The upgrade to Windows 10 was easy and brought a lot of nice improvements for Windows 7 users. I signed up for the free upgrade early and was able to download it last night. That was the first of many positives. I was able to schedule the installation for 2am so that (a) it came when I have a cheap bandwidth window and (b) I could take advantage of a head start while I was sleeping!
I came down at 5am after walking the dog and the download and upgrade was already finished. It respected my current Windows login – I was worried it was going to try to link my Microsoft account as it had with some of our Windows 8 computers – and prompted me for a bunch of settings.
It would be easy to skip these but there are an awful lot that involve uploading your information to Microsoft or enabling tracking by third-party advertisers or providers. Spend a bit of time to turn off the invasive settings, although you can change them later.
The most notable con was that Windows Defender came activated and the Antimalware scan, although not scheduled to run, was chewing up a bunch of CPU. Since I run a non-Microsoft anti-virus/malware app, I disabled Defender and my CPU went back to normal territory.
And that’s it so far. I’m really pleased with what I have seen in the first few hours.
These positives include:
- apps from the Windows app store that allow me to forego using Adobe Flash ever again. I had already uninstalled it, which meant I had to skip streaming music sites like Slacker.com. Now I can use the Slacker Windows app without risking the daily security hacks on Flash. The only downside is that the app does not recognize social logins, so I lose the profile that is tied to my Google account login.
- a more flexible taskbar, which compresses as you open more windows, but will show you both icon and partial window title for some of them. Interesting to me, on an extended monitor, you see the same taskbar but only the icons are highlighted; the window titles only appear on your primary monitor.
- the new Edge browser. The disappearing location bar is kind of hinky but overall it’s nice and clean. I wished it integrated with my Keepass password manager but I plan to try out the built-in research tools for notating Web pages and saving reading. None of these features are unique to Edge, but require add-ons in other browsers. It’s nice to see these features embedded in the browser, as Firefox has recently done with Pocket.
- the single sign-on for Microsoft cloud products in Edge. If you have used Microsoft SharePoint with Internet Explorer, you know what this looks like. I did not expect that it would take my Microsoft OneDrive credentials and automatically log me in to my cloud services when I accessed them in the browser. I don’t recall seeing that in Internet Explorer under Windows 7.
- leaving my environment alone. All of my software was in the same place, all of my files were still assigned the same apps as before. There are some minor UI differences when you’re browsing for files with Windows Explorer but they’re easy to get used to. Most importantly, the inclusion of the Windows button and its emulation of the Windows 7 button – rather than the weird Windows 8 screens that hide the desktop – meant that the jump from 7 to 10 is, visually, pretty minor.
Dare I say it, it reminds me more of the recent versions of Ubuntu than anything. The automatic updates are similar to what Ubuntu users experience. The ability to designate my taskbar to appear at the top (rather than having it appear at the bottom of the screen and then dragging it up). The lack of chrome around windows – which is actually a little irritating – is similar. And the move towards the LTS concept, where we may see an alignment of Windows, rather than the keep-the-copy-you-got-free-with-your-PC versioning that has always existed.
I was a bit concerned that I’d end up with blue screens of death or a lengthy install with a bunch of user inputs, like previous Windows versions. This upgrade couldn’t have been more seamless.