Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Windows 10 - my first impressions

Around 11 am today, I opened my Outlook Mail to see if I had got any mail regarding availability of Windows 10 for my PC. There wasn't any. Then I clicked on the small "Get Windows 10" icon on the right end of the Taskbar, the icon that has been there ever since I reserved a copy of the new operating system.

When I clicked on that icon, a small window opened saying that Windows 10 has been downloaded on to my PC, and I had the option to instal it right away or at a later time. Impatient that I was, I clicked on Instal.

The process lasted around an hour, with multiple restarts. And finally, I got the free upgrade to Windows 10, and was good to go.

The Start button

The Desktop -- including the Wallpaper and Shortcuts -- remains as I had customized earlier. That means, I didn't have to make any customization all over again. The Taskbar at the bottom is now a black strip, with the Windows icon on extreme left (reminiscent of the Start button, we all were used to seeing). To its right is a small box to "Search the web and Windows". That's a good new addition.

Somewhere to the middle of the Taskbar are the apps that I have pinned to the Taskbar. This has that very vague resemblance to the Mac feature. (I know Apple fans will be outraged to see any attempt at comparison with their greatest gadget on the face of Earth.)

On the extreme right of the Taskbar are the same stuff, like time and date stamp, notifications, WiFi, battery indicator etc -- only that some of the icons look now different.

The first thing that I did -- well, Microsoft would have expected that from anyone who upgraded -- was to click on that Windows icon, or the Start button, on extreme left bottom. This was touted as the single most important feature of Windows 10, the restoration of the Start button.

Yes, the very same pop-up appeared, only that this time it's a bit broader, with all the most used app on the top left, and below that File Explorer, Settings and Power button. I remember how I struggled to find that Power button in Windows 8.1. Below Power button is "All apps".

To the right of the pop-up is the old live tiles that used to occupy most of the screen in 8 and 8.1. On top is "Life at a Glance", comprising Calendar, Mail, Photos, Weather etc. And below that block is "Play and Explore", comprising Games and and other leisure apps.

Minimize and Close

The other feature I found restored and felt quite happy about was the Minimize and Close buttons on top right when one opens a window. In Windows 8 and 8.1, once you opened a window, if you wanted to minimize or close it, you had to hover the mouse, for the buttons to appear, and along with them, in the most confusing manner, a vertical Menu also would appear on the right, making it all so cluttered and chaotic.

Mercifully, that's all gone, and you don't have to struggle to minimize or close a window that you have opened.

Windows Store

The app store is now available on the computer. That's very much in sync with Microsoft's aim of better integration among all devices. But it's a different matter that all Windows apps aren't as good as their counterparts in Android or iOS.

Cortana

I looked around for Cortana, the personal digital assistant (similar to Apple's Siri and Google Now). But it was nowhere to be found. I gave a search, and Microsoft website told me: "Cortana is available in the following countries/ regions: China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, and United States." This was a disappointment as I was looking forward to chatting with my PC.

Edge

This is the rebranded Explorer. One new feature is the "Make a Web Note", on top right. Click on it to make notes, draw lines or make a clipping. Otherwise, on first look, Edge looks very much the same. Nothing extraordinary about speed.

Different look

Most of the features, like Settings, File Explorer, Time and Date Stamp, and many apps have a much sleeker and nicer look about them.

Overall, first impression

Good. It looks like a natural progression from Windows 7. It's not confusing and cluttered, and the simpler interface is a big relief for people who are struggling with Windows 8 and 8.1.

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