Windows 10 was released on 29 July 2015 and is offered as a free upgrade to existing users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 until 29 July 2016. After this date there will be a charge to upgrade to a later version of Windows.
Microsoft has been working hard in making its software more user friendly. In its release of Windows 10, Microsoft has brought back the Start Menu and corrected the confusion between desktop and tablet. Windows 10 now knows whether you are using your computer in desktop or a tablet mode and delivers you the correct Start Menu, look and feel accordingly – all in one operating system.
In this article, I share my experience of the upgrade process and my first impressions of the operating system on a desktop computer.
Note: In this article the word tablet refers to a Microsoft tablet.
Before starting you need to put aside at least 3 hours for the complete upgrade process – which will require your attention several times.
For existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 (8.1) users a free upgrade is available whereby your installation may be from the Windows Icon in the System Tray or from the Windows Update program (in Windows 7) or Windows Update in the Control Panel (Windows 8).
It starts by downloading the Upgrade file, in my case 2,176.8MB (about 2GB) which took 30 minutes. The download time depends on both your broadband speed as well how fast Microsoft is sending you the file.
Preparing for Installation took 20 minutes.
I had a message saying: “Before Installing Windows Insider Preview, something needs your attention. (This could be to do with Windows Media Centre?), Continue.
During “Preparing for upgrade” I received another message saying that Windows Media Centre will no longer be available.
Preparing for Upgrade: I did not measure the time this took.
I clicked “Start Upgrade Now” which took a further 2 hours and 10 minutes.
Once I logged in the “Setting up your apps” took about 15 minutes.
The New Start Menu
I previously used Classic Shell in Windows 8.1 and lost all my pinned menu items. (Windows 10 allows you to pin any item to the menu).
A white windows logo on a black background is the start menu in the bottom left corner. When clicked you get a block rising from the bottom left corner with 4 areas. Top left: Most Used; Middle left: Recently added; Bottom left: File Explorer, Settings, Power and All Apps; Right Side: Tiles
The Menu is sometimes slow to respond.
More about the Tiles
The Tiles displayed seem to be a random mix of apps and applications into two groups called “Life at a glance” and “Play and Explore”.
I changed “Life at a glance” to “My Most Used” by clicking on it and editing the text and then clicked and moved all my important applications into this area. For each tile I right clicked, chose resize and sized them to what looked best for me. For Apps you get 4 different sizes (Small, Medium, Large and Wide), whilst you only get 2 for Applications (Small and Medium).
The dominant colour on your desktop wallpaper is reflected on the menu tiles, the start button, the underlining of the active apps in the task bar and in system dialogues. If you are using a Theme with multiple wallpaper images then all these will change as your wallpaper changes.
The System Tray has a new icon called “New Notifications”. This is the area where you have quick access to notifications, but more importantly, to your device switches (e.g. bluetooth and wireless switches) and Settings.
Apps: Windows Tablet apps (e.g.: Mail, Weather, News etc.). These are made for tablets but now also work on the desktop.
Applications: Desktop Applications (e.g.: Outlook, Word Excel etc). These are not really designed to work on a tablet.
For Non Tablet users: all Apps work much better on the desktop than in Windows 8 0 or 8.1 and can be resized to any size
Notably after restarting the computer for the first time a new app appeared in the Recently added area of the menu, called Windows DVD Player. This could be the replacement for the missing Windows Media Center I had in Windows 8.1, could be part of a Windows 10 update or could be that it had just detected that one of my drives happed to be a DVD drive and so it installed the DVD player automatically.
I missed the opportunity to change the default apps during the upgrade.
After the upgrade, files were opened using a different program to what I was used to. Windows 10 made changes as follows:
- Sound Files and Music open in Groove Music
- Pictures open in Photos
- Videos open in Films and TV
- Web Browser pages open in Microsoft Edge
You can easily remedy this if you know the application you were using before your upgrade. Simply click Start, Settings, System, Default apps and then click on an item and choose the app you prefer to use.
Personally I am open to change but for now prefer to stick to what I am familiar with:
- Music: Windows Media Player (Other alternatives include: iTunes)
- Pictures: Microsoft Office 2010 – Picture Manager (Other alternatives include: Corel, Adobe Photoshop, Paint)
- Video: Windows Media Player (Other alternatives include: Quicktime)
- Web Browser: Google Chrome (Other alternatives include: Internet Explorer, FireFox, Safari)
Fortunately Email was not changed and Microsoft Outlook remained my default program.
Cortana is the voice activated assistant similar to Siri on an iPhone or “OK Google” on and Android device. It will only work if your computer is logged into your Microsoft Account, you have an approved microphone and your Language and Location settings are correct.
If a computer was set-up correctly for your region in the first place, Cortana should be available in the Start Menu, All Apps area. Select it to run, input your Name and you are then ready to use it straight from the Task Bar.
If it is not there and you are signed in with a Microsoft Account then you need to correct your Region and Language settings, change the Speech setting to match your region and language E.G. English (United Kingdom).
One Drive is the online storage that you get for free, but it also needs you to have logged in with a Microsoft Account.
When File Explorer is opened it shows Quick access in the navigation pane on the left. Quick access has replaced the word Favorites. It also includes Frequent Folders.
Uninstalling Windows 10
You have 1 month to un-install Windows 10 and go back to your previous version (Windows 8.1 or Windows 7). Give Windows 10 a chance first! Go through this document and Get Started below. If Windows 10 has really messed up your life then go to Settings, Update and Security, Select Recovery and if you are still within the month “Go back to Windows 8.1/ 7” will still be there.
Get Started is an App (found in Start, All Apps) that takes you through all the features of Windows 10. Instructions, diagrams and videos walk you through setting up your computer, navigation and connection to the internet.
Do you need help in upgrading?
For Windows 8.1 users, Windows 10 is not a whole new operating system, it is just a significant set of improvements. All software and hardware that ran in Windows 8.1 should have no issues running under Windows 10. Windows 7 users will find Windows 10 a lot faster.
I am now doing upgrades for existing users in the Bristol, UK area only. If you are not in Bristol you are welcome to courier your computer to me. I can arrange this service and charge you accordingly.
If you require any assistance with Windows 10, please contact me (Charges may apply).