* Time for Businesses to migrate to Windows 10 before Microsoft starts charging *
The Best Windows yet
Most IT savvy people I know have already upgraded their personal PC(s) from Windows 7 or 8 to Windows 10 and I haven’t heard anyone complain or ask me any questions regarding normal day-to-day operation. Their Desktop programs just work. Most old devices worked fine, even without installing new drivers. New apps and Live Tiles allow ex-Windows 7 users to experience some of the mobile actions on Smartphones.
This is because Windows 10 is familiar to users of both Windows 7 and 8 since it is the best mesh-up of Windows 7 & 8 in the best possible way, thanks to the millions of Windows Insiders who provided feedback & telemetry data to Microsoft before Windows 10 is launched.
The only complain about Windows 10 was from a user who was used to using Control-U-U to shutdown Windows 8. This keyboard shortcut was removed in Windows 10.
Granted, during the first 3 months, there were some stability issues and some new hardware like Surface Pro 3 back then had Sleep & WiFi connection problems. However, after 4-5 cumulative updates within 3 months and the release of version 1511 (Build 10586.x), most of the stability issues have been ironed out. Not to mention, device makers who tweaked their drivers to work better with Windows 10 improving overall stability so much so that stability is on par with Windows 7 now. But, not quite Windows 7 SP1. Resuming from sleep still has some issues and is not as fast as Windows 8.1.
This seem to be caused by Microsoft moving more services to User-mode to emphasize on security by isolating Services from the kernel and IO Stack. This is crucial as a big chunk of Windows 10 installations are on mobile devices including Windows 10 mobile Smartphones.
Regardless, Windows 10 is now installed in more than 270 million devices and a new update called the “Anniversary Update” is due in Q3 2016. The link above details some of the really fantastic and useful features coming to Windows 10 which enhances the Ink (stylus) & Speech input experience. The Speech input is going to be powered by a Microsoft AI affectionately called “Cortana,” and includes many of the abilities of a personal assistant to manage your schedule and perform certain real-world tasks like book a restaurant or hotel. Cortana can even help clean up your hard disk. This update is only for FREE for Windows 10 devices.
If you’re still using Windows 7 or 8, you are not eligible. In fact, after 28 July 2015, upgrading an old Windows 7/8 PC to Windows 10 will no longer be free! So do it real soon!
Putting aside the obvious return of the familiar Windows 7 Desktop & Start Button, Windows 10 improves on key areas like memory usage, network speed, CPU load, disk usage and overall security of the system.
In terms of junk building up and slowing things down, most of the maintenance tasks like backup (1 time setup of File History), disk cleanup, defrag and Windows Updates are all automatic. You just need to leave the PC on overnight once a week.
Windows 10 also includes a decent Anti-malware, Anti-virus system and a powerful Firewall built-in, which are all turned on by default and automatically updated & configured. If your PC supports Secure-Boot, it’s almost impossible to hack into the hard disk to change data or for rootkits to infect the Boot Sectors of the hard disk.
In most eMMC & SSD equipped laptops and tablets, encryption is switched on by default with no penalty on disk performance, thus ensuring sensitive data is protected in the event of theft.
If you use a Microsoft Account instead of a Local Account, you add an additional layer of security + a ton of convenience features to Windows 10! Most of the pins, passwords & other authentication data in Windows 10 are automatically synced to OneDrive, including your Desktop, Files and customisation.
This ensures that there’s always a way for you to recover lost passwords due to all the encryption happening in your PC. With the Microsoft Account, it’s possible to Single-sign-on many apps and services offered by Microsoft and partners without having to re-key in all the passwords.
This also means that if you have multiple PCs/Xbox/Smartphones/Hololens, most of the settings (including files) are sync across devices! If your laptop breaks, you can set up a new laptop in a fraction of the time it used to take you to set up a Windows 7 machine back to a functioning state.
Many of the apps that you use on your Smartphones can also automatically sync to OneDrive so data appear in your PC without you having to do anything. In fact, with the “Anniversary Update,” a Windows 10 mobile device and Android phone can even sync notifications and app actions. An SMS message may arrive on your phone, but the notification is shown on your PC and other devices. You can choose to reply on your PC and Windows 10 will command your phone to send your message, and then cancel the notifications on all your connected devices! How cool is that? 😀
One of my wife’s favourite feature of Windows 10 is actually a feature of the new Edge browser. That’s right! Microsoft released a new super-fast and relatively lightweight browser called ‘Edge’.
Edge’s default page is a personalised snapshot of the (pages of) Interest that Cortana has learned from your browsing habits. If you’re impatient like me, you can also specifically asked Cortana to actively look for your topic of interest. I specifically told Cortana to search for and highlight news related to Malaysian Airlines MH370 on my Windows Phone 8, and Cortana has been showing MH370 news on my devices news feeds for the past year.
Edge is also highly integrated with Cortana and also Microsoft Bing to provide quick answers like currency exchange rates, language translation, unit conversions, etc., without having to open any apps! This feature is standard for all Windows 10 devices including mobile, Hololens and soon to Xbox One.
