Windows 10 is officially here and it’s generating a lot of buzz for a new windows release, especially considering that the basic version is completely free for Windows 8.1 or 7 owners. And it’s difficult to make an argument against a free upgrade.
However, we've given it a few days worth of play in order to gain a first impression of its best points, and to look for anything we think Microsoft will have to improve in further patches.
We'll be reviewing it in more depth in the coming days, but for now this is what we initially think.
And in that it must be said that Windows 10 is different from Windows 8 in a lot of major but also subtle ways.
Windows 8 was certainly met with mixed feelings. The live tiles/“Metro” interface felt a little forced and whether it grew on you or not, many people found themselves avoiding it altogether. Windows 10, on the other hand, tucks the tile-based interface just inside the Start menu. And If you really don’t like it, you’re welcome to right-click and remove every single pre-installed app from the menu or uninstall them outright if you’re feeling like starting from scratch.
All your important stuff can be found right in the Start menu. There's no more digging around trying to find settings, all apps, file explorer, etc. If there’s something you can’t find at first glance, such as the classic control panel, there’s a search bar just to the right of the start button that says “Ask me anything”. You don’t even need to type the whole word before control panel shows up as the first option.
Keeping it simple
In general the new interface is very clean and fresh. Straight to the point: nothing too flashy or outrageous. And it's fast, and we don't think a weaker or older laptop will have any trouble running Windows 10 (it will probably even work better than Windows 7 or 8 did). The OS itself doesn’t seem to use up that much juice as well, though running 15 programs at once is probably still going to seem a little sluggish on a low- to mid-range PC.
Not having Windows apps automatically open in full screen mode by default is a big change. It seems that everything is windowed now, whether you like it or not. Some apps seem to have a “switch to full-screen” option in the top bar, which can be exited by swiping down from the top of the screen or hovering the mouse pointer at the top.
The Internet Explorer replacement, Microsoft Edge, is pleasant to use, works fast, and - more importantly - hasn’t yet crashed for us. Another surprising stand out feature of the new browser is Reading View; a new book shaped icon next to your favourites that almost always successfully hides all distracting content from a web page (except for the article and related images). We don’t want to call it magic, but… it’s magic. It makes for an excellent distraction-free reading experience.
Microsoft's personal digital assistant has so much potential to change the way we use PC’s, but at the same time, it seems to fly just under the radar. Maybe because it feels a little awkward to speak to your computer or that the voice recognition just isn’t quite perfect yet or that it’s almost faster to search for something yourself depending on what you’re doing. Cortana just seems to fall short of the old razzle dazzle Microsoft was pitching.
On a positive note, being able to search for anything that may be on your computer or on the web in one very prominent place is definitely useful. The ability to type literally anything and almost always find what you’re looking for is a great benefit to disorganised file hoarders such as us.
Its use of Bing for search results as the default engine will worry Google, we suspect. Microsoft makes it so easy to find things without having to open a browser first, that will be what most will do.
Is Windows 10 worth the upgrade? At a whopping $0.00 price tag currently for the Home edition, the answer is a resounding yes. A streamlined, functional OS that took into consideration the negative feedback aimed at the previous iteration is a welcome addition to the family.
It could be different if you're not upgrading from Windows 7 or 8.1, in which case you have to fork out at least £99.99 for the new operating system. For our advice on whether it's worth that kind-of cash, you'll have to wait for our full review we're afraid.