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Windows gets a lot of undeserved hate. Critics love to describe Windows as a confusing mess while painting macOS as a perfect, easy to use experience Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs Drinking the Kool Aid: 8 Reasons People Love Their Macs When you can buy a laptop for under $500, and a Chromebook will satisfy most people's computing needs, why do people insist on spending well over $1000 on a Mac? Read More . While Windows 10 does have some issues 8 Annoying Windows 10 Issues & How to Fix Them 8 Annoying Windows 10 Issues & How to Fix Them The upgrade to Windows 10 has been smooth for most, but some users will always encounter issues. Whether it's a flashing screen, network connectivity issues, or battery drain, it's time to resolve these problems. Read More , if you look back, it’s clear that Microsoft has made Windows so much more user-friendly than it once was.

Let’s look at some modern aspects of Windows that show how far it’s come in communicating to its users. These make the operating system (OS) easier to use, even for those who don’t understand computer basics.

1. Warmer Language in Dialogue Boxes

Chances are, every time you use your computer you’re going to see a few message boxes pop up. These can alert you to errors, or show tips, advice, and other important information. What you might not have noticed is that these messages have evolved in recent years. Windows has replaced once-technical messages filled with potentially confusing words with language that feels friendlier to the user.

As an example, consider the dialogue box that pops up when you’ve copied a large amount of text to your clipboard in a Microsoft Office app and attempt to close out. This is what the box said in older Office versions:

older office keep copied text message

In modern versions of Office, you’ll see this instead:

newer office copied text message

It’s a subtle change in language, but its effect is a warmer tone to the user. The first change is that the information is presented much more clearly. Compare the top line of the dialogue box on each version — the newer one asks the same question with far fewer words. Second, the text uses “us” to refer to the computer’s actions.

You can find this “we” and “us” language all around Windows 10. Have a look at the below Windows Update page and see how many times it uses “we”:

windows update we language

You don’t see any language like this in Windows 7’s equivalent page:

windows 7 update screen

Sure, these are minor changes, which may feel patronizing to longtime Windows users. But the new language isn’t as cold, and it communicates a simpler message to a novice user.

2. Less Cryptic Blue Screen Messages

The Windows Blue Screen of Death (BSoD) has become a common symbol for computer problems. Whenever Windows runs into a problem that it can’t recover from Don't Panic! Everything You Need To Know About Kernel Panics Don't Panic! Everything You Need To Know About Kernel Panics If you’ve used a computer, you will have no doubt encountered the Blue Screen of Death, or a kernel panic, where the machine restarts without warning, costing you all your work. Read More , it displays a stop error (on a blue screen, thus the name) and must restart. Now, blue screen problems can happen for a variety of reasons 7 Most Common Reasons Windows Gets Unresponsive 7 Most Common Reasons Windows Gets Unresponsive Sometimes, Windows freezes up and hangs without much of an explanation. Next time you suffer from an unresponsive system, review these seven common causes of Windows hangups. Read More , and they’re not always something to worry about.

But to the average user, seeing a screen like this filled with bleak text and cryptic error codes is overwhelming:

old windows blue screen

Compare this to the newer version (in Windows 8 and above). Notice that it includes a trendy “sad face” emoticon, more “we” language, far less text, and a prominently displayed error code. Thus, the user can easily Google the stop code for more information or share it with a tech-savvy friend. In Windows 10, Microsoft recently added a QR code the user can scan for more details and a webpage to visit, as well.

modern windows blue screen
Image Credit: SirLuciusLeftFoot via Wikimedia Commons

These changes have turned a visit to the Blue Screen of Death into a less terrifying experience, and they give the user something to take away.

3. Windows Defender Comes Built-in

One of the biggest security problems of Windows 7 and earlier was that the OS didn’t include an antivirus program The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs The 10 Best Free Anti-Virus Programs You must know by now: you need antivirus protection. Macs, Windows and Linux PCs all need it. You really have no excuse. So grab one of these ten and start protecting your computer! Read More . If a user didn’t know any better, they could use their PC for years without any security software installed. Microsoft changed that starting in Windows 8 — they reworked Microsoft Security Essentials into Windows Defender Windows Defender: 7 Things You Must Know About Microsoft's Antivirus Solution Windows Defender: 7 Things You Must Know About Microsoft's Antivirus Solution Is Microsoft's built-in security good enough? Microsoft continuously improves its security tools. We'll show you the upsides and downsides of Windows Defender in Windows 8, Read More and baked it into the OS.

This means that every user running Windows automatically has an antivirus built-in. That’s huge and great for Windows’ overall security. While Windows Defender isn’t the absolute best anti-malware solution, it carries several benefits 4 Reasons to Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 4 Reasons to Use Windows Defender in Windows 10 In the past, Windows Defender was overshadowed by other options, but now it's quite a contender. Here are a few reasons why you should consider dropping your security suite in favor of Windows Defender. Read More over its competitors. It receives updates through Windows Update, doesn’t nag the user to pay for a premium version, and has advanced features if you want them.

You might still elect to use other security software What Security Software Should You Be Using in Windows 10? What Security Software Should You Be Using in Windows 10? Despite being bundled with its own security tool, Windows 10 needs additional software to keep your data secure and make your online experiences safe. But which security software should you choose for WIndows 10? Read More , which is fine. But having a solid antivirus — as opposed to nothing — set as the default is a huge step in making Windows more user-friendly for all folks. Light computer users are thus protected from malware without having to download anything or deal with pop-ups advertising paid versions.

