If you own a Windows 7 or Windows 8 PC, your machine has probably already notified you that a free upgrade to Windows 10, Microsoft's newest operating system, will soon be available to you. July 29 is the official roll-out date, but it will probably take days or weeks after that date for every eligible PC owner to receive their copy.
It's unusual for Microsoft to give away their software, but they are still stinging from the chilly public reception Vista and Windows 8 received, so perhaps this is their way of making amends!
I have been testing the new version of Windows for several months, and I've been impressed. So have the critics. It looks like Microsoft finally got it right.
You won't be forced to upgrade, but I'd suggest you consider doing so, maybe this fall, after some of the bugs in the new system have been discovered and patched.
Why should you upgrade? In addition to being more secure and efficient, here are some of the top features of Windows 10 that make adopting the new system attractive:
1) THE START BUTTON IS BACK!
Microsoft took a huge amount of heat for removing the familiar, useful Start Button in Windows 8. Due to huge popular demand, it is now back in its familiar role. As you can see from the image , however, some of the "look" of Windows 8 is also present, e.g. the large, colorful tiles. Essentially, Microsoft is trying to incorporate the best of both worlds in their new operating system.
2) GET THE EDGE
The venerable Internet Explorer web browser has been redesigned and replaced by Edge. You don't have to use it, as IE will still be an available option on your computer, but the new browser has advantages
including a nifty feature where you can annotate (draw or type on) any web page and share it with friends or family. A good example might be a customized map, heavily annotate with your notes and scribblings, that you then electronically share with friends and/or family to help them get to that family reunion.
Apple has Siri, the electronic personal assistant built into iPhones and iPads. Android devices have Google Now. Microsoft has now entered the game with Cortana, their version of what a personal assistant should be like. It can be set to respond to voice commands (e.g. "Hey, Cortana!") to answer any question, keep reminders for you, etc.
4) VIRTUAL DESKTOPS
Have you ever had several windows open on your screen, and had trouble manipulating them all? Enter virtual desktops. When turned on, you can have one desktop that holds, let's say, all your Word documents that you're working on, have a separate desktop that displays your web browser. and a third for displaying your current solitaire game. You can switch back and forth between desktops with ease. It's like having three (or more) monitors hooked up to one PC. Handy!
5) NOTIFICATION PANEL
Borrowing from the smart phone and tablet feature set, Microsoft has built in a handy, easily-accessible notification panel that provides you with the latest announcements regarding your schedule, incoming email, updated apps, and any other notifications you care to receive. At the bottom of the panel is a hand set of buttons that allow quick access to common settings (see example)
All in all, Windows 10 looks pretty good. The library will probably switch over to Windows 10 on our public computers very gradually to give everyone time to get used to the new system.
Thanks for reading.