SoftwareSoftware Review

Review of Windows 10

So there I was on the 29th July, waiting for the much-heralded download of my free Windows 10, expecting to either love it or loathe it, and… nothing happened. It seemed that, instead of the blanket release on that date that had been implied (though I’m sure not technically promised), it was being released in waves, and Microsoft wasn’t waving at me.

I finally got it on Thursday, eight days late. The installation caused little problem, although it took awhile, but my first reaction when the thing finally opened was surprise at how familiar the desktop screen looked. As soon as I started investigating the bits and bobs (a technical IT term, of course) I started finding differences, but not as many as I’d been expecting.

Microsoft had made a big thing of the fact the Start Menu was going – so we no longer stop our computers by clicking Start. It has gone, but in its place is a Windows icon in exactly the same position which activates a similar menu. The content has changed quite a bit, but it’s very much the successor to the Start Menu.

Some of the changes are cosmetic – the familiar list of programs becomes a list of apps, for instance – but there are options like a weather report, phone companion and the MS store, as well as a whole entertainment section. The main difference is that these are displayed as large icons, rather than a list, presumably to make them easier to tap on a mobile device. The biggest lack is the Favourites list – although I can still use it from inside the browser, it makes everything one extra click.

One of the big selling-points was Edge, Microsoft’s replacement for the no-longer-fit-for-purpose Internet Explorer. So far, I’ve seen little difference between them, apart from the option to make notes on websites, and the handful of sites I was unable to use on the final version of IE appear to have the same issues with Edge.

More seriously, my security system periodically complains that it can’t do its job properly because Edge doesn’t yet allow extensions, and I’m advised to use a different browser. There were issues of this kind reported in the beta version, but they were supposed to have been sorted.

Another big selling point was Cortana, the personal assistant Microsoft has been offering for a while on their phones. Unless it’s extremely well hidden, I don’t have it, in spite of Microsoft insisting it would be available in the UK. Judging by the Windows 10 help page, I’m far from being the only person with this problem.

Overall, I find Windows 10 OK, but a little underwhelming after the hype. I suspect a number of its features would be an improvement on a touch-screen, but I’m a “traditionalist” and use a mouse. I’d probably find more of interest if I were more IT savvy, and I’ll probably find it more useful as I get to know it better. At the moment, it seems pretty much business as usual – except for the time it’s taking to reset login details and put my favourites list back in an order that allows me to actually find what I need.

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