Two weeks ago, Windows 10 was released in over 190 countries, but is it any better than its predecessor, Windows 8? Windows 8 was (in my own words) “utterly garbage”; it was more fitting for a dog than a computer operating system. Has Windows 10 managed to seduce existing users who are now migrating to Mac and Chromebooks, or is this just all over-hyped hot air?
Since I made the migration to Windows 10 (of course I did!) a few weeks ago, my excitement was at fever-pitch when I finally abandoned the shambolic Windows 8.1. As a media worker that’s always on the move, I was ready to see if Windows 10 made my media life much easier – or just far worse!
1. “New” Start button
One of the things I disliked a lot about Windows 8 was the “Start” button, which took you to the “Metro” user interface with the tiles surrounding you. It was more fitting for touchscreens than a PC (stating the obvious), so what’s new about the bottom-left of your PC/laptop screen now?
To put it simply, Windows 10 pays homage to Windows 7 and 8 by combining the two to create a much improved button. However, there’s one catch if you want to go back to the Windows 7 experience and that’s taking all the tiles off. While there are ways of taking the Windows 8 Metro tiles off the Windows 10 start button, the most time-consuming way of doing it is by ‘unpinning’ them off the start menu until you have a tile-free start menu, which is very annoying.
2. Microsoft Edge
Since most of my browsing is done on Google Chrome, I haven’t really paid much attention to Microsoft’s equivalent Internet Explorer for quite a few years because of how many times it would crash. But Microsoft have really sharpened up their latest effort with Edge.
Whilst it’ll never be used as much as Chrome, Microsoft have managed to create an easier browsing experience with Edge. No more of the days where you’d spend hours waiting for a webpage to load and suddenly crash! There’s also more optimisation with Bing, which is Microsoft‘s take on the Californian giant Google‘s search engine. However, Bing isn’t in the same league as Google, so it’s going to take some convincing for Windows users to convert (note: it won’t happen).
Named after the character in XBOX‘s FPS spectacular Halo, Cortana was first introduced as a voice assistant for Windows Phone software 8.1. However, she’s made her appearance on Windows 10 in the hope that we’ll never have to click onto an icon again (hopefully).
There is a problem when you first have her and that’s if the microphone on your laptop or PC is inadequate and cannot pick up your voice, then Cortana is a no-go. However, this is not Microsoft‘s fault as it depends wholly on the manufacturer of your PC and the specifications for your machine.
It does pick up commands relatively well when the right hardware is in place, however. One problem with Cortana, though, is that if you request to play some music, it can take a couple of attempts to get her to play your chosen track. Nonetheless, it is a very useful feature when it works, and one that has a stamp of futuristic tech all over it.
4. Virtual desktop
A long-awaited feature (already featured in Mac and Linux), Windows 10 includes the ‘virtual desktop’, which means that no matter how many programmes are running on your PC or laptop, you can click the ‘task view’ button. This means you can add as many ‘new desktops’ as you wish to make your personal and work life much simpler.
Personally, I feel this is a feature that should have been built into Windows 7 and 8, but it’s nice to see the Microsoft software engineers finally building it into Windows 10. For me, as someone who’s constantly working on my laptop, the simple one click of the task view button means I can switch to different programmes seamlessly, and it just feels more organic this way.
Better late than never, the virtual desktop is a welcome addition to Windows 10.
Since I have had the company of Windows 10 for two weeks on my laptop, I can say it’s a welcome improvement on Windows 8. With a whole raft of new features, it’s one of the best Windows OSs since Windows 7.
For someone that’s always working, the virtual desktop and Cortana features are incredibly useful; if I have to remember something to do during the week, I can ask Cortana to book that in my calendar, and changing seamlessly from one job to another is now effortless. Windows 10 is a useful piece of software for casual and hardcore browsers, and workers alike.
As a media worker, Windows 10 is a step-up, but if you’re working in television, photography or website or graphic design, then a Mac is definitely still recommended. That’s not to say Windows can’t handle these tasks, it’s just that Macs are tailored to these types of data-intensive jobs.
Windows 10 is leaps and bounds ahead of Windows 8, but it does suffer with some minor problems. Whether that is customising the Start menu or Cortana failing to pick up on some commands, it goes without saying that there are still areas that need work. It remains to be seen if updates will improve the user experience over a long period, but it’s a good start to the Windows 10 era.
What’re your views on Windows 10? Let us know in the comments section!