By Peggy Pope
Owner of CAppTech Computers
Anticipation mounts over the coming release of the newest member of the Microsoft Operating System family, Windows 10. It is the cure-all for the disappointing Windows 8/8.1 as a more user-friendly interface with the reintroduction of an enhanced start button and menu including adjacent “live tiles”, or changeable Metro Apps, that can unfold additional tiles to full screen.
Slated to launch July 29, Windows 10 is a free upgrade for those with a valid Windows 7 SP1 or 8.1 license, upgrade from 8 to 8.1 necessary, and a suggested retail price of $119 for Home edition and $199 for Pro edition for earlier versions of Windows. You will have a year from the launch date to install once you have reserved your copy. For more information and facts go to Windows FAQ & Tips at https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/windows-10-faq.
Microsoft stresses this does not mean Windows 10 is ‘free for one year’ it means those who upgrade to Windows 10 within one year after the launch will have it free for life. However, a mandatory updates and OS upgrades or no service patches/fixes policy make it unclear if a fee will be required in the future, Microsoft is not saying at this point, but you have a year from the launch date to install, so time may tell.
Eligible recipients for the free upgrade should see a white “Get Windows 10” app at the bottom right taskbar. When you click onto the app a notice appears giving instructions to reserve your copy of Windows 10. You will be notified later when the upgrade is available. It may be a while though as the install is designated first to Windows Insiders, testers, then in waves to the public.
If you don’t see the app it may be possible your Windows updates are turned off. You can check Windows update settings by going to Control Panel, Windows Update, then to the left for Change Settings, go to Important Updates and choose Install Updates Automatically. The offer comes as Windows update KB3035583.
If installed and you decide you don’t want Windows 10, you will be able to revert to your earlier operating system. Once installed and you decide to stay with the upgrade it is advisable to create restore discs or make a drive image that you can use to restore your PC in case the unthinkable happens; you might also want to make recovery disks of your current OS before installing 10.
Why 10 and not 9? Microsoft has not said but there are many theories and among the more noteworthy suggest a conflict regarding script with legacy versions 95 and 98, a positive correlation with binary 1 & 0, another theorist humored because 7 ate 9 and so on… but some hint how 10, being the last Windows operating system as we know it, named appropriately from 1 to 10 with 10 being best…
Yes, Windows 10 will be the last major launch of the Windows platform with continual upgrades, including innovations & new features, and releases or updates on a schedule – again, future fees (years down the road) may apply as a possible service based model as opposed to a piece of software you buy and more or less leave alone until the next model. There won’t be a Windows 11, 12 or 13 and so on, but the platform will evolve over time.
Microsoft’s ultimate goal is for “one Windows” running across all devices so you can jump from PC to phone to Surface Hub, a large videoconferencing touchscreen, to HoloLens, a very promising hologram/virtual reality headset, and Xbox. Windows 8 was basically the crossover prompting 10’s “live tiles” parallel to the Start Menu. Microsoft did not slouch on new features to 10 either.
Besides the return of the sorely missed start button and menu, 10 has an enriched Search bar and added something new to PC’s, Cortana, familiar in Windows Phone.
Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana, is incorporated into Windows 10 and you can interact by either type or voice command via a mic. She can assist you with Windows, deliver news, weather or traffic alerts, direct music sharing across your devices, access quick information from local, other devices or the web, forward reminders from your phone to PC, keep track of your calendar and adapt behavior to you from whichever device you’re using all while remembering the context of what you’ve asked for.
Speak naturally to Cortana about anything, she can chat, get information and do things for you. The more she helps and learns about you or your preferences the better she gets but you’re always in control of what Cortana knows and manages. To get started with Cortana, just type a question in the search box on the taskbar or select the microphone icon and talk to her.
Cortana is also incorporated in Microsoft’s Edge, the new default browser for Windows 10. Edge promises to be a simpler and faster web surfing experience than its predecessor, Internet Explorer. It has a built-in note-taking mode so you can save and annotate webpages and a reading mode that strips away unwanted content when reading an article; that I am looking forward to.
With Cortana integrated into Edge, located in the address bar, and searching online she will subtly make herself known such as display information on what you’re looking at or give coupon suggestions while at a retailer’s site; should be helpful during the holidays. You’ll be able to select and ‘Ask Cortana’ about what you’ve highlighted by right-clicking, this brings up a sidebar where search results will appear. Through Edge, Cortana will enable you to search by type or voice commands and she’ll even add information to your Cortana profile.
Reviews indicate that although Windows 10 is not quite perfected, typical with a new OS, it’s a work in progress but even as work in progress goes it’s stunning and that after 8/8.1, Windows 10 is like meeting a great friend you once knew, only better.
Microsoft has certainly been busy and things look very promising for the future of Windows 10. You might want to wait a while to install after reserving your copy though just to make sure the bugs have been ironed out and what, if any, news on possible future fees as Windows evolves but with all the exciting new features and favorable reviews I choose 10. The upgrade is, of course, up to you but Microsoft recommends those with Windows 8.1 to upgrade to 10.