Windows 10 is finally here, and there is much rejoicing! With Windows 10, Microsoft has carried over the good parts of Windows 8 – faster boot times, improved search, and improved security – and fixed the bad parts that drove everyone crazy.
While it isn’t perfect, Windows 10 represents a significant improvement in both usability and productivity while being the most robust and secure Windows ever released.
IT Acceleration recommends that everyone begin testing and planning for a Windows 10 migration.
Windows 10 Highlights and New Features
The Start Menu Is Back
Windows 8 was Microsoft’s attempt to make one OS for all devices – PCs, tablets, and phones. Like most such attempts, it failed. The tiles took away the familiar look and feel that users had spent years getting used to (and personalizing). No Start menu meant no one could find the simple things they wanted to do. Productivity took a big step backward.
The Desktop Is Back To Normal
Instead of having tiles and apps that are impossible or difficult to configure, you have your same old comfortable desktop back. With all of your old settings and familiar shortcuts.
A new feature for Windows is multiple desktops. This means that you can create one desktop set of icons and apps for work and one for home use. Or one for when you are wearing your programming hat, one for your Executive hat, and another for giving customer presentations.
Each desktop can be configured as you like with different wallpapers, icons, shortcuts etc. There is no limit on the number of desktops so let your imagination be your guide.
Greatly Improved Snap Assist
In Windows 7, you could drag an app to the side of the screen and it would snap to fill half the screen. You could then do the same to the other side and have 2 apps, each using half the display. In Windows 10 you can now have 4 apps snapped per screen. If you have dual monitors, you can have 8 apps snapped and opened at once. This is great for productivity as it allows you to compare items, keep tabs on a running process, and check email at the same time.
No More Charms Or Display Hotspots
This means you won’t get zapped into some configuration menu or strange application when you move your mouse into the corner or side of the display. No more bouncing back and forth between apps when you just meant to move the mouse. If you are one of the few who really liked these features, go ahead and turn them back on but the rest of us are just happy they’re gone.
Security Improvements Abound
Anti-Virus is built in and Device Guard is included. Device Guard protects your PC by checking new apps for a Microsoft signature. If not present, you can opt to install the app but at least it will ask you. Several hardware vendors are working with Microsoft to incorporate the same feature into devices you may attach to your workstation.
This will allow you to log in via password, fingerprint, face, or even iris scan. Security without having to remember or change a password every 30 days means even more users will use it.
Windows 10 Is Not Without Controversy
Right at the head of that class is Cortana.
Microsoft says, “Cortana is your clever new personal assistant.” It has a low level of artificial intelligence and you can ask it questions using plain English that it mostly gets it right. You can also use Cortana to control apps and set reminders.
So what is the controversy? Privacy.
In order to respond to vocal commands, Cortana is always on and always listening. And because Microsoft wants its artificial intelligence to learn, it is always paying attention to what you do and say. It knows what apps you use and tracks what order you use them in. Any and all usage and patterns will be tracked and recorded by Microsoft. If you keep asking for directions to Dunkin Donuts, don’t be surprised if you start seeing coupons for donuts and ads for weight loss.
Depending on your viewpoint, this is either the most awesome use of technology to make your life better or the most grievous invasion of privacy since Big Brother. IT Acceleration would like to point out that if you have any HIPAA requirements or other privacy concerns, it is advisable to turn these features off. From a forensics perspective, this is all new so nobody knows how, or if, this will data will be discoverable down the road. (This may very well be a topic for a future blog post.)
All in all, Windows 10 is an excellent, highly configurable, user-friendly, and secure Operating System. If you still aren’t sold on its virtues, bear in mind that Windows 7 has already reached end-of-life and Windows 8 will reach end-of-life on 1/9/2018. Market conditions, such as device driver availability, may soon force your hand. Better to be prepared than to have change thrust upon you.
Finally, migration is simple and free. Stay tuned for my next post about how to migrate.