When Microsoft released Windows 10 Preview to Windows Insiders, I was first on the bandwagon. I downloaded and tested it on my Surface 3 immediately, playing with every feature I could. In my day-to-day usage consisting of email, web browsing and using applications such as Word, Excel and PowerPoint, I found the system operated well, with a number of expected bumps along the way; all of which I reported back to Microsoft through the appropriate channels. Overall, I found Windows 10 to be a welcome improvement from previous versions, and I loved having the Start menu back.
After using Windows 10 Preview for a few days, my list of issues began to pile up. My biggest issue was with incompatible drivers for peripherals, such as my second monitor, printer and Bluetooth speaker, which is a critical element in my office. For me, the tipping point came when I was on stage for a presentation and could not get the projector connected. Fortunately, the technical staff were able to run a second machine to save me, but this forced me to subsequently remove Windows 10 Preview, as I couldn’t run the risk of not being able to use external projectors as I do a fair amount of public speaking.
When Microsoft released Windows 10 on July 29, 2015, I was first in the proverbial line to get my upgrade, anxious to see what changes Microsoft had made following the feedback cycles. I was impressed to see that my suggestions around navigation, ease of use, and a few bugs had all been changed. Of course, I would like to think these were all my suggestions, but I’m sure there were thousands of the same issues being logged.
Procedurally, the upgrade to the released version of Windows 10 ran smoothly and without error in just over 40 minutes. Once complete, I had a now familiar user interface and all of my technical information and connections, such as email configuration and OneDrive content; something anyone who has had these connections broken during an upgrade can appreciate. Following a positive upgrade, I was waiting for a few issues to occur, which they did, particularly in the customization areas where I had spent time previously configuring things to my liking. Below I’ve listed some features that will require some additional time to customize following your upgrade.
Given the previous Windows 7 and 8.1 interface, the best way to describe the Start menu is a blend between the old Windows XP menu and the tile modes. You now have the ability to tap the Windows key on the taskbar and see small tiles for each application. Because Windows 10 migrates your applications via bulk import, they unfortunately do not maintain the groupings in your previous Windows 7 or 8.1 interface. You will have to spend time regrouping based on your interests and setup requirements. I found this to be a good opportunity to purge some applications that I was no longer using.
You’ll have to get used to the new Task View button, placed on the task bar to the right of the Start menu button. Functionally, the task bar visually shows each of the open programs on your machine in one consolidated view, offering frequently used applications on the top and others below. An additional function to the popular ALT+TAB control, Task View doesn’t require you to hold down any keys on the keyboard, but it allows you to click the button and take your time scrolling through your programs.
Though many people using Windows 10 thought that Microsoft would include search in the Start menu, it is not. Rather, you can find the Search icon to the right of the Start menu button on the task bar. Once you select search, you have the opportunity to categorize your search by apps, files, settings and the web. The Search icon also has a Feedback option that you can use to provide product feedback directly to Microsoft.
Settings is your new Control Panel, where you will find many of the common utilities you’re used to like adding printers or personalizing your experience. Don’t confuse Settings with the Action Center, which is also a handy place to manage your machine. Many of the features included in Settings are fundamental to your overall experience, and the things you’ll want to adjust most often; such as screen resolution, wireless connection and Bluetooth settings. You’ll receive notifications in Settings when new email arrives, which for me is a feature I’ll miss from Windows 8.1, which allowed an on-screen notification to pop up for the same purpose.
Overall, Microsoft has impressed me with many of the features included in Windows 10; the feature are smart, intuitive and allow for a great overall experience for users. Windows 10 is easily the most consistent and easy-to-use operating system I have seen in a very long time and Microsoft has done a fantastic job blending the old with the new.