What to Expect
Both happy … windows 7 users and Windows 8 users
If you’re one of the millions of Windows 7 or Windows 8 users, you may have received a little notification this week letting you know that you’re eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10. (If you haven’t and are feeling left out, you can download the upgrade direct from Microsoft. There’s no rush to grab it; the free offer is good for a year.
But you may want to jump in sooner than later. has a number of cool and useful improvements. Among them are Cortana, a personal software agent similar to Apple’s Siri that can answer all kinds of questions and offer helpful reminders. There’s now support for multiple desktops like those in Mac OS X. And then there’s Microsoft Edge, the company’s new browser that replaces crusty old Internet Explorer (which is still there — and still crusty – if you need it). Edge allows you to mark up Web pages to send to associates and friends.
But your experience with Windows 10 will differ a lot depending on whether you’re upgrading from — and familiar with — Windows 7 or 8.
If you were a user of Windows 7 who passed over Windows 8 because you liked the consistency of the desktop experience, you’ll notice some traces of Windows 8 has seeped into Windows 10. These include a large (but removable) pane of Live Tiles that have grown off the right side of the Start menu and large type and translucent background that now appear when you click on the Wi-Fi hotspot menu in the system tray.
If you were a user of Windows 8, you’ll notice some big changes. The desktop has once again taken over as the main launching pad for Windows and that moving the cursor into the corners doesn’t activate slide-in menus Indeed, what happens when you swipe in from the left or right has changed. Swiping in from the left still allows you to switch to an app, but in a bigger, better and less confusing interface. Swiping in from the right, though, no longer activates Charms, the little-used commands to do things such as print and share. Rather, it brings up a smartphone-like panel to control a whole bunch of shortcuts such as Brightness, Airplane Mode and Quiet Mode (aka Do Not Disturb).
Another option is Tablet Mode. If you miss the old Start screen, you can enter Tablet Mode. And for users of “2-in-1” devices such as the Acer Switch 10 or hybrid devices where the keyboard rotates behind the screen like the Lenovo Yoga 3, Windows 10 has a feature called Continuum that will put the device in Tablet mode when appropriate. Had this been available in Windows 8, it could have made all the difference.
But the beauty of software is that it’s never too late to fix mistakes. Microsoft has done a lot more than that in Windows 10. Long-time users of Windows will find themselves mostly at home, and those who preferred the way things worked in Windows 8 can get most of that back. And unlike with Windows 8, there are a number of functional improvements that make working with Windows better regardless of whether you touch or click.