Microsoft_Windows_10Windows 10 was released at the end of July. Those of us who like to jump in early, have had a chance to kick the tires and run it around the track. The interesting thing at this point in its release cycle is actually the silence. And in this case, I think the silence is good. There is no backlash going on and no hype in the media about how much people are hating it. At this point in the Windows 8 release, there was quite an uproar.

The lack of negativity makes it feel like there is less information in general. That is unfortunate, because the news about Windows 10 is good.

Here are The 10 Things You Should Know About Windows 10.

1. The START button is back in full color. I know, some of you are doing a jig in your seats! The START button does all it did before, but now adds in the Windows 8 tiles in a way that respects both desktop and tablet users. Right next to the START button sits the search bar so you can quickly find whatever you are looking for. In addition, Windows 10 is device aware and can automatically slip into tiled mode on your touch tablet or phone if this is what you desire.

2. It is faster in every way. Microsoft often says their new version is faster, and in this case, it really lives up to its billing. On hardware we have tested, after upgrading, boot time is faster, shutdown is faster, and it seems to multi-task and switch between applications faster.

3. You will adjust quickly to this new platform. Whether you are a Windows 7 or Windows 8 user, the change is not that dramatic. If you are switching from Windows 8, you will quickly get used to using the START button again. Some controls are in different places, but mostly setting and config controls. New features are intuitive. Most people like Windows 10 after upgrading, and don’t really have to adjust their daily computer habits.

4. There are privacy concerns but not that much different than you might have with Google and Apple. When you use your Windows 10 machine, it tracks a Marketing ID and shares your searches and habits with advertisers who customize their advertising to your habits. This sounds familiar. Google makes its money this way by tracking cookies and other searches you make when logged into your account. You can turn this functionality and other functionality off, but you do lose some features. There are some experts who believe this might create an issue with HIPAA or SOX compliance, but I am not convinced, at least not yet.

5. Cortana really is smarter than Siri. You may have seen the ads where Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant consistently outwits Siri. Right now, these ads really are true. You can ask Cortana for the weather, a restaurant recommendation, a song, a joke, how long it will take you to get home, and more. She has good answers, unlike Siri who at least at my last try didn’t understand what I was asking for. I suspect this will change quickly.

6. Your battery will last longer. If you are using a laptop, tablet, or phone, the battery consistently lasts longer. It is that simple, Windows 10 manages power usage better.

7. Microsoft has added a new Internet browser called Edge. This is the default browser with Windows 10. It works well, and Microsoft is calling it their last browser. It reportedly will auto-update forever and never have a new “version release” as Internet Explorer did. If you need it, Explorer 11 is still there lurking in the background and you can install Chrome and other browsers too.

8. Yes, the upgrade is free. It is free for a year from release date, and it is relatively easy to install. There were early talks of Microsoft charging a subscription fee for updates, but they are saying that is not the case now and that updates will always be free. In a corporate environment, it is always recommended that you test out the upgrade on a test unit before moving forward. Free and easy does not always mean flawless.

9. Compatibility is VERY good. Ninety percent of the time the applications and hardware work without a problem. We have experienced a few driver problems that have been mostly correctable, and heard of one or two older pieces of software that had some issues on the new platform.

10. This is a stable new version of Windows. The software upgrade is free, the compatibility is good, and the user experience is good. In most cases, it makes sense to upgrade. Keep in mind, on your company network, there are lots of other things to consider. Even though the upgrade installs well, it is a project to upgrade a large number of computers. Testing is a must to insure you don’t leave a critical application, printer, scanner, or other hardware behind.

Windows 10 is a solid choice for home and business users who want to stay current. The fact that it is free makes it even more attractive. Microsoft has made it cross-platform friendly so that it operates well on phones, tablets, and desktops. However, until the Microsoft store catches up to Apple and Google, Windows 10 will remain mostly a desktop and laptop operating system.

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