By George Rosenthal
Windows 10 is on its way. The Microsoft upgrade should be available for use in late July.
A preview look indicates there is much to like about this upgrade, especially for users of Windows 7.
First this upgrade is free. No longer is there a $50 or $100 fee. Microsoft wants to spread the system across all devices including not only PCs but smartphones and others. The goal is to get the app community excited about the new system and create more features and more usage long term. They hope the no-charge upgrade will do just that.
Users will have more options and a more friendly experience than with Windows 8
You can log in to Windows 10 with a Microsoft account, like you would with an iPhone or MAC with an Apple account. This enables a variety of desktop settings to sync with your PCs. You will be able to use the OneDrive Client and other new features, like the Windows Store, but you will need a Microsoft account to make it all work.
Should you choose not to use the Microsoft account you can link in without it. The option exists to add this at a later date.
The Start menu has a new look. Similar to Windows 8 live tiles are featured to click through the work process. If the tiles confuse you they can easily be removed with a right click.
The menu still has all the usual features you would expect. These include a list of all your installed applications and power options for shutting down or restarting your device. It can be resized by moving the mouse around the edges of the screen.
Microsoft has included a number of “universal apps” which run in windows on the desktop. You can visit the Windows Store and download whichever additional apps you choose.
Those familiar with the PC settings app on Windows 8 will find an enhanced settings app on Windows 10. It is designed to be more user friendly as you configure your computer.
Refresh and Reset options found in Windows 8 make the transition to Windows 10. You can get your computer to like new status without having to actually re-install the Windows system.
Missing is the ability to automatically disable Windows updates. This has been left off Windows 10 Home systems. An upgrade to Windows 10 professional will be necessary for this function.
Users will also notice a change in the Windows taskbar. The Start button was removed from Windows 8 but returns to “10” in a more predominant way. A “search the web and windows field” can launch Microsoft’s Cortana assistant. A Task View Button provides an overview of all your open windows and virtual desktop features. These are automatically enabled but can be removed with a right click and hide option.
Gone is Internet Explorer. It is no longer the default browser though businesses can still find it and use it. Microsoft has a new updated version called Edge. It should provide enhanced performance. Those who prefer Chrome or Firefox can still install them and use them as they normally would.
Microsoft has added more desktop and security improvements. These include Windows Defender, found on Windows 8, which replaces Microsoft Security Essentials. SmartScreen attempts to block harmful and unknown file downloads from harming your computer.
Additional enhancements include Game DVR functionality for recording and streaming PC games. A number of low level tweaks ensure the system uses less disk space, boots faster and protects better against attacks.
Overall Windows 10 is a nice upgrade from Windows 8. Windows 7 users will find it a more comfortable experience than navigating through Windows 8.
Still, it remains to be seen if it is the panacea Microsoft is hoping for to deflect Apple’s iOS and others from making inroads into the large and profitable business marketplace.