Tech pundits the world over in the news and social media were touting the release of the Microsoft Windows 10 operating system for months leading up to its eventual release this week. It’s no surprise after the severe disappointment of Windows 8 that Microsoft decided to vigorously test Windows 10 with its users and listen to their input. If you are already running Windows 7 or 8/8.1 and are happy with what you have, why should you care about upgrading?
First off, it’s free. As a user, you are entitled to a free upgrade if you are running a genuine version of Windows 7 or 8 - that is, you either purchased Windows 7 or 8, or you bought a computer that came with either version pre-installed. If you are unfamiliar with computers, you can find this out by consulting your local computer technician or checking the sticker on your physical computer that tells you what version you are running.
If you are a Windows 8 user, you probably share the disdain every other person has for the Start screen that replaced the beloved and familiar Start Menu from Windows 7 (and previous versions). Well, that worry is over, because Windows 10 heralds the return of the Start Menu - with an option to switch to the Start Screen if you happened to like it.
Upgrading has never been easier. In just a few clicks and following the prompts, Windows 10 more or less installs itself without much interaction. It’s the perfect opportunity to leave the task running overnight so you don’t have to sit and wait. Downgrading to your previous version is also a simple task if Windows 10 doesn’t turn out to be your cup of tea.
Most of your existing apps will continue to work with Windows 10. This has always been a source of contention with previous upgrades to a new version of Windows. I remember the nightmare of upgrading systems from Windows 3.1 to Windows 95. At the time, Windows 95 was revolutionary, but a lot of old applications were incompatible; it was a year before enough apps were available to justify the upgrade. Now you can upgrade to Windows 10 and be assured that most of your mainstream applications will function normally. Even if they don’t, you may only be a quick app update away to alleviate that situation. One rule of thumb is to run the Upgrade Advisor utility prior to running the update.
Internet Explorer (IE) has finally been replaced by a new web browser called Edge. It’s no secret that IE has been the black sheep of the Web-browsing family. With faster, secure and customizable solutions like Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera, IE was left in the dust. Microsoft decided to build Edge from the ground up, burying IE for those who still need it for legacy web app support. Despite its infancy, Edge is already a much-improved experience with more features to come later this year, which will allow it to go head to head with the competition.
The updated Action Center takes one of the best features from mobile platforms and puts all the most commonly used system functions in one easy to reach location. Now you can turn on/off Wi-Fi, sounds, brightness, etc. from a single location.
People who have played the Halo video game series will recognize the new voice of Windows 10 - Cortana. Cortana is like the Siri to Apple’s iOS. Ask Cortana for today’s weather, where to eat, or even to tell you a joke, and she delivers it in a way that outshines Siri. She even integrates nicely with Edge. This marks the first widespread integration of voice assistance into an OS, which may very well take us closer to a future not unlike Minority Report.
No matter what you decide to do, you can’t deny that this is one of Microsoft’s largest endeavours with Windows ever, with a timed worldwide release across 190 countries. Are you going to update today or wait until later?