By Paul Gorski
It is no secret the Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system was not well received when it was released almost three years ago. Ever since then Microsoft has been working to fix the Windows 8 items that irritated Windows users the most. Windows 10, to be released on July 29, 2015, is the culmination of those efforts. After spending a few months with the pre-release versions of Windows 10, I think most Windows users will be happy with the upgrade.
To be clear, Windows 8 is not necessarily broken, but the look and feel took a drastic turn from Windows 7, Vista and XP and threw many users into a frenzy.
First, and it seems like a minor thing to me, but the “Start” menu is back. It was restored in Windows 8.1, but it is back in full force and truer to the old Start menu. The Start menu never made much sense to me (why go to the Start menu to stop the computer) but its removal from Windows 8 was one of the top complaints Windows 8 users had.
Second, Microsoft went to a largely touch screen interface with Windows 8, and that irritated old-school desktop and non-touch screen laptop users. Windows 10 now features a nice balance between a traditional desktop look and feel and a touch screen interface. You see this right away when you get to your desktop or main screen. Standard desktop menus are there and the touch-design buttons or tiles are there too, just a bit smaller and not so much in your face.
The Windows 10 interface for the most part is clean-looking, professional, and easy to follow. There are some odd throwbacks to Windows 7-type menus as you get deeper into system preferences and the like, but that is a minor quibble.
Best of all, Windows 10 is fast, and fast on older equipment. That’s a bit odd, as Windows 10 is supposed to help revive Microsoft’s lagging OEM operating sales (for new PCs) but since Windows 10 runs so well on old equipment, some users may simply upgrade their operating systems and not buy a new desktop or laptop.
Many traditional technology reviews are touting the new Edge browser and Cortana assistant in Windows: bah. Performance and customer support impress me more than gimmicky system add-ons. I’ve been testing Windows 10 for months now and the performance has steadily improved and it is clear that Microsoft is listening to its customer base as tweaks and changes were constantly being made to Windows based on user feedback. The result is an operating system most Windows users will be perfectly happy upgrading to or using on a new laptop or desktop computer.
But there’s the rub, Windows 10 is designed to run on laptops, desktops, tablets and Windows phones, for a perfectly integrated computing universe. However, other than Microsoft’s own Surface tablets/laptops/convertibles, there’s not much of a Windows tablet market and the Windows phone market is nearly non-existent. Android OS dominates the low-end of tablet and smartphone sales, and Apple dominates the top tier of those same markets. I’m not sure how Microsoft can make any substantial gains in those markets.
Windows 10 is a solid operating system upgrade, but it will only be successful if sales of the Microsoft Surface line of computers, and its Windows competitors, grows substantially in short period of time. However, recent PC sales figures have been disappointing, with the notable exception of Apple’s MacBook and MacBook Pro lines of computers, which of course doesn’t help out Microsoft. By the way, the updated MacBook Pros rock!
If you want a preview of Windows 10, do not review any of the videos of the technical preview versions posted on YouTube. Windows 10 changed so much through the various technical preview versions; the final version is much better. Visit Microsoft’s own site for a good preview of Windows 10: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/features.
Paul Gorski (www.paulgorski.com) has been a technology manager nearly 20 years, specializing in workflow solutions for printing, publishing and advertising computer users. Originally destined to be a chemist, his interest in computers began in college when he wrote a program to analyze data from lab instruments he hard-wired to the back of an Apple IIe.