By Alistair Madden
Windows 10, the latest and possibly last operating system from Microsoft, launched on the 29th July. After an extensive period of testing offered to Windows Insiders before the operating system arrived in the consumer station, plus two months since the official release, Palatinate is now in the best position to offer you advice on whether you should upgrade and what new features are available.
To kick off, the start menu is back and better than ever. Not content on reintegrating the menu as a solid wall of text, Microsoft has combined the best feature of Windows 8 and 8.1: live tiles. Purists may sneer, but they display useful contextual information such as weather and news feeds without taking up the whole screen this time.
One difference to the start menu is search functionality, which is now integrated directly into the taskbar itself. Windows 10 even includes a voice recognition assistant, à la Siri, called Cortana, to help you with everyday tasks.
Microsoft has had to strike a balance here to ensure that Windows 10 is just as easy to use for tablet and desktop users. The start menu is customisable and can revert to a full screen tablet mode just as in Windows 8.
For desktop users, multiple desktops finally make their way to Windows. Mac and Linux users may already be familiar with this concept, but imagine having a fresh login with no programs open. This is effectively what happens whenever a new desktop is made, only your programs from the previous desktop remain running. Pretty neat.
Four quarters snap is a feature now included natively, which enables working with several windows open side by side – another tool that boosts productivity, especially amongst users with big screens.
While these new features are great, Mac and Linux supporters will be keen to point out that their operating systems have been supporting multiple desktops for years (in fact, it’s pretty hard to find something you can’t do with Linux). There is no denying this accusation; it feels like Windows has only just caught up to its rivals and still has a long way to go.
This is where a recent shift in the way Microsoft delivers its software could be crucial. Microsoft plans to keep adding features and updates to Windows 10 for the foreseeable future – a departure from the previous strategy of including all new features in a new version of Windows.
Microsoft is offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade for a limited time. Users running Windows 7 or newer operating systems can take advantage of this offer and Microsoft has even provided a hassle free installer, allowing you to retain files and programs through the upgrade. If Windows 10 is not to your taste, there is also an option to revert back to your previous Windows version. Having said that, we still recommend a full backup of your data before upgrading, just in case anything untoward should happen during the installation.
All in all, Windows 10 is a major improvement on Windows 8 and 8.1, and with the ambition of being Microsoft’s last operating system it is only set to get better over time.