July 29th: Windows 10 is released

July 29th: Windows 10 is released

It’s no secret that Windows 8 wasn’t the best received update of all time.

Windows had banked on touch screens becoming universally adopted, so the Windows 8 start menu had been designed with this in mind. On tablets, the tiled start menu was user-friendly and well received – but on laptops and PCs, with the majority of users still using a mouse and keyboard, the interface was downright frustrating.

The result was terrible for Microsoft; users and developers alike slated the system. With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft are hoping to fix all that.

Today, the Windows 10 upgrade has become available. If you have a genuine copy Windows 7 or 8 already, this upgrade will be available for free for one year. Users without Windows 7/8, or who try to upgrade after one year, will have to pay £99 for the upgrade.
 

A Quick Word on Costings

The wording of the free upgrade ‘for one year’ has caused confusion in the tech community, with many asking – what happens after a year? Will it become a subscription service? Will I be unable to use my PC unless I pay the £99?

This rumour has been debunked by Forbes magazine. Microsoft have pledged to keep Windows 10 free to their loyal customer base:

“This is more than a one-time upgrade: once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device – at no cost.” — Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Executive Vice President of Operating Systems.

So, the charge after one year is just a way of encouraging customers to make the upgrade sooner rather than later; not a sneaky way of forcing hidden costs upon us!
 

What to expect from Windows 10

The start menu is back!

The start menu is back!

Start Menu

The main change is the layout of the Start Menu. This will incorporate the best aspects of both Windows 7 and Windows 8. Instead of taking you to a new, full-screen menu, the Start Menu will appear in the bottom left-hand corner, as it has in older Windows versions. The Live Tiles introduced in Windows 8 have been kept, but will no longer take up the entire monitor. Settings, files, shut down, and the program/app list will all be much more easily accessible.

Hot Corners

Windows 8 relied heavily on ‘hot corners’, where you swipe in the corner to access screens. This worked great for tablets, but caused endless frustration for anybody with a mouse or touchpad. This has now been replaced on Windows 10 with a new Action Centre (accessible by clicking on the speech bubble in the task bar). This will be a notification centre and provide easy access to a variety of settings.

Snap Assist

Multi-tasking and switching between apps will be much easier on Windows 10. This allows you to pull programs to one side of the screen and view them side by side, effectively giving you two monitors.

Cortana and Google Calendar

Microsoft have also made a huge step towards a fully integrated platform that flows over mobile, tablet, laptop and desktop. Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated assistant, has been added to the start page, and is particularly useful for finding files on your local drive. Google Calendar is also synced to Windows 10.

Edge

Edge is Microsoft’s new browser, aimed as a modern take on Internet Explorer. While this is fully functioning, most reviews have been less than thrilled. Gripes include difficulty in dragging tabs into new windows, downloads saving automatically without any choice of where they’re stored, lack of browser extensions and – most annoyingly – changing the default search. Microsoft really doesn’t want you to use Google instead of Bing. More annoyingly, changing your default browser to Chrome, Firefox, etc. is hidden away deep in settings.
 

Overall

Windows 10 is a definite step up from Windows 8, and worth the free upgrade. Microsoft are taking good steps in accepting customer feedback to improve their products. It will be interesting to see the new direction they are taking with this being the ‘final’ version of Windows (from now on, it will only be updates – we’ll see how this plays out!)

With this much improved OS, it could be the step that takes Windows away from being the default, cheap option that customers ‘have’ to use, and into being a product that people truly enjoy.

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