win10

I upgraded to Windows 10 – First Impressions

Friday Summer Afternoon Musings – August 7, 2015

“If it’s free, it’s for me.” is a humorous expression I added to my lexicon many years ago. And thus I jumped headfirst into the free Windows 10 Upgrade on my home desktop machine running Windows 8.1. Since this is the family PC (not my work PC), I concluded the risk was low. And so here we go…

Start me up

I registered via the Windows 10 icon next to the system tray a few weeks ago, and received a notice that my time for upgrading had arrived. It seemed fairly straightforward, and I didn’t time the process but instead around 11PM hit GO, said “Goodnight”, and went off to bed.
When I woke up this morning, I was advised that all was good, but it had not yet migrated the applications and connected devices – so after logging in with my Windows ID (more about this later), it took about 15 minutes, with the screen pleasantly changing hues of blue (seriously, ablue screen? Who chose that color?) and calming messages like “Just a few more tweaks”, “This is taking a little longer than usual” while warning DON’T TURN OFF YOUR PC on the bottom of the screen.

The new logon paradigm

My desktop PC has neither a camera nor a microphone, so I was unable (or too lazy to dig around for one) to set up Cortana for facial or voice recognition. I did have to switch from the usual Windows Power-On Password to a simple multi-digit PIN. This launches my Windows Account, and starts the Win10 OS. As of this moment, I have two laptops (both happily still running Win7 Pro), but my tablet and phone are iPad and iPhone respectively. Cortana (sort of the Windows version of Siri) requires that you set up and provide some (to me) very personal connection information like Skype contacts, Facebook contacts, and Outlook contacts, as well as knowing where you are located. Since a desktop PC is not a mobile device, none of these features meant much to me and I skipped them. But having seen demos on various PC reviews, it seems to work pretty well. For me, it was of no value.

The Bing Box

win2Internet Explorer is no longer officially the packaged browser. Instead you have the Microsoft Edge (another lousy name, IMHO), and what I call the Bing Box search engine input. It sits as a grayish box in the lower left bottom of the screen, and kind of a combination of Windows Explorer and the old IE.
You type a word or phrase (i.e. IBM), and it lists current news (i.e. from the internet), and any local documents or files containing content related to IBM. So in my case, I received the current IBM stock price, my locally stored IBM Lenovo PC purchase documents, and my resume which contains references to my 25+ year tenure at IBM. BUT, you can’t change the search engine to anything but Bing, and with it, you are nudged into joining the Bing Rewards, which essentially lets you earn points by searching and working those searches from within Bing. To Microsoft’s credit, I think that this will drive much more Bing searches than before, since it’s built into the OS. I can still use Chrome or Firefox if I want, but they search the web, not my PCs or (if connected) any other PCs on my home network that could have additional results. I’ve never been a fan of Bing, but I can sense more usage of it naturally, which will drive revenue for MS. (Full disclosure, I own about 1000 shares of MSFT common stock).

Performance

Upon reboot, I found no difference in load up time, primarily because I really don’t have a lot of applications on this home PC other than MS Office 2013. There are some cool tools for indexing and retrieving music, photos and videos, but it’s not something I do a lot of, so another no-big-deal. I am running a Lenovo desktop with an i5 processor and 8GB of ram, which was fine for Win7 and seems perfectly acceptable for Win10. Edge ran no faster than IE 11, and somewhat slower than Chrome.

Summary Observations

win1So with about 4 practical hours of usage under my belt, here’s what I can share:

  1. Upgrade from Win 8.1 was very simple, and required no intervention from me as a user.
  2. All my applications work as they did before, though I think I would appreciate the changes more on a mobile device or at least if my desktop had a built in camera and/or microphone.
  3. Secure sign-on is no longer your local PC logon password – You now must logon to your Windows account and you can use the camera (for facial recognition), the microphone (for Cortana to recognize your voice) or create a unique pin number if you have neither.
  4. The Bing Box is a pretty powerful and useful way to search for information whether on the PC, a connected device, or on the web. BUT it is only available using Bing.
  5. Universal Apps allegedly run on everything from Xbox to Surface tablets to Windows phones. I don’t have anything but Windows PCs, but for many, these could be game changers.
  6. Read the usage rules carefully – from what I could decipher, MS can take control of the microphone, the camera, your search history, and any other data. You can combat that by going into Settings >Privacy>General and turning off everything, then continue with location, camera, microphone, etc., UNLESS you have a reason to have it on. There is another way with a free app calledDoNotSpy10 http://bit.ly/1UpPEof

To sum it all up, I do like the upgrade process, the ease of migration, and the Bing Box. However until I get a non-iOS device, I won’t be able to report on the other valuable additions for mobile you can enjoy with the Win10 upgrade.

Compared to other Win versions, it’s much more user friendly than Win 8, though you can use still use the pane approach on a touch screen device. It feels familiar, and so far, did not require much learning for me to be productive as usual. I’ll report back once I’ve spent some serious time putting it through the paces.

Enjoy another great summer weekend.
Ed Colandra
ed@edcolandra.com