So far, I’ve only touched on the user experience of Windows 10. How about the benefits to businesses?
First, software compatibility is 100% (to Windows 7) as far as I can tell.
(Some games broke due to the complete removal of Games for Windows & SecureROM DRM, but I see many official & unofficial patches which can fix these problems. Anyway, this shouldn’t matter to businesses.)
Second, driver compatibility is above 90% now because where possible, Windows 10 will install Class drivers instead of vendor drivers. Most printers should work fine unless they’re older Multi-Function machines which include Automatic Document Scanning and you’ve only installed the obsolete Twain drivers. If you’ve also install WIA drivers, all you need to do is to switch scanner driver and it should work. I have an old Brother MFC-3360C that Brother stopped supporting since 2011 but it’s 100% working in Windows 8 & now 10.
Third, Windows 10 is even more manageable than older Windows and is much more secure. It means the chance of a virus attack is lower and every file that’s download or copied from USB/Network or received from email is automatically scanned. You can also lock down many of Windows 10 features if they are against company policies. Security measures can also be remotely implemented like wiping an SSD on a stolen tablet.
Even if a virus does get in, it’s likely the damage is easier to detect & contain compared to Windows XP. OS and Data Recovery features are built into Windows 10 itself to ensure the PC suffers the minimum possible downtime.
Four, Microsoft is allowing anyone upgrade their Windows 7 or 8 devices to Windows 10 for free until the end of July 2016. If you want to prolong the Microsoft supported lifespan of the OS and enjoy all the new and free features being introduces every half-yearly to your PC, upgrade now to Windows 10 or miss out completely.
Five, Microsoft has built-in even more Troubleshooter to identify and solve common issues related to Windows updates, hardware drivers, network & browser issues, amongst others. The performance monitoring tools in Windows 10 are even more comprehensive than Windows 8.1! This makes troubleshooting even easier for tech support.
Six, Windows 10 uses even fewer resources than Windows 7 so most users will see a boost in performance after upgrade, although battery life on laptops may not increase much, if at all.
Seven, Windows 10 is now offered as a Service. As long as your PC is working, even if you upgrade some components, it’ll forever receive new updates and features, maximising the investment on PC hardware. My 8-year-old Fujitsu T4215 TabletPC is still working and now running Windows 10 1511!
Eight, Windows 10 has fantastic support for multiple monitors and virtual-desktops allowing multi-taskers to be even more productive. Continuum allow hybrid laptops to switch their Windows 10 interface between Desktop mode and Tablet mode dynamically so staff can alternate between taking notes & doing presentation or using the keyboard to type a report.
Nine, you can clone your laptop old hard disk to SSD and then upgrade to Windows 10 to see an insane improvement in boot-up speed, program opening and browser speed. All without buying a brand new laptop. This is especially obvious if your old laptop has a Core i5 or i7 CPU.
Ten, Windows 10 just look so much nicer than Windows 7 that your PC will feel like a fresh machine.
What’s the catch?
One word. Privacy, or the lost of. (To an extend.)
In order to offer the huge improvement in usability over Windows 7 & 8, a lot of intelligence is built into Windows 10 and Bing (Microsoft’s Search & AI Engine).
Much of the processing of Cortana happens in the cloud. The fantastic WordFlow keyboard used in Windows 10 Mobile smartphones basically requires an active connection to predict your swipe and next word.
OneDrive, which provides the backbone for the Microsoft Account syncing requires you to be online and data is always being exchanged between your PC and the cloud.
Just like IOS or Android which send tons of data to Apple & Google respectively when you use your Smartphone, it’s impossible for Microsoft NOT to send data to their servers.
The main difference however, is what happens to your telemetry data after they leave your device.
Apple & Google derives most of their income from App & Ad revenues, meaning they inherently wants to harvest non-anonymous data to target you even more precisely to drive your buying behaviour. Microsoft derive their income from their Windows licenses, Cloud services and Office 365. They basically say they will try their best to scrub your identity from your telemetry data and these data are used to better their products and services.
The Insider program and the Feedback hub in Windows 10 are excellent results of Microsoft’s new way of doing business by partnership and listening+responding to feedback.
While this is great for businesses by maintaining some privacy and confidentiality, it’s not so great for app developers who relies on Ad revenue to survive.
Using apps from IOS, it’s pretty obvious why app developers like to target IOS first. The Ad support in the platform is super robust. Any consumer can choose to forgo their privacy and battery life in exchange for better features in IOS apps & games. And since there’re only a limited iteration of iPhones & iPads compared to hundreds of Android devices, small innovative developers will surely target IOS first.
Fortunately, Microsoft is listening to developers as well and will open up the Windows 10 platform by supporting Facebook Ad soon. Their recent acquisition of Xamarin is also received well by developers and seem to be driving richer apps to Windows 10.
I’m looking forward to the “Anniversary update”!
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