Windows. A literal cornerstone of the computer world for more than 25 years, the digital age we live in now depends on this humble operating system. Its age makes us familiar with it. Its widespread use makes it easy to get help from friends, professionals, coworkers and family when we need support.
Most of us rely on it, for work, for entertainment, for family. For more than we care to admit, when you think about it. The figures don’t lie about just how many “most of us” really is.
|Desktop/Laptop operating system browsing statistics|
|Apple OS X||8.18%|
Wikipedia – 29/10/2015
Just because more of us use Windows than the other options out there, it doesn’t mean that Microsoft themselves can rest on their laurels. Tech users have become savvier out of necessity, and I’m not talking Millennials or GenY, who have been digital natives since birth.
These days you’ll find 60 year olds reconnecting with family overseas, spending hours on Skype with their loved ones. 50 Year olds are Netflixing Game of Thrones, Narcos, and more, while your average 40 year old is connected and living online 24/7.
The world is really spinning towards more tech, not less. Apple and Android are closing the gap, evolving the operating systems they use day by day as more people turn to their phones and tablets. But the Desktop and laptop markets are stronger than ever, sales figures proving that traditional computing isn’t dying, it’s evolving.
Which leads us to now.
This is the Year of Microsoft. Being under siege like never before from all sides, fighting to keep that massive market share they’ve wielded for over two decades, Microsoft have come out of the fray with guns blazing. Their secret weapon? Windows 10.
You’ve likely seen the little bubble in the corner of your screen, the “Upgrade Free” tagline.
We know you have questions. So let’s get started.
Is It Really Free?
The short answer is Yes. The Marketing team at Microsoft looked around and realized that the best way they could ensure that everyone used it was to give it away… well, for the first year, at least. After that, it will go to its normal pricing structure.
If you have Windows 7 or 8, you can get a completely free copy of 10 for the first half of 2016. Sorry, XP and Vista users, your computers just won’t be quite up to snuff. The upgrade can be run from the self-installing icon on your screen, or from the Internet. While the automated install isn’t guaranteed to work 100% of the time, it’s pretty reliable. If it doesn’t work, best to ask someone to come do it for you. And of course, if you don’t like Windows 10, you have a month to decide if you want to go back to 7 or 8.
Looks of 7, Brains of 8.
The current iteration of Windows is at first glance a sleeker looking Windows 7, with its similar layout and familiar Start menu. Something which garners a general stern nod of approval from most folks, especially if you ever used Windows 8.
Interestingly, it lacks the problems that were inherent with Windows 7, such as the eventual inevitable slow-down, or the sometimes unreliable backup system.
That’s because it’s got the bone structure, skeleton and beating heart of Windows 8, which was the part of that operating system that was actually a vast improvement over 7.
This gives you a “best of both worlds” scenario.
Still early days
Like all major computer updates, there has been a fair amount of teething issues but Microsoft is working vigilantly to solve them.
With the first three months of Windows 10 now in the past, all the usual suspects for weird and unusual activity have been identified, and technicians will now know the drill if things start to go haywire.
Is it faster?
Without a doubt. On current technology, it’s like lightning. Solid state hard drives, and multi-core processors will have your NZ Herald homepage in front of you in less than 12 seconds from being turned on, reliably.
Windows 10 is really built to take advantage of our joy in not waiting for webpages.
On old machines, it is still not sluggish at all. Most laptops which came with Windows 7 or 8 will soar faster with 10 at the helm.
Will my stuff work?
As of this moment, most things work. It’s when it comes to specialist software that it becomes a tricky question to answer. If you have bespoke programs for your work, it’s a safe bet that the if the software company is up to date you will be fine, but always check or by calling us first. If you have much older software, it’s possible that Windows 10 will be too advanced, and you should really get in touch with the company who made it for reassurance
The Thing About Data
With more things moving to the ‘Cloud’ and streaming media more common daily, its safe to say that the move towards having more data on hand is smart, and Windows 10 makes no bones about it. It handles its own updates, and it’s really designed to be always connected. Gone are the days where 20GB data plans with your local telco will cut the mustard. Thankfully, the move to unlimited data is easier, and cheaper than it’s ever been. If you’re on Windows 10, or planning on it, heading that way is a solid plan.
Meet the Task Master
Windows 10 Task View is its virtual desktop mode. While it’s an unfamiliar interface and will take you a bit of time to get the hang of, in the end it’s going to make your life easier! If you’re a mad multi-tasker like me, you’ve got multiple apps open – as many as can fit in your window, but most of them remain minimised or unopened. If you need to work with more apps simultaneously, you could buy another monitor, money bags, or you can use Task View. It doesn’t really minimize your unused apps; rather it hides that entire screen of apps, keeping everything nice and tidy. Big deal? Task View has its pros: it allows you to multi-task more efficiently by creating separate virtual desktops – allowing you to stay on track with your work, but to check in on social media at the same time without rearranging your apps. You just flip back and forth with the right arrow – magic!
Cortana: Your *Future* Digital Assistant
Ah Cortana! She’s the personal assistant you’ve always wanted but could never afford! And while she hasn’t quite landed in New Zealand, when she does, you won’t be able to live without her. As your indispensable personal assistant, Cortana will go through every part of your digital life, helping you manage your calendar, locations, and emails and more – she’s truly indispensable.
By tapping Cortana at the beginning of your day she can tell you everything you need to know: what’s happening in the news, what you can expect from the weather, any scheduled appointments or meetings, and even relevant local interests. From taking dictation, sending you updates, tracking your purchases to reminding you about important birthdays, when Cortana comes to NZ, we’ll let you know.
Wait there’s more! Windows 10 can offer you the following:
- Unify devices: You can connect your Xbox One with your PC with your Windows Phone with your tablet! This means you’ll be able to access your work and any personal files from any of your Windows devices, whether you’re out on the town or away from the office on your home PC. Windows 10 also includes a new app to help you set your phone up to work with your PC and all the Microsoft services you use like Skype, Office and OneDrive.
- Continuous updates: Who doesn’t love a free update? With Windows 10 all updates will roll-out continually over time, much like the Apple OS X. Better watch yourselves, Apple! This positions Windows as a “service platform”, rather than a piece of new software.
- Gamers: Windows 10 includes the latest version of Microsoft’s graphics API, making games that much more awesome to play with some major performance improvements. Some existing graphics cards sill still work with the system too, so don’t worry. And this isn’t just good news for gamers: Direct3D apps will speed up too. But back to the gamers: Xbox One is also getting an update so it can play better with Windows desktop PCs. Users will now be able to stream Xbox One games to their PC, and… cross-platform multiplayer is being introduced! It’s about time…
Windows 10 is here, and it looks to be with us for the long haul. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be supported into the 2020’s, but the writing is on the wall – sometime soon, Windows 10 will be the norm. Jumping in to it can be pain free, but if you do have problems our Geeks can sort it all for you.