by André Thomas
The release of Windows 10 is quickly approaching. If you’re using Windows 7 or 8.1, you have possibly already noticed a new icon in your system tray prompting you to reserve your free upgrade to Windows 10. This is truly a free upgrade for the first year from release for current genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users. When it releases July 29, 2015, your system will schedule the upgrade for you, that is if you reserve your copy. Here’s a few things you may want to know before reserving that copy.
We’ve been playing with Windows 10 since the Technical Preview was released months ago and have been extremely impressed. We’re looking forward to helping you get the most benefit out of your system, whether that means upgrading right away or waiting a little while.
There are definitely changes coming in regards to Windows 10 including speed, capability, security, and stability. Whether you’re use to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, it’s a different approach, though an easy switch for both. Here are some of the major shifts to be ready for:
We’ve seen a lot of changes to the start button in the last few years. Windows 10 might give us the best of both worlds in an intuitive, easy to use structure.We keep the Tiles aspect of Windows 8.x and regain an easier to navigate “All Apps” feature or traditional Start Menu similar to Windows 7 and before. Basically, this should have been how the Windows 8 Start Option should have been, and we’re happy that Microsoft has finally listened to that. Another impressive feature is that it automatically adjusts to a full-screen mode on tablets or convertible systems when used in tablet mode. It can also be manually switched to full-screen which may be extremely useful for touch enabled devices, or for the handful of users who did fall in love with how things were done in Windows 8.x.
Cortana, the personal digital assistant, released with the update to Windows 8.1 Phone edition, is integrated into Windows 10 and brings desktops and laptops more inline with other popular platforms end users rely on today. This is a huge update to the voice activated features in previous versions of Windows as you are able to talk naturally to Cortana. Our one concern with this is… “is she always listening?” If so, you might not want to have your computer in your bedroom, or the bathroom (or figure out how to disable to mic at the very least).
Cortana also learns who you are, how you speak, and adapts to you. This information is then stored in your Microsoft Account which can be linked to all the Microsoft devices you utilize that are “friends” with Cortana. If you’re concerned about privacy, and “big brother”, this is something to be aware of, as like any good assistant, she wants access to your entire life – contacts, calendar, location, etc. So until we see the full impact of it later, and it’s clear how the information is shared, or not shared, you might want to wait on enabling her.
Internet Explorer is on its way out. While it will still be included in Windows 10, it will no longer be the default browser. That honor is now bestowed upon Microsoft Edge.
It is designed to be a simpler, more streamlined, and a more secure browser. Its clean lines and new reading mode, which expands the “article” or blog post on the screen and hides extra content, make for a much more enjoyable experience, though they are still working on this as for multi-page blog posts, you have to close out of the reading mode, click the next page, then re-open reading mode.
What’s missing are the ActiveX controls and Browser Helper Objects (BHO) from Internet Explorer 11. While this could prove problematic for some businesses, the change is a welcome one for the security of your system.
Xbox Live, or Xbox for your computer, is a huge leap forward in the gaming universe, finally crossing the desktop/console barrier. With Windows 10 you’ll be able to compete against console gamers and with a connected Xbox One, you can use your computer for recording gameplay or as a streaming point for your game. While these features will only work with a limited number of titles and only in Xbox Live supported countries, the field will grow quickly.
Microsoft has said that they are working on better cross-platform integration, meaning that if you have the app on your desktop or laptop, they are working so you can also have that app functional on your mobile or tablet device, or vice versa… though that won’t be fully completed by the initial release of Windows 10.