Windows 10, which was launched on July 29th and has already been downloaded over 14 million times.
The operating system has come with a large number of pros, however there are some significant cons too which you need to look into.
While some Windows 7 and Windows 8 users will not get Windows 10 free through an upgrade, a number will be buying and the operating system and ‘Windows 10 Home’ and ‘Windows 10 Pro’ editions retail for $119 and $199 respectively.
Some of the biggest benefits of this are:
- Apps in the new Windows Store will run on any device which means a single version of Angry Birds works everywhere.
- Microsoft’s ‘Continuum’ feature allows you to potentially connect a phone or tablet to a monitor and keyboard and use it like a PC. Yes Windows 10 really does run through every device and the user interface can adapt to its environment – be that phone, tablet or PC and touch, mouse or keyboard interaction.
- Windows 10 brings with it DirectX 12 and for serious gamers this is a must have. Initial reports suggested DX12 would bring a 30-40% performance gain over DX11 and whereas the reality is closer to 10-20% that’s still money for old rope. Windows 7 and Windows 8 will never get access to DX12.
- Windows 10 also supports streaming games from an Xbox One. Controllers for the Xbox One are compatible with Windows 10 PCs and you can be playing The Witcher 3 on your desktop or laptop in minutes.
- Security – While both Windows 7 and Windows 8 do a pretty good job of keeping users secure, Windows 10 ups its game with several new features. First is ‘Device Guard’ which blocks zero-day attacks by vetting unsigned software programs and apps. Device Guard can also operate virtually so even if it is compromised a remote version can recognise and neutralise malicious software.
- Next is ‘Windows Hello’ which is enhanced biometric support designed to reduce reliance on passwords by using your face, iris, or fingerprint. You’ll need hardware support for this on your device (webcam, fingerprint reader, etc) but initial feedback is it works well and again should improve over the lifetime of Windows 10.
- Windows 10 Microsoft now delivers security patches outside Windows Update so they go straight to your computer the moment they are available. In theory this means Windows 10 computers are always up-to-date which gives hackers a much harder time, even if there are also some notable downsides.
When it comes to the cons, take a look at these disadvantages:
- Stability: Windows 10 is brand new and it has launched with a surprisingly large number of bugs which you won’t find in Windows 7 or Windows 8. Microsoft is about to release a massive one gigabyte download of bug fixes, which gives you an idea of the scale. These numerous patches always bring new bugs of their own.
- Mandatory Updates – Windows 10 may be more secure and up-to-date because of this, but Microsoft’s decision to force updates upon users also has significant downsides. This has included automatically installing a broken graphics driver which crashed displays, a security patch which crashed Windows Explorer and more.
- Brutal Enforcement Policies – Of course mandatory updates have led to many users devising elabourate ways to sidestep Windows 10 patches, but there’s little point in this. Microsoft requires users to accept these terms in its Windows 10 EULA (end user licence agreement) and security updates now sidestep Windows Update and are installed to all versions of Windows 10 without warning.
- Ease of Use – In fairness Windows 7 is so ubiquitous that Windows 10 was never going to be more intuitive to use than its much loved forebear. That said Windows 10 is more intuitive than Windows 8 and much of that comes down to the return of the Start Menu.
- Lost Features – This won’t affect too many users, but the fact is Windows 10 does kill some features Windows 7 and Windows 8 users consider essential. Anexample is Windows Media Center which is a mainstay in some home media setup Games like Solitaire have been removed and are now ad supported from the Windows Store with payment required to remove them.
- Internet Broadband use: Windows 10’s mandatory update policy means more increased data usage. The new OS uses a peer-to-peer (p2p) update distribution system called ‘Windows Update Delivery Optimization’ (WUDO).
The benefit of WUDO is that once one Windows 10 device has downloaded the latest updates it will automatically distribute them to other PCs on your network, saving time. The problem is your PC will also start to share this update with other PCs around the world that still need it. This takes the pressure off Microsoft’s servers but also means Windows 10 will consume more of your bandwidth than Windows 7 or Windows 8, neither of which do this.
The good news for those on metered connections is this can be changed by going to:
Settings > Update & Security > the Windows Update section > Advanced options
Select PCs on my local network only for WUDO to only be used for your PCs, or
Switch it off so each PC has to get their own downloads
While the option to disable is nice, WUDO is another example of where Microsoft should be more transparent with Windows 10 and let them know upfront what their devices will be doing behind their backs by default.