With the release of Microsoft’s Windows 10, many users of Windows have been or are being offered the chance to upgrade. Windows 10 will be offered to all Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 non volume-license users free of charge…
Once registered for the upgrade, Windows 10 will start downloading – but you’ll get a second chance after download to choose the moment to carry out the install. We strongly recommend at least two verified backups prior to this – ideally a system backup (to allow you to revert back to your current configuration) and a separate, additional file backup for all your documents, photos, videos and work etc.
Should I upgrade today?
Well as is often the case with new versions of any product, we recommend waiting for a sensible period of time, in this case at least a month, to see if there are any “horrors” that will only be discovered once the product is live and out-there. No amount of in-house and beta-testing can compare to the testing the product will get once it’s in the public domain. Every possible combination of hardware, graphics cards, printers and broadband will be thrown at this operating system over the next few weeks and unless you want your productivity to nose-dive, we recommend holding fire unless you have a spare machine to try it on. Of course, we’d never have the mature, stable and reliable products we have today without the early adopters so if you have the chance to try without risking all, go right ahead.
- Windows 10 will no doubt offer many advantages over its previous versions – if you still have Windows XP then you are not part of the upgrade programme, but purchasing a new computer (which is most likely to come with Windows 8.1 at present) will give you the opportunity to experience a faster, more reliable and definitely more secure machine. Just upgrade from 8.1 to 10 as quickly as possible, because the learning curve from XP to 10 will be shorter than from XP to 8.1.
- Windows 8 users will see something they may not have seen in a while – a desktop with start button. Windows 8.1 did bring back a sort of start button, but there were still enough differences to make the leap even from Windows 7 a bit much. Windows 8 tried to be all things to all people and its touch-ready tablet interface just didn’t work out for desktop and non-touch laptop users.
- Windows 10 returns the start button to its former glory, albeit with some improvements. One of these, Continuum, allows a hybrid laptop to determine when it’s docked to its keyboard and mouse – when it is, you get a full desktop and start button – when it’s undocked, you get the touch-friendly tiled interface. This is what Windows 8 should have been.
Two other major additions to Windows 10 make their debut as well – Cortana, the voice recognising personal assistant arrives at the desktop, using technology Microsoft developed for mobiles in competition to Apple’s “Siri” and Edge, a replacement for Internet Explorer.
Cortana can work very well – with phrases like “send an email to ….” being one of our favourites. It is not however a replacement for a PA and certainly not a replacement for a PA who has access to Google.
Edge is a completely re-written browser, from the ground up. What this promises is blistering speed – theoretically rendering modern script-heavy websites even more quickly than Google Chrome but the browser definitely has a “Wet Paint” sign on it and some websites give it a headache, with it freezing and sometimes becoming unresponsive on certain sites. We have no doubt that the next release of Edge will be better than the last, but if you need to use Windows 10 every day, we would definitely recommend keeping another browser (or two!) in your arsenal – this is sound advice on any machine to be honest.
While we don’t think Windows 10 is quite there yet for heavy production use, we know the product will get better and better. Microsoft’s promise that this is “the last version of Windows” is reassuring. Rather than have the Windows development team fragment and move on to another product, they’ll be concentrating on improving the current version, with updates released via Windows Update. Expect to see rapid improvements and we are sure most of the “teething problems” in Windows 10 to be fixed in short order, even if they don’t affect you from day one. Additional features will be added this way as well, but no one is sure of the commercial decisions Microsoft will make. Sure, Windows 10 is free now, but will you need to pay a subscription later to continue to receive the new features? We suspect the lessons of Office 365 will be applied – which on balance is probably a good thing as it will continue to drive quality and reduce the amount of old, hackable code out in the wild.
If you want to upgrade your existing machine, we recommend waiting a short time, but if you are buying a new or have a spare machine, take Windows 10 for spin.