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Windows 10 arrived on July 29 and has received rave reviews across much of the tech-sphere. And it is understandably so because Microsoft did two basic things well: a serious period of soul searching following Windows 8, and an extended, inclusive testing period.
Oh, and they changed their management structure, and have a new(ish) company ethos based on universal productivity.
Windows 10 is a big deal. It is the latest and greatest in the long running Microsoft operating system line, and Redmond has actively touted this to be their last large OS release. It is a chance for Microsoft to regain some lost ground to some of its major competitors, and a chance to lure back some of the consumers lost in the period.
Instead of a single author listing off the bits they like and love about the new operating system, we thought our readers deserved a better, egalitarian approach, and gave our authors the opportunity to contribute with their own Windows 10 experience or perception.
So here we go: the MUO Windows 10 Opinion piece.
Tina Sieber: OneDrive Users Beware
I’ve been running Windows 10 since October last year, first the Technical Preview, then the Insider Preview, and now the release version. For me, Windows 10 was stable and usable from the very beginning. So much that I immediately made it my main operating system, something I never did for Windows 8. Every new build installed effortlessly and I never had to go back or start from scratch. While the preview builds did have bugs, none of them were devastating and the overall experience was smooth.
Over those past months, Windows 10 has been going through a steady evolution and we can expect this development to continue. Windows 10 will never be finished. The first big update — Threshold 2, expected this fall — will add new features and hopefully remove any bugs that are still hanging around.
One group that has expressed great disappointment in Windows 10 were OneDrive users who fully embraced the “smart files” feature in Windows 8. It allowed them to see and access hundreds of gigabytes of data in the cloud from their desktop, while not burdening their local drive with more than empty placeholders. This feature was removed, but is expected to return with a future update, hopefully with Threshold 2. Until then, passionate OneDrive users should look into alternatives for smart files or delay the upgrade.
Matthew Hughes: Golden Touch
So, I’ve been using Windows 10 in a pretty unusual way. Rather than on a standard laptop or desktop, I’ve been using it on a 7″ keyboard-less tablet. It’s been… surprisingly good.
First: Controversial opinion, Windows 8 was an abomination. It tried to compromise between being a tablet OS and a desktop OS, and failed at both. It was bad, and Microsoft should feel bad.
Windows 10 feels extremely touch-oriented. The buttons are bigger, and can be pressed even with my grotesque, vienna sausage fingers. The keyboard is vastly improved, with better access to special characters and a more efficient use of space. Gestures and hotspots are better thought out, and Edge runs amazingly on the low specs of the majority < $100 Windows tablets.
By focusing on design and user experience, Microsoft has built an operating system that’s touch-oriented, but still feels amazingly natural on a desktop or laptop. That’s pretty damn amazing.
But it’s still Windows. Although the operating system is optimized, not all apps are. There’s no consistent experience across apps, as there are on Windows Phone and iOS. It’s a vast improvement, but there’s still a long way to go.
At least it’s got Candy Crush.
Guy McDowell: No Need to Rush
Windows 10 is a nice blend of accommodating the way long time Windows users work and making things easier for people completely new to Windows. There is new functionality in it, and some things have disappeared or been significantly changed. The changes aren’t enough to negatively affect most people’s use of Windows, though.
When asked about Windows 10, and I get asked a lot, my standard answer is, “If you have a computer that’s working well and you’re happy with the version of Windows you have on it, no need to upgrade. If you’re going to buy a brand new Windows based computer, you might as well go with Windows 10. It won’t be as much of a shock as Windows 8.
Mihir Patkar: Curb Your Enthusiasm
I like Windows 10. As a free upgrade, I think everyone should install it. Hey, it’s free, right? But there is nothing to get excited about here.
Windows 10 is a refinement of everything Windows has done in the past few years. To quote an oft-repeated phrase in technology today, it’s an evolutionary step, not a revolutionary step.
The base operating system itself is solid. The preview has crashed on me far less number of times than previous versions. It generally works well, and I’m glad to see the Start menu back. It feels like the Windows desktop environment we all know.
And in many ways, Windows 10 is an evolution of the desktop. All those “Modern” apps from Windows 8 are now packaged as Universal apps which run within the desktop environment, and that’s nice to see.
The new Edge browser is a non-starter for me. It has nothing on Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox. Don’t bother with it. And I like the idea of Cortana, but I don’t see myself using it much.
When you boil it all down, Windows 10 is an improved desktop environment, and that’s a good thing for someone who likes his PC to function how it has always been functioning. But nothing in Windows 10 is exciting, future-changing, or even present-changing in how you interact with your devices and technology, as a collective.
