As you may have heard by now, Microsoft is gearing up to release the latest version of Windows, aptly named “Windows 10” at the end of July. So Whats the deal with this new version of Windows? Who is it for? How Much will it cost me? Will it work with my PC? What if I don’t like it? I”m running XP and its fine, why bother to upgrade? All this and more will be answered throughout this post, so just sit back, relax, and continue to read.
Let’s start with the most basic question everyone want’s to know: “What happened to Windows 9?”. The answer is simple – Microsoft was going to call it Windows 9, until that name leaked early, and decided that Windows 10 actually sounded better. In our opinion – Windows X would be cool, but Apple might have some issues with that.
But let’s get real – the majority of you reading this right now on Windows based PC’s are probably using Windows 7 / XP with a small chunk using Windows 8.1. Why is it so important to upgrade anyway? Well the first reason is security: Windows 10 has more of it natively built in to protect your files. In this day and age its important. As older versions of Windows continue to age, Microsoft spends millions of dollars a year providing a regular flow of updates and patches to older systems. They rather spend that money on a brand new system. Microsoft officially ended support for Windows XP not to long ago, and Windows 7 is set to stop receiving support in a few years. Windows 8.1 will likely also likely see support dropped by the early 2020’s. This is not on account of Microsoft trying to pry money out of its customers to get them to upgrade, this is because they are aiming towards a “One platform for all” system.
Windows 10 will be available to the public starting July 29th. For the first year following its release, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for anyone currently running Windows 7 /8.1 . It does not matter how old your system is, or how many PC’s you own – if they are eligible, you will be able to upgrade for free! But say you are running Linux or Mac OS or some other platform and are interested in installing Windows 10 alongside your current OS? You can purchase it! Windows 10 Home will cost $119. Windows 10 Pro will cost $199.
Now, as far as upgrading the system goes, Microsoft will release a compatibility checker that will be easy to install and run. This program will determine if there will be any hardware issues that need to be addressed before continuing with the upgrade process. If your PC lacks an adequate amount of RAM or CPU power to run Windows 10, users will be informed of these issues first.
First off, one of the big complaints about Windows 8.1 , was that the the traditional start button had been replaced with the “Metro UI”. Metro was designed as an interface for tablets, and it did not quite work with notebooks / desktops. Even tablet users were a bit annoyed. Was it cool – certainly. Did it make getting work done easier? Nope. But Metro was a cool idea. So Microsoft decided to go back to basics with the traditional start menu, and spice things up by adding Metro to the mix. Its actually a nice addition.
Next up we have the new “Edge” browser, the long awaited update to Microsoft’s Internet Explorer. Edge was originally called “Project Spartan”, and was designed as a much faster and lighter replacement for IE 11. One of Edges primary features is the ability to highlight and circle objects on screen so that they can be saved for later viewing. This function is especially useful for those using tablets / touch screens.
Next we have Cortana, the digital assistant. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. Unlike Siri, it is an integral part of the operating system, and furthermore, it actually works really nicely.
Then we have “Tablet Mode” , this mode allows users to take advantage of hybrid / 2-in-1 devices that switch between being used as a tablet / notebook. The idea is that as soon as Windows detects your tablet has been detached from the keyboard dock, it switches into a usage mode optimized for tablets. Reconnect your keyboard, and it switches back to the regular desktop mode.
Moving on, Microsoft is introducing multiple desktops. This allows users to have multiple programs running in the background , but keeping them “separate” from their main working screen. Whats the difference between this and just minimizing programs? It’s simple, this way your programs can remain open, but your desktop you are working on wont be cluttered with the other open programs, and when you need to access an application, its very quick to do so. Of course users who prefer to have multiple programs cluttering their desktop can still do so.
Additionally, Microsoft is introducing “ContinuumMode” which allows users to continue their work on their Windows 10 phones when away from the desktop. Microsoft’s end goal here is to have a unified OS that works across multiple platforms and allows users to continue working on their projects across a variety of devices while on the go, without having to deal with separate operating systems and interfaces. To make things even better, Microsoft claims this version of Windows will be the “Last version of Windows”. Now that does not mean Microsoft is releasing this and then hanging up the towel. What it means is that, Microsoft will continue to release updates to improve this version for windows and it will evolve, but unlike older versions, major improvements wont require an entire installation of the OS. In fact Microsoft is finally taking the Apple approach to updates so that users wont be bogged down by constantly having to restart their system. This is a major improvement over older versions of Windows, and will be a welcome change to long time users.
Finally – for all the gamers out there – Xbox One integration! So say you own an Xbox One, but its in your living room connected to your TV. Your brother is having a “Game Of Thrones” viewing party, and you need to level up in (Insert game name here), now you can stream your Xbox One games to your PC! Granted the experience might be different, but it is coming. Furthermore users will have the ability to record game play straight to their PC’s. Similarly, the Xbox One is going to have its own version of Windows 10 available for download, essentially turning it into a proper PC.
It also needs to be pointed out that Windows 10 is incredibly stable and efficient. It works well even on basic hardware, and the new and improved Direct X 12 graphics engine is designed to squeeze as much power as possible out of even the most graphics cards. So even if your device is a simple Netbook, your internet browsing, and video streaming experience is going to get a whole lot smoother.
About Benny Sabghir: Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Benny enjoys all aspects of consumer electronics - especially writing about it. He also enjoys hitting the gym, running and discussing the history of his three favorite wars - The American Revolution, The Six-Day War, and the Star Wars Trilogy. Currently in Jerusalem, Israel. Follow him on twitter @Sabghir_Benny Find him on Google+ View author profile.