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Windows 10 Deserves to Skip a Number

Sam Link
Aug 6, 2015


Last week, Microsoft released the newest entry in their Windows Operating System series – Windows 10. In an unprecedented move, they made the upgrade free to download for one year to all users of the previous two iterations – Windows 7 and 8.

Windows 9, apparently, went into the cyber-ether, never to be seen. But that’s fine, because Windows 10 is actually the twelfth in the series by my count, and it’s enough of an improvement to justify its own number.

So, let’s break down the new Windows – in appearance, it’s a hybrid of the experimental Windows 8 tiles and the classic start menu and toolbar of earlier editions, and I personally really like it. In addition, the boot speed is excellent – comparable to Windows 8, and considerably faster than Windows 7. This speed goes beyond the boot – everything feels zippier under Windows 10. The hardware recognition is also improved – I use a laptop with two graphics cards; the native HD video on the motherboard, and a second, more powerful card for gaming, animation, or video editing. Under Windows 7 the independent card was only activated for certain software, and I had no easy way of forcing its use. Windows 10 has asked me if I want to use the independent graphics card to display every program I’ve run – including simply accessing the Control Panel. On that subject, the hybrid interface, makes accessing all your files and programs simple, and the Microsoft App store makes many more tools quickly available. While 10 was clearly designed with desktop/laptop users in mind, if you have a tablet running Windows 10 you can enable a “Tablet Mode” which removes the start menu and taskbar and replaces it with a more Windows 8 like button and tile interface.

That’s not to say that everything in Windows 10 is a great decision – namely, the WiFi Sense feature. Now, this has gotten far more hatred than it deserves; it’s not sharing your WiFi with everyone, but if someone on your contacts list comes into your WiFi range then they have access to your network. That said, it is also on by default, and any feature that can be perceived as a privacy issue should never be on by default. More annoyingly, while previous versions of Windows allowed you to select the feedback you sent to Microsoft when you first installed the OS, Windows 10 sends feedback automatically by default – again, anything related to privacy should neverbe on by default, and this one cannot be disabled. Lastly, you can no longer select which updates you wish to install in Windows 10 – all updates available are automatically downloaded and applied. In the Professional edition, you have the option to defer updates, but home users do not get that opportunity. However, these are minor complaints unless you are extremely security conscious.

So, should you upgrade? You should definitely consider it. If you are currently running Windows 8 or 8.1, I would strongly suggest upgrading due to the increased user-friendliness of the layout. Having tested it on a Windows tablet, I find the Tablet Mode more useful than Windows 8 attempt to hybridize two platforms, and the standard Windows 10 desktop is far more useful than the Windows 8 default. If you’re running Windows 7, though, you may want to wait a few update cycles; I would, however, definitely update during the year that the upgrade is available for free, as Windows 7 will soon be moving in to legacy status and fewer security and functionality updates will be pushed out, and eventually the patches for 7 will stop entirely.

And, ultimately, it’s that the upgrade is free for the first year that sells it. When I heard, initially, that the upgrade would be offered freely, I anticipated a minor improvement to Windows 8, and planned to upgrade only to avoid the inevitable phasing out of support for Windows 7. Now, after a week of use, I’m glad to have done the upgrade, and I’m impressed with a Microsoft OS for the first time in half-a-decade.

Sam Link
System Services Librarian
slink@gchrl.org