The reviews are good. So has Microsoft finally got it right with Windows 10? The new operating system (OS), available as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 (not including corporate) users, is built from the ground up to pursue Microsoft’s vision of a unified OS that spans all devices without alienating any one platform. Windows 10 is designed so that a single user experience spans every piece of technology – laptops, tablets, desktops, phones and everything in between. (And in case you’re wondering: there is no “Windows 9” – Microsoft skipped it, going straight from 8 to 10).
This new OS is chock-full of fresh features. To name just a few: a lean, fast Internet Explorer replacement called Edge; Microsoft’s Siri-like voice-controlled virtual assistant, Cortana; and the ability to stream real-time games to your desktop from an Xbox One in another room.
So, what is the new OS like for business users? Well, Windows 10 is a welcome return to form. The Start menu, inexplicably removed from Windows 8, is back and working the way you expect it to. Those live tiles from the Windows 8 home screen still exist, but they’ve been attached to the Start menu, where they make a lot more sense. The good old Start button has been a fixture on the lower left corner of the Windows desktop since the days of Windows 95, offering speedy access to apps and settings. The entire Start menu can be shrunk or expanded to suit your liking. It’s essentially a miniaturized version of the full screen Start menu we saw in Windows 8. If you don’t like the tiles you can unpin them, leaving you with the narrow column of frequently used apps that is well known to all Windows users.
Instead of placing a search box in the Start menu, or hiding it completely as is the case in Windows 8, Windows 10 sticks it front and centre on the Taskbar. This is a smart move, as it’s always there ready to serve up whatever you need to find or want to know. The first time you click on the box, you’ll see a prompt to enable Cortana. That’s because Cortana and search are pretty much one and the same in Windows 10. In fact, search is just part of the virtual assistant’s remit.
Unless there’s a specific feature in Windows 7 or Windows 8 that you can’t live without the new features combined with the familiarity of Windows 7 make the new OS very attractive. It’s even better if you have several devices which can run Windows 10 – particularly a phone – as the tight integration means you can set reminders on the go and pick them up on your PC, say, when you get home or into the office. That’s just one tiny example, of course. The bottom line is that Windows 10 is a great operating system. Indeed it’s fair to say even at this early stage that it’s the best Windows yet. It’s not perfect, of course, and there will undoubtedly be bugs that need fixing, so expect patches and updates very soon. However, as Windows 10 matures, there is no reason why businesses won’t start the transition across to the new system.