Knowledge

Trying out Windows 10

Published on August 26, 2015 under Technology

Windows 10 logo

When it comes to technology, I tend to be a bit conservative. This goes for any gadget I buy and any kind of web technology I choose to learn. My conservative nature on technology is why I don’t own a smartwatch, or why I’m reluctant on a “wired” automobile. It’s also why I took my time before choosing to learn languages such as PHP, and platforms such as Bootstrap or Drupal.

It’s also no secret I use Windows. I’m sure I’ve talked of it here in my blog, and if it makes you think less of me for not “drinking the Kool-Aid” (using a Mac) then that’s your loss. I’ve just been comfortable with the operating system since 3.1, and haven’t found a reason to jump ship for Apple or Linux.

With that said, I’ve still maintained a conservative view when it comes to major Windows updates. When I was on Windows 95, I waited a year to update to Windows 98, and then skipped the failed Windows Me to use Windows XP. Even then, I still waited until Service Pack 1 came out for XP. This same logic also applied to when I moved to Windows 7, skipping over Windows Vista.

When Microsoft released Windows 10, I was so fascinated with the reports that I didn’t want to wait. I decided to throw caution to the wind and update one of my computers, a ThinkPad W530. Despite what some claim as “failings”, I was quite impressed with Windows 10 and could clearly see where MS is going with it.

A lot of mobile thinking

Windows 10 Start MenuAt first look, you would think the developers simply combined the best aspects of Windows 7 and Windows 8 into one, and there is truth to that. There is a lot of “mobile thinking” in Windows 10. I’m not speaking in terms of your computer suddenly becoming a smartphone or tablet, but more in that Microsoft is attempting to get us to use our computers the way we do our mobile devices.

The new Start Menu is one spot, as it contains space for the live tiles first introduced in Windows 8. You’re free to customize them as you choose for quick linking to popular software, email alerts, and even feeds of articles and social media. The updated notification structure also screams “mobile thinking” as I’ll see the small messages pop out from the right telling me of updates or whatever I want Windows to notify me of.

The slide out control panel is helpful as well. Makes it much easier to get to the items you normally go into the system tray for. I even like the button that allows the user to go “tablet mode”, which really makes Windows 10 look and act more like Windows 8, for those who really liked that setup.

The speed is everything

I had to call this one out because it’s the single most biggest factor that really impressed me with Windows 10. From the first moment I booted up my ThinkPad with Windows 10, I’ve been continually amazed at how much faster the system loads compared to any previous version of Windows I ever used.

I’ll put it into this perspective...on Windows 7 my laptop would take around 1 1/2 to 2 minutes to fully boot up and be ready for use. On Windows 10, I’d be at my desktop in 20 seconds!

Beyond the fast boot, the whole system is remarkably faster and way more responsive. Software loads faster and internal items work nicely. With all the talk of how this OS will work even on old Windows XP machines, my brother and I are curious how it will perform on our mother’s old desktop.

Some shortcomings

Windows 10 Privacy settingsLike any big change in Windows (or any OS for that matter), there will be issues. Biggest on the list is the vast amount of privacy infringement Windows 10 would like to have on our lives. While I don’t sign on to any “tin foil hat” conspiracy theories, I did turn off all the settings many articles pointed out for users so.

My reasons are more practical. I’m not a fan of any OS constantly sending sharing information with remote sources, mainly out of fear of performance issues. The Macs we use at work will crash at least once a month due to similar cloud services my employer uses to interconnect and monitor performance of the machines. Maybe the average user won’t notice, but when running resource-hungry programs such as Photoshop or Traktor, small things can cause big problems.

The cutting off of Microsoft in my privacy settings has also disabled their digital assistant, Cortana, from being used. It’s kind of an ultimatum...give Microsoft access to your behaviors and browser history and you can use Cortana. Thus I cannot write if Cortana is great or not since I can’t use her. Still, I’m not sure if I would even use her if I had access. I currently don’t use Google Now, and I didn’t use Siri on my iPhones in the past.

I’ll also forewarn anyone upgrading that you might have some programs “not play nicely” with the update, but I have not seen it where programs will not work at all. I bring this up because it seems Microsoft altered its file structure for software (aka “apps”) with Windows 10. After updating I noticed Adobe Creative Cloud was unable to update programs, claiming they could not be found. I ended up uninstalling and reinstalling my Adobe software and thus everything is working perfectly.

Lastly, I had one performance hiccup, but it was only once. Funny enough, this happened on the “maiden voyage” of my Windows 10 update. I had reached the Desktop and suddenly everything froze. I joked that it wasn’t a good first impression, and thus did a hard restart. Thankfully, I have not seen this problem replicate, so I’ll assume it was just a fluke.

Conclusions

Despite the shortcomings, I really like Windows 10, and will give it a month before updating my other machines. Performance and speed are a vast improvement over Windows 7, and that sold me right from the get-go. Beyond that one Adobe fluke, all my software runs perfectly on the system and thus I see no fear in moving on from Windows 7.

The “mobile thinking” put into the OS is interesting, but I’m still trying to figure out what to make of it all. However, this has been the case of every new refresh I’ve seen of Windows, Android, iOS and even MacOS. New features are put in, but it takes time for the user to decide how he/she wants to utilize them. Just because I don’t fully use my laptop the way I use my smartphone or tablet doesn’t mean others will. Already the weather app is handy, so I’ll give Windows 10 some time.

Have you tried Windows 10 yet? What did you think?

Tags: technology, windows, microsoft, windows 10

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