Christian Cawley: Why Not to Upgrade Yet
Having lived with Windows 8 for the past 4 years (from evaluating the previews through to using the latest Windows 8.1) and seen how much it’s evolved, I’m part excited, part dreading the arrival of Windows 10.
I’m excited because I think having Cortana on the desktop will be really useful for all kinds of users, but at the same time I’m reluctant to get too excited as I don’t feel the UI is right for the voice assistant on a desktop computer, which feels like a direct port from Windows Phone 8, even occupying similar dimensions.
Similarly, I’m dreading Windows 10 because I’m not convinced that Microsoft has truly learned how to deal with the problems of Windows 8. Edge is a case in point: the browser looks clunky (and currently lacks extension support) and this is obviously to enhance its usability for touch users. But it still looks clunky. There’s also the problem with Windows Explorer, which is barely possible to use without a mouse.
I’m excited by Continuum, I’m thrilled by the idea of a more touch-friendly Office and I’m intrigued to see how games can be streamed from an Xbox One. But I’m not upgrading to Windows 10 just yet. Technical issues installing it on my six month old laptop aside, I’m playing it safe and leaving Windows 10 in a virtual machine until I’m satisfied that the various bugs and missing features have been resolved, or announcements made to this effect.
I would also urge anyone reading this to think carefully about the upgrade, and hang fire… for now.
Bruce Epper: Smooth Rollback
Despite taking about 30 minutes longer than expected, the upgrade of my Windows 7 Ultimate system to Windows 10 Pro went smoothly. Post-upgrade, I needed to have Norton Security contact the subscription servers again to get it working properly.
Even though I didn’t use the Express Settings, I still went through all of the options that affect Microsoft’s data collection to shut off everything I didn’t absolutely need.
Then I went out and downloaded a few files of various sizes to see how well networking performed, which appears to be somewhat better than my original Windows 7 setup.
With everything seeming to work correctly, I started work on another article. While I was writing and pulling up a couple of Internet sources to verify what I was writing was correct, I suddenly lost Internet connectivity. I could still reach all of the machines on my network, but couldn’t do anything on the Internet. Running the Network Troubleshooter resulted in the claim of a problem with my cable modem even though all other devices on my network had no problems accessing the Internet.
I verified that my network settings hadn’t changed. I disabled my security software. I rebooted the machine several times. I still couldn’t get to the Internet.
With no other options left for my most critical machine, I rolled back to Windows 7. About 45 minutes later, the system was back to my old operating system and everything working again.
The most surprising thing to me about the entire experience was how quickly the rollback happened and I haven’t found anything that was broken in the process. I figured I would end up reinstalling at least some software once the rollback completed, but all of my day-to-day programs have been working flawlessly.
Gavin Phillips: Opinions Roundup
Windows 10 is clearly a winner. But as with any new operating system, it has arrived with its fair share of errors and bugs. However, in comparison with Windows 8, it is a vastly cleaner, easier-to-access experience for consumers, focused on delivering immediately usable services. As well as this, Microsoft has time and experience on its side.
Windows 8 was released at a time when tablets, while popular, were not as widely used. Windows 8 landed as an operating system designed for devices consumers didn’t have, and certainly didn’t appreciate being pushed towards. Microsoft looks to have acknowledged the error of their ways, learning from the flaws.
Windows 10 comes with a new look, a new browser, new universal apps. It is a fast, modern operating system with excellent search features, a nice shiny new settings panel, and with the promise of an evolving Cortana. The Threshold 2 update arrives in October, bringing with it a slew of features, updates, optimizations, operating system stabilizations, and very importantly, extensions for the Edge browser.
Windows 10 also comes with a somewhat hefty price attached if you’re not receiving a free upgrade, coming in at roughly $100 depending on your retailer. We are also waiting to see just how many developers are going to jump aboard the universal apps train, despite how useful they are to you and I. Microsoft is caught in a bind: they need more users to encourage app developers to the platform, while they need the apps to lure the users. Will the promise of a free upgrade keep the download counter ticking, or will the initial surge slowly die? Either way, it’s a numbers game for Microsoft.
Windows 7 was great. Windows 8 was terrible to begin with, but admittedly improved over time. Windows 10 isn’t quite the shining, glorious return Microsoft may have envisioned, but it is a jolly nice return to the bits of Windows we know and like best.
Your turn! What do you think? Have you upgraded or would you like to? If not, what’s your reason for holding back?