4. Search Is a Hundred Times Better

Do you have an old Windows XP computer sitting around that you just can’t get rid of? 5 Reasons Why You Love Windows XP & What You Sacrifice 5 Reasons Why You Love Windows XP & What You Sacrifice Nearly 30% of computers are still running Windows XP. It was a stable and reliable system for years, but all good things come to an end. Almost no good reasons to keep using Windows XP... Read More Try something: load up your desktop, open the Search function, and look for a file.

Still waiting?

Windows XP’s search function was horrendous compared to current iterations. It provided too many criteria and options when you just wanted to search for something quickly, took forever to search, and annoyed you with a stupid animated dog. If you couldn’t remember where you put a file or what you named it, search wasn’t going to help you.

Fast-forward to modern Windows versions and it’s amazing how much the search functionality has improved. Now you can search not only for files, but also Control Panel/Settings entries, programs, and more. It’s wicked-fast and lets you configure advanced search parameters if needed. Most users don’t even need to augment Windows Search with an alternative What Are the Fastest Tools for Windows Desktop Search? What Are the Fastest Tools for Windows Desktop Search? Search is one of the digital tools we take for granted and heavily rely on. Fortunately, Windows comes with a handy search feature. Could third-party tools be better and faster? We made the test. Read More  because it’s that good.

Of course, it’s a little unfair to judge a search function from 2001 against ones from 2009 and 2015. But it’s a great example of an improvement Windows made that boosted the productivity of average users.

5. Settings App Makes Configuration Easy

Windows 10 has a split personality when it comes to changing settings. Most advanced users swear by the Control Panel for making modifications to system options, but Microsoft is slowly killing it off Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel Why Microsoft Is Killing the Windows Control Panel The Control Panel is being decommissioned. In Windows 10, the Settings app has adopted most of its features in a more stylish and mobile-friendly interface. Is that really necessary? Read More in favor of the Settings app. While you can’t tweak every setting from the app, it provides an easier way to change options How to Control Windows 10: The Settings Guide How to Control Windows 10: The Settings Guide The Windows control panel is on its way out. Its replacement, the Settings app, has received a significant upgrade in Windows 10. We'll reveal all its secrets for you. Read More than the Control Panel does.

The Settings app divides options into clear groups, with tabs representing all the headers in that group. Compared to the Control Panel, it’s a lot easier to follow. Many Control Panel entries have related settings on the left sidebar that take you to hidden menus. However, because it’s hard to access these menus from anywhere else, it feels like a confusing trail at times.

A novice user isn’t going to tweak every setting Windows 10 has to offer. But they’re more likely to poke around and change a few basic values in the app than they are in the Control Panel. It explains options better and links to Microsoft help pages for more info if needed.

Eventually, the Settings app will totally replace the Control Panel. Doing this will make Windows Settings easier to change for everyone.

How Has Windows Improved for You?

We’ve covered five big ways that Windows has become more user-friendly. Each of these requires less learning on the user’s part and allows them to better interact with Windows.

Some hardcore users might argue that these changes are bad or remove functionality, but we think improving Windows for all is a smart idea. As Windows 10 evolves Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Windows 10 Is the Last Version of Windows. Ever. Microsoft is sick of you not upgrading, and has a solution: Windows 10 will be the final "version" of Windows. Ever. This could mean that you will never again have to buy Windows. Read More , chances are we’ll see even more enhancements on this front.

What advancements has Windows made to become more user-friendly for you? Do you appreciate any of the above changes? Tell us what you think in the comments section below!

Image Credits: Yayayoyo, Odua Images/Shutterstock

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  1. G M
    September 18, 2017 at 4:32 pm

    Indeed.. My biggest things are, the settings app. Control panel is far easier. And now they are even rerouting some of the command line things for control panel to that blasted settings thing, also removing control panel from right clicking the start button.

    And just who is this "WE" and "US" microsoft is referring to? Unless my computer is sentient, which it is not. It shouldn't be referring to itself as "I" let alone "We" or "Us"

    And i've never seen a BSOD that said "Seems". it just want from stop errors, to "Something went wrong, just collecting some info then we'll restart for you" Tell us what went wrong? Microsoft is making windows in to something an idiot would be right at home. Oh and by the way, windows defender was in vista first, not 8. Get your facts straight.

    As for windows being the last version... What do you think all these updates they are pushing out are? These "Updates" are those "New" versions of windows 10, just we are forced to upgrade to them.

  2. Bruce Epper
    June 17, 2017 at 2:20 pm

    Stop messages are now completely useless unless you keep your cellphone right next to you - unlocked - so you can try to capture the QR code before it restarts. Even then, the page it drops you on is equally likely to have nothing at all to do with the error.

    Windows Defender first appeared in Vista, not Win8. At that point it could not be considered a viable AV product since it was very limited in what it scanned for, much less caught, but it was still there.

    The move from the control panel to the where-the-hell-is-it-now Settings was the dumbest move they made. At least with the Control Panel an experienced user could use small icons and go directly to the necessary settings. Now it can take a dozen clicks to find and change a setting that was previously available with 3.

    User-friendly? I think not.