First of all, this is not meant to be a critique of other operating systems such as Linux or Apple or even of any of the tablet/phone OS. I am a Windows tech, of course I think Windows is best but this article is an attempt to persuade those who have not yet done so to upgrade (from an earlier version of Windows) to Windows 10.
There are many who claim that the last good operating system Microsoft produced was Windows XP, still others claim it is Windows 7 but, unless you have a specific reason to run an older Windows version, I believe that those older OSs simply have too many vulnerabilities.
Let's get the basics out of the way. The newest Windows is, as you might expect, more secure with a number of new features. It uses a technology Microsoft call virtualisation based security (VBS) which effectively isolates processes and reduces the "attack surface" (the parts of the OS malware is able to attack) of the OS. Windows Defender has been upgraded and can be regarded as a reasonably effective AV in its own right and the OS can use Bitlocker and the trusted platform module (TPM) chip, if your computer has one to further secure your system. Windows Hello is a facial recognition system which, if your computer has the requisite hardware, allows your system to log on simply by scanning your face. Windows 10 has other security features such as Passport, Credential Guard, Device Guard as well as many of the older technologies such as User Account Control (UAC), Kerberos Armouring, Smartscreen, Advanced Auditing and more. Not to mention that new installations are now, by default, on the vastly more secure NTFS. The new OS is also vastly more stable with the Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) pretty much relegated to history.
The start menu, dropped in Windows 8 as MS attempted to unify it's OS across all available devices, has returned and is better than ever. The Windows 7 Start Menu was useful but on Windows 10 it has gained what could be argued as a life of its own combining the best features of the W7 menu and the best of The Metro interface. Out of the box the menu is OK but customise as I have done (see below) and it truly becomes useful ... true, it takes time but it's definitely worth it. In essence, it brings the desktop back to the PC (which Windows 8 did its best to destroy) and recognises that all devices are not the same ... it even lets you uninstall applications from the menu. However, if you actually liked the full screen Windows-8-style Metro interface, a few configuration changes and you can still have it.
Windows 10 has a plethora of new features:
- An improved Windows Store experience.
- Better Metro integration (see above).
- Direct X 12/Xbox (useful for gamers).
- Virtual Desktops (something Linux has had for a long time and really useful for the geeks and PC freaks amongst us) A shedload of power user tricks such as "Peek at Desktop", "Shake and minimise" (other windows).
- The Action Centre (keeps track of notifications from all over your system).
- A new Task Manager.
- Cortana (if you have a mic, click the microphone at the right of Cortana's search box and talk, Cortana will do its level best to find what you're interested in).
- MS Edge (I'm still not a fan, still prefer Firefox but many people do like it).
- Typing in web searches from your menu (very useful especially if you think you might have an application installed but don't as you can access the web to find it)
- Automatic backups (can be configured for a remote location e.g. a NAS).
There's a lot more as well.
I started using Windows 10 from one of the early Beta tests and, it was pretty good even then. MS has carried out several updates since then and adding even more features than when I first installed it. In some ways I find modern Windows to be "just more of the same" and, in that vein, have experimented with other operating systems. My problem with the others is simple; no matter how glitzy or glossy they look (and they do), no matter how many features they claim (and they have), no matter how much they tell me Windows is dead and X OS is that much better (definitely a porky) ... whenever I actually want to do something real, something constructive, I go running back to the OS that can actually do the things I want.
In short, Windows 10 is, in my considered (and not so humble) opinion, far and away the best operating system Microsoft has ever made indeed, as far as I am concerned, the best operating system period. Windows 10 was free for a whole year but you can buy a Windows 10 Pro license off Amazon marketplace for less than £15 and, if you use assistive technologies (larger fonts, text-to-speech and so on because of disabilities), can still be obtained for free.
- Windows 10 is not hard to install (or to upgrade and existing system with) and I will be putting a document up here soon to show you how to do that.
- Be careful of scammers when buying licenses online but remember that Amazon will normally refund your money if you do get scammed.
- When upgrading cheaply remember that you will have to download the OS which can take some considerable time over wireless or low speed connections.
- The following is a link to the MS free upgrade for those with disabilities: Free Windows 10 Upgrade for people using assistive technologies.