Windows 10 is upon us. Across the world, PC users are mulling over whether they should move on to the new version of the operating system they end up staring into for most of the day. It is also a question of disrupting lives, after all who wants to move out of their comfort zone, even if it is a virtual one. Not all OS upgrades have been smooth affairs and a lot of people have regretted the effort, only to realise that features that made their life simpler have been removed or restructured in someone else’s infinite wisdom.
But the Windows 10 upgrade promises to be simpler and easier to manage. It will also be the last OS upgrade you will do, if Microsoft is to be believed. The Windows 10 operating system will now strive to keep itself updated on a daily basis, thus negating the need for a large upgrade.
Before I tell you what my first impressions of Microsoft Windows 10 are, I have a confession to make. I was lucky enough to have go a sneak peek into Windows 8 months before it was launched in 2012. I was impressed with what I saw, especially the design and lively Metro tiles.
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Now, having to use an Windows 8.1 for over 10 hours in office everyday, I have different thoughts about everything that this version gave me as new. In fact, my usage of a Windows 8.1 device is a tactful skirting of all those features, including the Live tiles, and an attempt to stay well within familiar territory. So my hope with Windows 10 is that it makes me use the operating system to the best of its abilities, without scaring me away.
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Here are my first impressions, having tinkered with the new OS for around a week.
What I like?
The start button is back: Bowing before the pressures of the collective muscle memory of millions of user, Microsoft bought back the Start button on Windows 8.1. Now, Redmond seems to have realised the power and positive energy vested in that left hand corner of the PC screen, which they tried to negate with Windows 8. On Windows 10, the Start button is like the command and control centre. You will go here more often than you did with the earlier Start buttons and it helps that this version is far more intuitive and well designed.
Edge browser: Like most of us, I too discovered the Internet on Internet Explorer. But of late, I go there only if there is no other option, as is the case with some government and bank websites. For me, IE had refused to move with time. But Edge is something else. It is minimalist, it is fast and it is light.
But even as I hope Microsoft opens up to the possibility of adding apps on their new browser, I am more than happy to get the annotate feature on this browser. Everything this feature offers — mark, highlight, crop and share — is of immense use to me as a user.
Search bar: The search bar is now pinned to the bottom band on your screen. And while it is a search that can take you to Bing, it is also the Run search that we used to bank to find something from within the PC. The search natively understands when it needs to take you to the web and when it can give you results from within.
Flexibility: It is not rocket science, as many OEMs have had this feature ever since convertibles started becoming popular, but Windows 10 recognises the fact that it is running on unconventional devices. So when you tear away the keyboard of a 2-in-1, the OS asks you if you want to go into tablet mode. If you yoke the keyboard back, it will ask you whether you want to use it in PC mode. The tablet mode here means the Live tile UI that you are by now familiar with. But I guess we can live with that on a touch only interface.
What I don’t like?
Where is Cortana? Well, having an Indian CEO does not seem to have made much of a difference to Microsoft, for the one feature any Windows users in India would have wanted to try out first is not there for now. Yes, Windows Insiders will get to speak to Cortana and pick her brains, but lesser mortals will have to wait at least a month to put this intelligent digital assistant to work.
And given Microsoft’s reluctance, or inability, to adapt her to Indian conditions, I will not stick my neck out and say Cortana will be here in September. But it beats me why you would want to hold back your best feature from anyone.
For now, Windows 10 looks like a cleaner, easier-to-use iteration of what is still the world’s most popular computing platform. A lot of what is new are actually fixes for things that didn’t go right with the last version. But there is some innovative stuff too like the Edge browser and Hello, which is hardware driven. But even for Windows 10, the ultimate call will be that of the user, who will decide whether the update is actually one that doesn’t need fixes from Day 1.