Right now, roughly nine out of every 10 computer users are on Windows. Considering that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for those on Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 (which is roughly 75 per cent of total global PC users), you can call Win 10 a winner already. But that’s just because of the numbers. In actual usage, Windows 10 won’t radically change how you use technology.
Watch video of Windows 10 First Impressions (App users click here for video)
A Truly Cross-Device OS?
Windows 10 comes with the proposition of being the first truly cross-device operating system (OS), an OS that works seamlessly on mobiles, tablets and computers. This doesn’t mean the Windows 10 you install on a PC is the Windows Phone 10 you install on a handset; it just means that Microsoft expects you to transition from one device to another smoothly.
That’s a great idea. Most of us would love to have an operating system which does that. But well, over 80 per cent of the world’s mobile users are on Android, and Microsoft itself is busy cutting its phone hardware business. Remember, Microsoft bought the biggest Windows Phone manufacturer, Nokia, so this means there isn’t any major partner who now specialises in making Windows Phone handsets.
So we have a cross-device OS, but no smartphones to actually take advantage of that. And honestly, at this point, it seems pretty silly to even think of buying a Windows Phone.
Industry watcher Tomi Ahonen, whose predictions about Microsoft, Windows Phone and Nokia have usually been spot on, had this to say: “Windows Phone side of Windows 10, I would not count on much R&D involvement on this dead path. The next Windows version (I would suggest it might be called Windows 11) will no longer bother to support handsets, only tablets and PCs.”
Windows 10 isn’t the “truly cross-device operating system”, as much as Microsoft would like you to believe that.
One Step Forward, Two Steps Back
Windows 10 has a problem of trying to be everything for everybody. It wants to keep its legacy users intact, but it also wants to become a new, cool OS built for the future.
“The Windows 10 team looked at how they could engineer for a operating system that could last for the multitude of devices that are existing today and a multitude that will come into existence in the future,” said Vineet Durani, Director Windows Business Group at Microsoft India.
Yet, on the desktop, Microsoft is bringing back some old features like the Start Menu, which was removed in Windows 8. If you’re an existing Windows user, you’ll feel right at home. Honestly, not much is different, except for a few cosmetic changes.
There’s a new “Edge” browser to replace Internet Explorer. Because that’s what you wanted from Microsoft, right? Microsoft is unaware of a world with Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox or Opera. Edge is apparently what makes you happy to get Windows 10. Wake up, MS!
“Windows 10 pretends that there does not exist today an equally huge, and far more relevant, installed base of mobile devices that already has millions of apps people use every single day over and over,” Adam Hartung writes in Forbes.
“Microsoft pretended as if there is no world other than Windows, and that a more robust Windows is something people can’t wait to use! We all can’t wait to go back to an exclusive Microsoft world, using Windows, Office, the new Spartan browser – and creating documents, spreadsheets and even presentations using Office, with those hundreds of complex features (anyone know how to make a pivot table?) on our phones!”
I’ve been using Windows 10’s preview versions for a few months now, and it feels and behaves mostly like Windows 8.1. Yes, it looks a bit different, but not dramatically different—remember, Microsoft wants to keep those nine out of 10 users happy.
In the end, the free Windows 10 update makes a lot of sense because if it wasn’t free, there is actually no compelling reason to pay for an upgrade.
Windows 10 Is More of the Same, and That’s Okay
None of this is to say that Windows 10 is a bad operating system. It refines what you already got in Windows 8, adds a few notable features like the voice-activated computer assistant Cortana (which isn’t yet available in India and will be released in the near future), and generally seems more stable than Windows 8 did. But it’s not revolutionary.
And there’s nothing wrong with that. You should download Windows 10, if it’s a free upgrade and your specs meet the requirements. But know that it’s just another Windows.
This isn’t the system that lets you change from one device to another without missing a beat. This isn’t the OS that radically changes computing. This isn’t going to make your life far easier than it was. It’s just another OS. And that’s okay.