With all the hype and excitement around Windows 10, it’s easy to get caught up in the commotion and lose focus of the real importance of upgrading. After all, the whole point of going through the upgrade process is to use a new platform that will enhance your capabilities with all the new functionality it contains. Sadly, I have seen too many customers implement a system-wide upgrade only to have version issues with existing, mission-critical applications and a lack of training for their employees. Remember, the interest of the business user may only be to use the platform that will provide the best, and speediest, functionality.
The good news is that help is out there, and my hope is that this article, as well as the others available on itunity.com will assist you in creating the strategy and structure for organizational success deploying Windows 10. Whether your interests are for yourself or for an entire organization, understanding the functionality available to you is paramount in your upgrade decision.
It is important to note that the upgrade to Windows 10 is free, yes, that’s right, free. Users currently on Windows 7 and Windows 8 can upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost. From a business perspective, this is an interesting move by Microsoft, indicating that there is no monetization from desktop software. While this puts pressure on the cloud-first, mobile-first world, it also reduces the heavyweight installations of the past. I can still remember lining up at the store to purchase my first version of Windows 95, a huge box in hand and a spare few hundred dollars to spend. Wow, how times have changed! In today’s digital economy, purchases are made in seconds through a small, lightweight app, and a few dollars are exchanged.
Windows 10 boasts a number of functional enhancements over previous versions, highlighted by the reappearance of the Start menu as well as the initial release of Cortana in a desktop product. Here are the top 5 must-use features of Microsoft’s latest operating system that the business user should know about.
- The Start menu is back! The Start menu, a fixture of Windows for decades, is being formally reintroduced in Windows 10. This is a huge inclusion for many reasons; none the least of which is the fact that it was user feedback that ensured the Start menu would appear again. Microsoft received an “unprecedented” amount of feedback from Windows 8 and 8.1 users that the missing Start menu was an issue for them. Anyone who has used a Microsoft product knows of the purpose of the Start menu, the central navigation component of the operating system.
As a user with a touch-enabled device (Surface 3) I have found the Windows key on my keyboard to be the source of navigation for my use, but that is frankly a work-around until the Start menu is back. When I’m in the office, my Surface is connected to a docking station, therefore I use my external mouse and keyboard, rarely touching the screen itself. If the Start menu did exist, I suppose I would use it more, but not having it onboard doesn’t hurt my productivity. When I’m running off my Surface independently, I do use the touch screen more, and going back to the home screen to find an application can be a struggle. Having the Start menu back will be a huge asset for users, as well as a training coo, as manuals can be written with standard commands setting clear expectations.
- The “old” interface returns to Windows 10, too. When Microsoft released Windows 8, the interface changed as well, causing headaches for users who were familiar with navigating previous products. One way Microsoft tried to offer an adapted version was incorporating a “classic view” mode for things like the Control Panel, where users primarily go to control larger components of the software. For users who are now accustomed to the tiles, and live tiles, Windows 10 presents a combined interface with the Start menu popping open to reveal your most-used applications, your “life at a glance,” which combines your mail and Cortana apps with social and anything immediately relevant, as well as self-controlled work and entertainment panels; all of which are fully customizable.
- Integration of Cortana. First released for Windows Phone 8.1 in April 2014, Cortana was Microsoft’s first attempt at incorporating an intelligent personal assistant into a device. From my perspective, Cortana is awesome, and I am happy this functionality is included in Windows 10. The integration of an assistant allows for voice or typed commands, such as requesting a meeting to be scheduled, or search for a specific item or element quickly and easily. The opportunities here are endless, as Cortana’s capabilities extend to help desktop users through their daily tasks.
- Windows 10 comes out of the “virtual” box with a brand new Internet browser, Microsoft Edge. With the days of Internet Explorer now behind us, Microsoft Edge boasts a number of speed enhancements and functional improvements, such as the ability for users to type notes directly on specific Web pages, and also includes sharing and reading options such as sending the article to other users. I’m looking forward to creating reading lists and continuing writing on my Surface, something I’ve done since I first reviewed a PowerPoint presentation on the device a year ago.
- Windowing aka multi-snap. I believe the average user will use the multi-snap option frequently. This functionality allows the user to snap an application into one of the four corners of the screen. In previous versions of Windows, users can snap apps left and right of the screen, providing a two-screen interface. In a previous article on this functionality, I discussed how 50 percent of the users presently using Windows 8 were utilizing the current side-by-side dual window environment. As the functionality becomes more popular and people begin to realize the capabilities, I firmly believe the usage figures will increase.
Regardless of your specific interests or intended usage, there is no doubt in my mind that business users will win when they upgrade to Windows 10. I for one can’t wait to hear the feedback from the community abroad and continue to watch Microsoft moved toward the future of computing.