After years of development and with input from a community of over 5 million testers, Microsoft has finally launched Windows 10. I was lucky enough to be one of those testers as part of the Windows Insider program, so I thought I'd share with you some of the things I have learnt whilst using it and some of the important facts about upgrading.
My initial impression is that it is a significant improvement to Windows 7 and 8.1. It installed quickly, it seems impressively quick on a machine that isn't particularly high spec, it is easier to use and feels more stable. I also enjoyed having a hybrid start menu that combines the best of both Windows 7 and 8.1.
There will be six versions of Windows 10:
- Mobile Enterprise
One of the biggest drivers behind the development of Windows 10 is the introduction of universal apps. As I'm sure you will know (probably due to your lack of use of it) Windows 8 introduced the Microsoft Store, but it was a bit of a flop. The upgrade looks to revitalise this by allowing you to purchase apps that will work not only on your desktop, but also your tablet and mobile as well (not to mention your IoT devices, Xbox, Surface Hub and HoloLens - should you choose to invest in them!). Not only does this make things more seamless for you, the end user, it also helps the software developers as they only have to create one version of their app to run across the different platforms. The consequence of this is that hopefully there will be a lot more choice for the consumer.
One of the main new features of Windows 10 will be the end of Internet Explorer and the introduction of a new browser known as Edge. Whilst it still fulfils the basic needs of an internet browser (i.e. you can read web pages), it also has a funky new feature that allows you to annotate the content using sticky notes and highlighters. You can then send these on to other people or save for future reference. In all honesty I'm not sure how useful this will be in the general scheme of things, but I can imagine it will be handy for some people.
The other feature worth talking about is your new personal assistant Cortana. For those of you that have a reasonably new iDevice you won't be surprised to hear that Cortana works along the same lines as Apple's Siri. Ask Cortana to set you a reminder or look up a contact and she will do this. For most other tasks Cortana simply responds with a Bing search, and at the moment there is no option to change to your own preferred search engine. However, I'm sure with future updates, new functionality will be added which will make Cortana even more helpful.
Existing Windows 7 or 8.1 users - with the exception of Enterprise editions - will be entitled to a free upgrade to Windows 10 for 12 months from the release date. If you aren't on a business network then you should have already seen the notification in your task bar, but if not you should check in Control Panel that your machine is up to date with Windows Update (and that includes updating Windows 8 to Windows 8.1). If you are on a business network then you should discuss with your IT department or IT Support provider how the upgrade will be planned.
The support life cycle of Windows 10 is the same as previous versions in that there will be mainstream support for five years and a further five years extended support following that. That means that everyone that upgrades for free from Windows 7 or 8.1 will continue to get updates until 2025 rather than the life cycle published previously for those operating systems.
The free upgrade to Windows 10 is only on offer for the first 12 months so even though it is wise not to upgrade straight away, you should take advantage of this within the next year. However, be sure to check all your software is supported on the new platform first, if not you may find yourself having to pay for the upgrade.
Windows 10 will also see a change to the way updates are delivered. Home users will be forced to update and, to a certain extent, so will business users (although they will be able to delay this in order to ensure compatibility). As long as your hardware supports them the updates will keep coming. This has been branded as "Windows as a service" and is likely to include more significant updates in terms of the user interface and new features rather than just the monthly security updates and bug fixes with a service pack once every couple of years. The first major update is already planned for later this year which will probably include a significant improvement to the Edge browser.
If you have chosen to upgrade as soon as possible, your desktop may have already started to download the update in the background, or it may start over the next few days and weeks depending on how fast Microsoft push out the new system. Windows will let you know when it is ready and take you through the process of updating step by step.
If you want to find out any more about Windows 10 or any other aspect of IT, please don't hesitate to get in touch with the team at Resolve who will be glad to assist you in any way we can. If you are a business, read how we suggest you deal with the windows 10 upgrade here: http://bit.ly/1SmAw8s