Upgrading to Windows 10 Review

Posted January 11, 2016

My family shared their mixed opinions about Windows 10 over the break – oh yes, we really know how to let loose and relax on holiday!  My sister-in-law plans to avoid upgrading for as long as possible, she more than once stated she’d go back to the good ole days of Win XP, given half a chance.  My mother lamented the fact her laptop had automatically updated to Win 10, whereas Dad said he was really enjoying the latest version, and that he found it more stable and user-friendly than previous Windows versions.  Yup, the actual words “user-friendly” and “version” came out of my 71 year old father’s mouth.  These are truly digital times.

A quick search online confirms that others feel much the same way, particularly about the automatic update to Win 10 for home users, with no opt-out or choice to delay.  Beyond that though, there seems to be consensus that this version is greatly improved from Windows 8 and 8.1.  So, I’ve outlined the main changes I noticed and some features I think you’ll like.
I still want to greet the Start menu with a hushed “welcome back” every time I login.  I love seeing my most frequented apps and it’s so much easier to get to Explorer, Settings and Power options than it was with the annoying charm bar from Windows 8 popping up and in the way.

I use Windows Search all the time to speedily locate apps or files – the introduction of a search icon makes it easier for everyone to use this handy feature.  Just click Search, then type a few letters and the best match is displayed.  You can also change the settings to search the web too.


The Task View is a useful new feature, very handy when you have several apps open at one time.  You can also run several desktops at one time, which is good if you use a lot of apps at once and need to organise them into distinct desktops.  As a typical PC user, I barely used the Metro Tiles or Apps view in Win 8, instead selecting Desktop to work in the familiar view similar to Windows 7.  Microsoft originally developed tiles expecting us all to move to touch devices, however the majority of business (and personal) users continue to use a PC or laptop with a mouse and keyboard.  Even my clients who have a Surface Pro or iPad, or use their phone on the road, tend to have a non-touch device in the office that they use to perform intensive tasks like typing up large reports, calculating formulae and data analysis or building a presentation.  So, it’s a big fat relief to us all that Windows 10 takes the tiles off the desktop and pops them onto the Start menu.

The Task View is a more helpful take on tiles – instead of displaying apps you don’t really use, it displays the stuff you’re currently working on.  Plus, you no longer have to go to the top corner to close down any apps you opened in error.  This particular ‘feature’ of Win 8 was a tough one to explain to trainees – many couldn’t wrap their heads around this weird behaviour; apps they barely recalled opening were still sitting ‘open’ on a desktop that wasn’t even in view.  Task View makes much more sense, and offers a simplified approach to working with lots of apps at one time.

Some of the features I liked in older versions are still available in Win 10; right mouse clicking over any app on the Taskbar gets you a handy list of recently used files, and clicking the pin icon pins the file to the list forever.  And, you can still right mouse click anywhere on the desktop to quickly open display settings and personalise Windows.

A small change to File Explorer (formerly known as Windows Explorer) is that the Favorites list has been replaced with Quick Access – it displays your favourite locations as well as an automatically generated list of places you most recently accessed and frequent.  You can still pin favourite apps, as well as drag and drop to add to the list.

To my eyes, the biggest change is in the new internet browser, Edge.  It replaces Internet Explorer as the default web browser -it has a stripped down look-n-feel, in development it was known as ‘Project Spartan’ and it is that!  I’m sure I’ll love it in time, but I still find it a little too bare.

Edge has been designed to stop you from getting distracted by commands and menus, instead it allows you to focus on content.  Edge looks at your browsing habits and tries to provide news you’ll find interesting which can be unnerving to the paranoid amongst us, but it’s the kind of feature my Dad really enjoys.  You can still display the Favorites bar and easily change the search settings, just click on the ellipses […] and edit the Settings.

Clicking in the general area at the top of the window brings up the address bar where you can type and search directly – the mystery of the disappearing address bar is a little disconcerting at first, but you get used to it.  Edge is particularly great for Office 365 users who need to open lots of online apps like SharePoint, Mail and Calendar.  It seems to work quicker than IE and there are some cool new features like making a web note (handy for anyone who uses the internet for research) and the reading view.

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