Mark Rudiger's Blog

Keeping up with technology - Not an easy task!

Should I upgrade to Windows 10?

Windows 10 was released on Wednesday, July 29.   Windows 10 is a FREE upgrade from Microsoft for anyone who has a licensed copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.  This offer is only good for one year, until July 29, 2016.  If you are eligible to upgrade, I would suggest that you do so.  However, if you have concerns, the following article may help you with your decision.

If you are using Vista or Windows 7 and you REALLY don’t like change, it’s all right not to update. Microsoft plans to support Windows 7 until January 14, 2020.  Windows XP and previous Windows versions are no longer supported with security and driver updates so I recommend updating to a newer version.

Windows 8 was Microsoft’s first attempt to create an operating system that worked across all platforms: desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets.  While it was not perfect, it was quite an accomplishment.  Windows 8 and a Microsoft account (set one up easily at allow you to buy another device, log into your Microsoft account on it, and automatically transfer all your PC settings to the new device.

Windows 8 includes a desktop that is very familiar to users of previous Windows versions, but it also has a new interface, called the “start-screen” or “metro screen” where “live tiles” of all the applications on the computer are displayed. This new interface is more closely related to the screen on most smartphones and tablets.  One of the confusing things about Windows 8 for many people is that it boots up to this start-screen rather than to the desktop screen; you then open your desktop by clicking on (or, with a touch screen, touching) the desktop tile.

Another issue people had with the Windows 8 interface is that it did not have a start button.  The start button (located at the bottom left corner of your screen in previous versions of Windows) allowed you to get to your programs, settings, and files and to shut down the computer.  All of these functions are handled through various new features which users of Windows 8 have to learn.

The permanent start button reappeared in the free upgrade, Windows 8.1, which is recommended for Windows 8 users.  However, the 8.1 start button still does not have all the functions of the Windows 7 start button.  Several companies have designed start button apps to replicate the Windows 7 button for Windows 8 and 8.1.  “Classic Shell” is a free start button app that I install on customer computers on a regular basis to make it easier for them to navigate in Windows 8 or 8.1.  Besides the start button, Classic Shell includes a setting that completely skips the start-screen and boots the computer directly to the desktop.  For people who don’t like the start-screen or who just do not want to learn it, this is a great option.  The OS will look almost identical to Windows 7 but will still be able to use the Windows 8.1 features.

I think most people who say they hate Windows 8 just haven’t learned all the features of the new interface; mostly because the new features weren’t intuitive.  One of the nice things about the new start-screen is that you can search for anything on your computer just by typing the word.  There is no need to click or open any program, just start typing and Windows will search through all your apps and programs for matches.  Other useful features found in Windows 8 and 8.1 include many ways to view multiple windows on your desktop, to see other open programs, to run more than one program at a time, and to use the full screen apps.

In Windows 10, the new start button will once again be able to access all the programs and applications from one menu.  You will also be able to run the start-screen apps from within the desktop; no more popping back and forth from desktop view to start-screen view.

One of the new features with Windows 10 is the new “virtual” desktop.  This enables you to run completely separate desktops and switch between them quickly.  Though this might not be valuable to the average PC user, power users will be thrilled.

The other great feature in Windows 10 is the intelligent personal assistant known as Cortana.  Cortana is a spoken interface similar to the Apple iPhone’s Siri, which lets you ask it questions.  Cortana will actually answer your verbalized questions in real sentences.   If it doesn’t have a live answer for you, it will give you a list of related internet websites for you to choose from.

Finally, Windows 10 will introduce a new web browser, Microsoft Edge, as well as integrated support for fingerprint and face login, and upgraded graphics capabilities for gaming.  Windows 10 will boot up faster (be ready for you to use your computer after you turn it on) and it will run programs faster than previous Windows operating systems.

Mark Rudiger has been troubleshooting computers for over 20 years.  He owns Lake County Websites & Computer Repair, LLC, which is located in Middletown.  You may contact Mark by calling 707-987-1923 or emailing [email protected].