Should you upgrade to Windows 10? Well if you have Windows 8 already installed on your desktop PC, laptop or tablet, then the answer is a definite yes. If you have the “Get Windows 10” app then make sure that you wait until it tells you that you can upgrade. This ensures that you will have a smooth experience when you do install the upgrade.
If you don’t then follow the instructions in this guide. Alternatively if you are tech-savvy then you can create your own installation disk that you can use to effectively jump the waiting line and upgrade right now (after you’re done reading this review of course!). If you own more than one computer running Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 then you can also use this installation disk to upgrade those to Windows 10.
What are your thoughts on Windows 10? Let me know in the comments.