Windows 10 Reviews Are In
The reviews for Windows 10 are in. What is the word on the street?
Windows 10 is a pirate’s flag, waving over what was once the kingdom of Steve Ballmer and the other creators of Windows 8. There’s clearly a new crew in charge, and it has a humbler, simpler, more coherent mindset. It’s impossible to overstate how much more sense Windows makes now.
You really are going to love Windows 10. You’ll almost certainly want to upgrade your computers to it, especially since it’s free.
But you might not want to do that tomorrow. I’d suggest you wait six weeks. By then, Microsoft will have swatted most of the bugs, and many of your favorite software companies will have released Windows 10-compatible versions.
If you’re a PC veteran, then you’ll recognize Windows 10: It’s pretty much Windows 7, with Cortana, nicer typography, and a few new features.
And if you’re relatively new to all this, then kneel beside your bed tonight—and thank the OS gods you were spared the emotional whiplash of living through Microsoft’s three-year lapse in sanity.
Windows 10 is hugely exciting. I rarely touch my MacBook Air anymore as I find the combination of some good hardware (like the Dell XPS 13) and Windows 10 is a joy to use. I like the direction Microsoft is taking with Windows 10, accepting feedback and ideas from its customers along the way. It feels like the best way to shape Windows into something people enjoy using, rather than something they have to use.
That’s the nature of the Windows cycle: bad version, then a good version. Windows 10 is a great fix to the problems of Windows 8, and that’s exactly what we all expected. But what about the next version? Oddly, Microsoft says there won’t really be one. This is the “last Windows” and Microsoft will be iterating on it for the coming years. Assuming Microsoft can kill the bugs in this initial release, it’s going to make computers better for billions of people. The best part of Windows 10 is that it ends the cycle of good and bad in favor of something great.
It Still Struggles for Relevance
The biggest problem with Windows 10 is that I have little reason to use it outside of work. At home, I rely on a smartphone, mobile apps and websites that don’t require Windows—and sometimes fit awkwardly in a Windows world.
Windows 10 is a reminder that computer software alone doesn’t equal digital happiness anymore. Among the first things it will ask you to do is log in to a Microsoft account. But it feels like a ham-handed attempt to make us use Microsoft’s own less popular (and inferior) services like OneDrive and Bing.
Many of these services work across devices, but—like Windows smartphones—they’re not worth switching to. The Windows 10 Photos app can sync photos with OneDrive, but it is anemic compared with Google and Apple’s Photos. The same applies to Microsoft’s music service Groove.
The new Edge Web browser, whose standout feature is a note-scribbling gimmick, trails Google’s Chrome in speed or usefulness. And Cortana is not helpful enough to get me to ditch Google for Bing. (There are Android and iPhone Cortana apps coming.)
Strangely, Windows 10 doesn’t even have a special relationship with Microsoft’s own Office suite, a core product for millions. Cortana can’t use Outlook to send emails, schedule meetings or pull up phone numbers. My Outlook calendar can’t show up in my Start Menu live tiles. (Office 2016, which comes out this fall, may address some of these issues.)
Perhaps the best thing about Windows 10 is Microsoft’s tacit acknowledgment that it still has much work to do. Windows will now be a “service,” they say, updating itself constantly.
Wouldn’t it be nice to look outside and see that, overnight, your car became sleeker and more efficient? As long as nobody moves the steering wheel.
A win for the desktop, a side-step for everything else
I’ll make this simple: Windows 10 is the best desktop operating system to date. Mac OS X is solid, and in many ways more intuitive, but it can’t match Windows’ functionality and broad developer support. Apple momentarily stole the crown last year with OS X 10.10, but Microsoft has won it back.
To say Windows 10 is the best desktop OS is not the same as calling it a complete success, however. Edge is in a sorry state, Cortana doesn’t yet live up to the hype, and touchscreen use remains finicky. Microsoft’s success on the desktop has not helped it elsewhere, and the dream of a single do-it-all operating system is no closer to reality now than it was three years ago.
New Start Menu is a worthy successor
Multi-tasking functionality is top-notch
Tablet mode transitions smoothly
Touchscreen use still iffy
Edge web browser lacks support for extensions