Switching to Windows 10

Have you been wondering if you should switch to Windows 10? The short answer is yes. That may sound surprising since the reception for Windows 8 and now 10 has been a little shaky but quite honestly it’s actually pretty good. You may have been confused about the quick jump from 8 to 10 and you might even wonder what happened to 9. Simply put, Microsoft dropped the ball with Windows 8 and focused too much on making it useful for tablets.

Person holding cell phoneIt quickly gave desktop users a bad taste in their mouth and many chose to stay with Windows 7. Microsoft was in a tough spot at this point. They needed to get the desktop users back on board and to do it they had to do something drastic. In an attempt to get people to try their new release, Microsoft made the decision to give 10 away for free since they knew people would be apprehensive about spending money on it. So far it’s been fairly successful since you still have the option to revert back to your old operating system if you don’t like it. This has given people no reason not to switch to Windows 10.

Changes from Windows 7

Question mark over keyboardThe surprising thing when you switch to Windows 10 from 7 is that there isn’t that much of a difference. Things look different, with the glassy, rounded edges replaced by a more bold, minimalistic design. During first time setup you’ll also notice that it wants you to use a Microsoft account for signing in. This was a change they made with Windows 8 to integrate applications like Onedrive directly into the operating system. If you don’t have a Microsoft account it’s not a bad idea to set one up and check out some of the features. I really enjoy the Onedrive integration for transferring files from my work computer to home without extra applications or using online tools.

Once you get to the desktop things are fairly similar. The traditional taskbar and start button are there but with the addition of a new search box right out front. That’s the new Cortana feature that’s Windows answer to Apple’s Siri. So far I haven’t used it much other than utilizing the traditional search function which is faster and more organized than before. It’s nice they’ve put it out front since I personally like to search for things rather than clicking through menus.

The other big change is the start menu which is now more customizable. To start with you’ll notice it’s packed with all sorts of ‘tiles’ for apps and features. Don’t worry, these can be removed with little work. This new start menu is resizeable and you can pin all your programs files and apps to it for quick launching. You can also break the ‘tiles’ into named groups which I enjoy. I’d say this is my favorite feature after the switch to Windows 10.

Microsoft LogoThe switch from 7 to 10 gives you more modern features that you’re probably already familiar with on your smartphone. Combining those features with better organization the switch to Windows 10 makes it a solid upgrade.

Changes from Windows 8

If you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1 and make the switch to Windows 10 I imagine you’re going to enjoy it like I did. Windows 8 on a desktop was awkward and many things didn’t make any sense. 8.1 solved some of these oversights but the feel was never quite right for a desktop system. Windows 10 took these problems, cut them out and brought back the proper feel we were used to with 7.

The new start menu still has the tiles but it no longer feels like launching a whole new program just to launch your programs. Also the ‘apps’ run more like traditional programs now, contained in regular windows instead of insisting on taking up the entire screen. This was one of the big tablet focused features that I really disliked about Windows 8. Also the moving of the search box to the toolbar makes it far more useful than having it on the start screen.

Overall the switch to Windows 10 will give you the upgraded, slicker looking Windows for PC that we all wanted without the obtrusive tablet functions. A big win for desktop PC users.

New Apps & Features

Regardless of what version you upgrade from when you make the switch to Windows 10, there are some new toys to play with.

Cortana. Cortana came out on the Windows Phone some time ago and and now it’s included with the switch to Windows 10. Personally I haven’t found much use for Cortana but it’s smart that they included it. The use of voice commands has become a standard in mobile computing and it’s about time we get it on our desktops. With a little tweaking you could give voice commands to your television, music player and even find out who played that guy on that show without leaving your couch. Sounds good to me.

Groove Music. iTunes, Google Play and Spotify changed the way we access music with their unlimited access model for a monthly fee. Microsoft quietly released their own version of this service on XBox a few years ago and also as Zune for Windows Phones. With the switch to Windows 10 they rebranded the service as Groove Music and made a new app for it. This comes as the standard music player and it’s not bad. I am a Groove subscriber so it works great for playing any music I want directly from the app without launching a web-browser. If you’re not a Groove music subscriber you’ll probably want to skip this. I recommend switching the default music player back to Windows Media Player since Groove will constantly bug you to sign in if you try and play the odd MP3.

Edge. It was one of the most promoted changes with the switch to Windows 10 but quite frankly it’s probably the least impressive. Microsoft decided to finally kill Internet Explorer and replace it with an all new browser called Edge. The problem is they didn’t kill Explorer and it’s still there. Why? I don’t know. You’d think with all the press they gave this change in the move to Windows 10 they would have least try to hide it.

Group of browser iconsEdge is a modern browser that mimics the style of Chrome and Firefox to the extent there’s no real reason to use it. I’ve tried it and although it works just fine I’m so dug in with Chrome it’s hard to make the switch. The move to Windows 10 is a big enough change for most people and I doubt anyone’s going to go crazy with a whole new browser. Try it out, see what happens but I imagine most people are going to stick with what they’re used to.

Final Thoughts on switching to Windows 10

Class Win3.1 LogoI’d almost go so far to say that Windows 10 is the best version yet. After I made the switch to Windows 10 I felt like they nailed a modern feel, improved the interface and refocused on the needs of desktop users. You may hear from places that you should wait for a major update before making the switch to Windows 10 but personally I think it’s solid enough now to try it out. Even if you hate it you still have the option to revert back to your old version within thirty days. I say go for it. If you’re building your own computer and considering adding Windows 10, you can always get an OEM version from Amazon, that’s usually cheaper than downloading or ordering from Microsoft.