Windows 10 is available for download today. If anyone had noticed, there is a link in the notification tray for systems running Windows 7 and 8/8.1 offering a free upgrade that’s valid for a year. I wasn’t part of the Windows Insider Program though I followed the news on developments. A modified version of the Start Menu is back that combines search, applications, and the Start Page from Windows 8. Aside from the deeper integration to OneDrive, Windows 10 gets Cortana, a virtual personal assistant that learns more detail about a user over time in order to be more helpful. Personal assistants are all the rage these days with Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Amazon Echo. As John Lennon sang in I Am The Walrus, “Ompa Ompa Everybody’s got one.”
I’m not personally a fan talking to a computer though I can see the utility in integrating this technology into operating systems, especially mobile. I’m a desktop guy through and through. I have an Android tablet that I use to play solitaire when I’m on the train. Other than that, all my real work is on the desktop. It’s nice that Microsoft doesn’t force this kind of interactivity on people as it is possible to turn Cortana off and/or clear the accumulated information. My biggest question about this data is how secure it will be? Hackers might find it interesting. I’m going to wait for that story to break.
Windows 10 has had favorable reviews given the reception to the radical change Windows 8 brought to computing. A lot of people felt that the changes were forced on them with no regard as to how they actually used Windows. The Windows blog entries by former head of Windows development, Steve Sinofsky basically stated that features and design were driven by telemetry from people who used Windows 7 and the test versions of Windows 8. He left the company shortly after Windows 8 went public. I wonder why.
This version of Windows, suggested to be the last, took into account tester comments as well as a more detailed look as to how people used the system. Thus there are a lot of familiar features with new that are for the most part customizable. I can appreciate that. My desktop in Windows 7 looks an awful like XP even down to the bland task bar and desktop shortcuts. What can I say, I’m a sentimentalist.
I plan to upgrade my two desktop computers, though not immediately. I just want to make sure that the mass upgrade process goes smoothly. Any bugs or annoyances should work themselves out in the next month or so. I’m looking forward to the upgrades in any event. I’ll report more on the experience once I get the software on my machines. A guide to Windows 10, features, and the upgrade process is available here from Microsoft.