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Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the design community. As editor of MCADCafe, Jeff brings extensive hands-on experience with many design and production software products, and bases his commentary on these products and services as a true end user, and not baseless marketing hype. He can be reached at 719.221.1867 or firstname.lastname@example.org. « Less
Jeffrey Rowe has more than 40 years of experience in all aspects of industrial design, mechanical engineering, and manufacturing. On the publishing side, he has written well over 1,000 articles for CAD, CAM, CAE, and other technical publications, as well as consulting in many capacities in the … More »
Windows 10: Are You In? The Jury’s Out.
July 30th, 2015 by Jeff Rowe
If there is anything I detest more than upgrading software, it’s upgrading an operating system. OK, now I’ve said it . . .
Yesterday was a day just like any other, except a new operating system, Windows 10, was officially launched. Was it the dawn of a new day for Microsoft, or a yawn like any other day? More importantly, are you going to jump on the bandwagon or get in the back of the bus to see if it’s worth the effort?
I haven’t heard of many users clamoring for this release, and Microsoft hasn’t exactly had the trumpets blaring and proclaiming the birth of its new baby. Why is this happening (or not)?
Below is a brief overview of the new Windows 10 operating system that became available as a free upgrade (to some, but not all users) starting July 29th.
As the new Windows 10 was prepared for public launch yesterday, Microsoft oddly, wasn’t really talking about it much before, during, or after the launch. However, there sure have been a flurry of patches available from Microsoft the past few days and weeks.
It will be free to certain users (more about that later); has elements of Windows 7 and 8.1; and will affect desktop, mobile, and Xbox platforms.
Unclear is exactly what existing technology Windows 10 will and will not work with. This uncertainty is certainly bound to put a lot of people off upgrading, at least right away. Even Microsoft’s “official” forums don’t agree on this vital issue. No one really knows whether your PC will be ready, and you won’t either until after you upgrade. If too many problems occur, you have an out (also discussed later).
Windows 10 has been in a Beta/test cycle since last October, and according to Microsoft, “Millions of people are already using Windows 10,” but, of course, this could mean anything.
For those of us who had no time, interest, stomach or a combination of all for the Beta, we have to rely on the experience and advice of others to decide for ourselves. Based on Microsoft’s Q&A, its official blog that covers Windows 10, I checked it out to try and find some answers.
So, what’s new in Windows 10? Although a bit more subtle on the graphics and color palette, it continues to evolve as an app-like UI/UX, actually a progression of the approach that began with Windows 8.
Based on popular demand that brought back the Start button in Windows 8.1 after it was removed from Windows 8, in Windows 10, when you click it, a Start menu is displayed with recent and favorite software apps and programs.
To the Start button’s right is a feature called the “Ask me anything” spot with Cortana, a Siri-like digital assistant that is supposed to transform your voice commands into actions. I hope it’s better “educated” than Siri.
For improved security, there is Windows Hello, which doesn’t use passwords because they are inherently insecure. Instead, Windows Hello verifies your identity using biometrics such as your face, iris in your eye, and fingerprints. To use this feature, though, you will need special hardware such as a fingerprint reader or camera for facial recognition.
Once you are recognized and approved in Windows 10, there’s Microsoft Passport that authenticates who you are based on the approved device and biometric, and then can grant you password-free access to your apps, software, and online accounts.
A new browser that is replacing Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, lets you jot notes onscreen and share them.
Windows 10 Preview
You’ve seen some of the things you will gain with Windows 10, now, what will you lose? On the Windows 10 specification page is a list of features that will disappear, although Microsoft is quick to add that this could change, mindful of the debacle when they removed the beloved Start button. That’s commitment!? Some of the major things going away include:
Always a concern – will 10 work with older Microsoft software (such as Office) and device drivers? In other words, is my software investment protected or will I be forced to upgrade? Microsoft is staying especially quiet on this one and not really making any promises here.
According to Microsoft, theoretically, Windows 7 and 8 users, should be OK, and existing software and hardware should work in Windows 10. As in the past, though, and to shield itself, the company line seems to be, “With the significant changes in Windows 10, it is best that you contact the software developer and hardware vendor to find out about support for Windows 10.”
Hasn’t that always been the way? Microsoft: “It’s the problem of the hardware/software vendor, so check with them.” Hardware/software vendor: “It’s Microsoft’s problem, so check with them. Bottom line: It’s either nobody’s or everybody’s fault – it’s usually up to the user to determine where the problem really lies and solve it with a minimum of wasted time.
With regard to sticking with your current version of Windows instead of immediately moving to 10, Microsoft is letting you decide for yourself, to a point. By this I mean Windows 10 is free, if you’re upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1, or Windows Mobile 8.1. Otherwise, it’s $120 for the Home version or $200 for the Pro version.
Keep in mind, too, that all together there are mobile/tablet version and desktop versions, so multiple purchases for different platforms for basically the same thing might be forced on you.
This cost thing is an issue for me, as I’m sure it is (or will be) for many Windows customers. There are several versions/distributions of Linux available for free; and while Mac’s OS used to cost $129 to upgrade, that price dropped to $19.99, and the newest upgrade, Yosemite, is free. I know it’s not exactly apples and apples (sorry for the pun), but an OS is an OS, and I think Microsoft’s price is high for what you are getting.
If you’re ready, willing, able, and eligible and haven’t blocked Windows notifications, there is an alert at the bottom right of your Windows desktop that says you can upgrade to Windows 10. If you do this, Windows 10 will download automatically. If you’re still on the fence as to whether to pull the trigger, that’s OK because you have a year to upgrade for free, if you so choose.
According to Microsoft, upgrading to Windows 10 could take an hour, but of course, this could vary widely/widly based on a number of things. In other words, “Your mileage may vary.”
During the upgrade, Windows will preserve anti-virus and anti-malware software that you have installed, and if you don’t have a current subscription to any security software, Microsoft will install its Windows Defender as part of the deal for free.
If you decide to take the plunge with Windows 10, you need to do a couple things. If you have a newer PC, everything probably will work as expected after upgrading to Windows 10. But like anything that is computer related of this magnitude, ALWAYS back up files and perform a compatibility check. If any incompatibilities are found, you should definitely wait until the software and/or hardware manufacturers upgrade and resolve the incompatible stuff.
Don’t like how Windows 10 looks, feels, or behaves? According to Microsoft you have 30 days to go back to your old Windows – 7 or 8.1. Don’t you love options?
An amusing short chronological history of Windows follows from a fellow skeptical person who probably will not be among the first to try out Windows 10, but you never know:
Interestingly, none of the hardware (with the exception of Dell, and HP) or CAD/CAM/CAE software vendors I spoke with were in any hurry to be Windows 10 compatible. This isn’t really too surprising as even recent hardware evaluations we have conducted have arrived with Windows 7 installed. Having experienced this, I don’t expect a huge rush to Windows 10 by either hardware or software vendors anytime soon, at least not this year.
So, what do you think of Windows 10 – boom, bust, who cares, or wait and see? Let us know.
Is Windows 10 really the dawn of a new day for Microsoft? Although I’m somewhat skeptical right now, it could be a good thing. However, the recurring cost thing annoys me, and personally am in no hurry to install it myself, but am willing to hold off judgement until we see how it is perceived, received, installed, and used by the PC, mobile, and Xbox universe.
Learn more about and download the free Windows 10 upgrade at windows.com.