My first experience with Windows 10 is nothing out of the ordinary. The average person upgrades their OS every 5-8 years. So, if you’ve used Windows-based operating systems for the last 20 years, chances are you won’t freak out when you finally install Windows 10.
The user interface isn’t all that different from Windows 8. In the native start menu, you’ll see tablet-style tiles for news, Facebook updates, and suggested apps. If you don’t like this revolving flipboard of notifications, you can always install the Classic Shell and your start menu will go back to Windows 7/8. My favorite feature exists for the sole purpose of efficiency. When you click on the little arrow () near one of your frequently used programs, you have the option to click on one of your most recently opened files. So you can pick up right where you left off.
The Action Center is more for businesses, I think, what with the VPN controls and such, but maybe you want to see your Pinterest notifications, weekly alerts, and system status messages all in one place? I tend to ignore this thing on the right-hand side of the screen (it’s connected to the little thought bubble icon () on the system tray/task bar).
See “All apps” instead of “All programs”, “Quick access” () instead of “Favorites”. I find Quick access very handy, indeed. Quick access learns which folders you’re using the most, whether you’re frequently accessing a folder within your Desktop, somewhere in the cloud, or even on a remote server. So, instead creating a shortcut (how ’00s of you), now you can just click on the folder on the left-hand side of your File Explorer.
Instead of Internet Explorer, we now have Edge. The icon () is still quite similar, so I’m hesitant to click on it when I see it in the taskbar. I mostly use Chrome, as this wonderful browser has all my passwords, cookies, and bookmarks saved. And it loads fast. Why would you switch to Edge?
A long-winded sidenote about Cortana:
Cortana lives under the guise of a small circle () lurking on your taskbar. She’s an AI named after the character popular in the Halo franchise, I imagine, and she’s hailed as the Windows equivalent to Apple’s Siri. However, she’s nothing like Siri. Cortana is a glorified search bar. So, instead of the Windows 8 version of the start menu search bar, you have to use Cortana, or look through your files yourself (see Quick Access section above).
Nothing personal about that at all. If I asked Siri, “What’s up, doll?” She responds with, “Helping Liam recycle solar panels, so we can all have a brighter future.” Now, that’s cute. Siri actually understands full sentences, too, so that’s comforting. Like Siri, Cortana does do things I tell her to. For instance, if I say, “Make a note,” she would start dictating for me, just like Siri.
However, when you activate Cortana, the stipulations state she tracks your browser history, she uses your location, she suggests things, and sends you alerts when it seems like you have all these other options to receive reminders (see Action Center above), and maybe you don’t want the office knowing you’re looking up guacamole recipes at work?
I’m disabling Cortana, FYI. (The circle icon then turns into a magnifying glass .)
So, come on, Microsoft. Get with the times already. If you name an app “Cortana”, I expect her to be kind of buggy, severely accurate and timely, yet full of personality. Maybe I shouldn’t have played Halo and/or read the books so thoroughly…
Overall, switching to Windows 10 isn’t all that daunting. Sure, the text seems a little smaller and crisper than you’re used to, but you can always enlarge it in your Settings. So, don’t be scared to upgrade–especially if it’s free.