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Windows 10 – Should I Upgrade?

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Windows 10 Available as a Free Upgrade

If you are an existing Windows user, by now many of you will have probably noticed the icon in your systray (the icons in the bottom right of your screen) inviting you to “Get Windows 10”. This is a prompt for you to reserve your free upgrade, expected to launch on July 29th 2015.

Microsoft announced its plans in 2014, so the launch of Windows 10 has been some time in the planning. In essence, Windows 10 is the next generation of Windows 8 and will operate (in slightly different forms) across PCs, laptops, tablet computers and smartphones. The fact that Microsoft has claimed that there will be the same interface across all devices, whether 4” or widescreen monitor, will give users confidence.

One thing is clear, Microsoft has learnt some harsh lessons from the failure of Windows 8. At launch, Windows 10’s predecessor received a decidedly tepid reaction, in the main as a result of its focus on touchscreen devices and the lack of a start menu.

Microsoft seem to have addressed this, with Windows 10 far more friendly for enterprise users (yes people still use keyboards and mice!) whilst still being optimised for touchscreens.

In addition, a huge amount of beta-testing has been completed with Microsoft claiming that over 4 million people have tested it globally.

 

Can I Upgrade?

For Windows 7, Windows 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 users, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for a year from launch. Windows 8.1 users should have no problems in upgrading, but Windows 7 users will need to ensure that they meet with following system requirements:

  • 1 GHz or faster
  • RAM: 1 GB (32-bit) or 2 GB (64-bit)
  • Free hard disk space: 16 GB
  • Graphics card: Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with WDDM driver
  • A Microsoft account and Internet access

For Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, clicking the icon in the systray (‘Get Windows 10’) allows you to reserve your free copy of Windows 10 following launch. It is worth noting that Microsoft have confirmed that it will be free for the life of the product, although there is no evidence that Microsoft’s initial free upgrade period will be extended.

 

So, what does Windows 10 look like and should you upgrade?

Start Menu

The first thing users will notice is that the start menu has made a welcome return. Along with standard Windows and Office software, the start menu can also be used to access the multitude of available Windows Apps. This gives Windows 10 a feel of Windows 8 about it, but the similarities pretty much end there.

The start menu is Windows 10 has some useful improvements, namely frequently used applications, shortcuts and document folders. It can also be customised to your preference with the functionality to resize and rearrange the tabs.

The tiles from Windows 8 are retained and these can be used to not only pin tiles but also specific aspects of apps themselves.

Windows 10 desktop Windows 10 start menu

Goodbye Internet Explorer!

Although Internet Explorer is still the most widely-used browser globally, its market share is increasingly eroded and it has had rather a bad press over recent times. Windows 10 brings a brand-new browser, Microsoft Edge, which has some useful additions.

Depending on which browser you use, you may be aware of reading mode which basically just displays the page content. As well as this, Microsoft Edge gives users the functionality to highlight content and annotate before sharing with others (as the image below shows!).

Windows 10 Microsoft Edge IEHowever, Microsoft Edge is not as polished as other browsers and we expect that many people will turn to third-party browsers such as Google Chrome.

Multiple Desktops

Windows 10 has emulated a popular feature from another operating system through the introduction of multiple desktops, referred to as virtual desktops.

A task view button allows you to see an overview of your desktops and these can be configured with multiple apps as required. For example, you could have separate work desktop and personal desktops, or have email and online activity hidden away on a separate desktop while you concentrate on producing that report which is so pressing.

Windows 10 multiple desktopsImproved Search

Windows 10 makes search easy through a search button on the taskbar. Both the search and file explorer – shown below – display recent files and accessed folders. This should help to make search faster and more efficient for most users and save having to add favourites or pin items to the taskbar.

File explorer is shown below with the ‘Quick access’ and recent files area.

Windows 10 file explorer

Snap Assist

Windows 8 brought a new feature called Snap Assist which allowed two applications to be fixed to half the screen each. With Windows 10, up to four applications can be snapped to a screen, taking multitasking to a whole new level for users without dual displays.

Snap Assist goes one better than this though. When a document is snapped to one side of the screen, it will suggest other items you may want to snap next to it.

 

Universal Apps

In essence, Universal Apps is Microsoft’s concept to make the development of apps to run across all Microsoft devices unified. For developers, this is significant as it will mean that applications need only be development for Windows 10 once, saying the need for multiple projects (e.g. for mobile, tablet, PC, etc).

From the users perspective, this should lead to an increased in the number of available apps, with these being available sooner as a result of the simplified development cycle.

 

Summary

Windows 10 is a significant upgrade on Windows 8 and it seems more aligned with the hugely-successful Windows 7.

There are likely to be a great number of updates as the operating system is adopted, and the security features are bound to be significantly tested over the months ahead.

However, if you are in any doubt about the suitability of the product for your organisation and you would like to discuss it in more detail with our IT support team, contact us on 01732 762675.