Sunday, 16 November 2014

Windows 10 review

OK, I've been pretty scathing about the windows 8 operating system in the past. Being a power user who does not have a touch screen on my PC, I found the metro user interface problematic. It appears that I was not alone in my opinions.

So when the beta preview of Windows 10 came around, I was intrigued as to what Microsoft's reaction would be. Would they learn and evolve from the public reaction, or would they simply keep digging? Given that they had invested a lot on development of the Microsoft Surface platform, their response will probably say a lot about their future commitment to PCs and standard laptops.

I had  3 main issues with Windows 8 - the tablet oriented user interface, the over-engineering of screen navigation that seemed to slow the experience down, and the general weightiness of the operating system. It seemed stable and reliable, just too cumbersome and onerous to work with a keyboard and mouse.

Firstly, I must say that my testing was done on a virtual machine. It installed flawlessly, and set up a Microsoft email address. The setting up was logical and simple to follow, just like the Windows 8 operating system I last used. No surprises.

I was warmly greeted by the familiar sight of a start button and menu bar. Microsoft pioneered this type of user interface with Windows 95. Almost all other operating systems use a variation of the start menu - with good reason. It works. The start button was the one thing I missed when I moved over to Apple. Clicking on the button revealed a broader start pane, with aspects of the metro panes integrated into it. So the business community is going to be pleased about that. They will get the traditional user interface that won't cause compatibility issues with their proprietary applications. It also works great with vmware (I tested on 'Boxes' and 'VirtualBox').

The general feel of the operating system is one similar to Windows 7 in layout. But there is one trick up the sleeve.. Windows 10 is very lean. I was able to dial the ram down to 2gb, and the menu and explorer still ran quickly. This is going to please another part of Microsoft's followers - PC gamers.

So all in all, from what I have seen so far, Windows 10 is a good step for Microsoft. But this is only the beta preview, and a lot can happen between this test and arrival on the market. So here is my advice to Microsoft about how to keep this improvement going:

1.  Engage with manufacturers to make sure they don't bundle their PC/laptops with ridiculous proprietary applications that can already be done by Windows (media players and disk burning suites, I'm looking at you!)

2.  Find a way to reassure business and retail customers that their data is safe from government spying on a Windows machine.

3.  Engage directly with as many service providers who can deploy over the internet - banks, cloud providers, software developers. There is still a lot that can be done to make Windows into a platform that can integrate data, systems and services for everyone.

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