Windows 10: First Impressions

Windows 10...

I decided to become an early adopter of Windows 10 when it was recently released. Most IT professionals would be more cautious given Microsoft’s history of poor releases. However I was rather optimistic, mostly because of Windows 8.1. I was impressed with it thinking Microsoft had finally learnt from past failures and gotten their development process right.

Win8.1 was a step forward for Microsoft; it ran faster, booted quicker, required less disk space, had better driver support and personally, I was a fan of the new full screen start menu. Instead of wading through a tree hierarchy to find your app, they were all available immediately!

Unfortunately it turns out my optimism for Win10 was a bit misplaced. Whilst it’s a good OS, it’s far from polished. It seems like a rushed job, where the aim was to get a ‘minimally viable product’ out to market as soon as possible, rather than release something complete.

Now my take on Win10 in this post is going to be slanted towards business users, who have a fairly narrow use case. They predominantly spend their time in Office applications or a web browser. They have no need or desire to use say, Cortana (Win version of Siri).

Upon installation of Win10 one of the first things I noticed was that you can’t switch off automatic updates. Really?

Sure, in a perfect world where updates always make things better, this is great (Apple generally does this pretty well with iOS). But Microsoft has a terrible track record when it comes to updates. So far, not all updates have gone down well. Usually I would have critical/important updates installed, but not bother with ‘recommended updates’. This is no longer an option. It seems Microsoft is busy rolling out updates too.

The other problem with these automatic updates is they tend to break things until you restart and the updates fully install. Most of the time I wasn’t aware an update had been installed and was pending a restart. But I had instances where my track pad stopped working and applications became unstable.

Then there’s the privacy concerns with Win10. Fortunately most of these can be altered through the settings, but the default settings seem quite intrusive. While you can switch most of these off, you will lose some functionality.

There’s also been a few minor issues I’ve come across, which further points to the unfinished state of the OS. The calculator for example doesn’t always shut down properly, so when I try to run it again it does nothing. My Run dialogue box (Start> Run) stopped retaining recently run programs. The system ‘Settings’ area keeps hanging. Windows sounds somehow re-enabled itself after I switched it off, though switching it off the second time seems to have stuck.

So with all that considered, is Win10 a flop? No, it’s actually a good OS, moving towards iOS style OS releases. It just needs some work to iron out some wrinkles. With forced updates, hopefully some improvement will follow shortly. But having updated from Win8.1, which I felt was a mature and reliable product, I have been disappointed with the issues I’m having.

My advice for anyone who is yet to update is simple. If you have Win8.1, you might want to wait while MS brings it up to scratch, there isn’t much to gain for you. But if you’re running Win7 or anything earlier than I would recommend the update to Win10. Its definitely a step up, though it will take some getting used to and you will want to customise it to your liking.

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