Should I upgrade to Windows 10? Find out if Microsoft’s latest OS is right for you
GETTY • MICROSOFT
Is it time for you to take advantage of Microsoft's upgrade scheme and embrace Windows 10?
Microsoft’s latest operating system has racked up an impressive 200 million activations within the last eight months alone, the fastest adoption rate of any previous Microsoft operating system. That also makes it more popular than Windows 8, although it still lags behind the trusted Windows 7.
So, is it time for you to upgrade your home or work machine to Microsoft’s latest operating system? Express.co.uk has spent some extended time with Windows 10, running on an HP Spectre netbook and Surface Pro 4.
Windows 10 is a brilliant desktop operating system. And a phenomenal upgrade from Windows 8.
But its not perfect, and it’s certainly not for everyone.
From now on, Windows 10 will start to install automatically on…
Microsoft just spent £174million on this predictive keyboard app
Should I upgrade to Windows 10?
First of all, if you use a desktop computer with an old fashioned mouse and keyboard, and you happen to be running Windows 8 or Windows 8.1 – stop reading this article right now, and upgrade your machine.
Windows 10 returns the Start Menu to its rightful place, which makes the next-generation operating system much friendlier to those working on traditional desktop set-ups. Quick access to All Apps, Settings, Power options and File Explorer all make a welcome return to the stylish, new-look menu.
Long-term Windows users will immediately feel familiar with the improved Start Menu, which now comes with a crop of live tiles that constantly refresh with small snippets of information. For example, the News app will scroll through the latest headlines and updates within the Start Menu.
Windows 10 hopes to cater to mobile, casual, desktop and professional users
It’s a nice tweak and – more importantly – is almost entirely-optional.
Users can resize the Start Menu by dragging on its corner, so you can choose to include more live tiles in your Start Menu if you find them useful, or shrink down the window to its bare essentials.
If you’re running a two-in-one hybrid, like the staggeringly impressive Microsoft Surface Pro 4, Windows will expand this Start Menu to fill the entire screen, when launched without a keyboard attached. This tablet-optimised view makes navigating around the live tiles and menus with a fingertip much easier.
Surface Pro 4 review: Finally! The tablet you’ll actually want to…
Windows 10 review: Is it finally time to upgrade your computer?
However, Windows 10 is not always so well polished when it comes to catering to those working on touchscreen devices. Microsoft’s own Snippet screen recording utility, Paint, Notepad and File Explorer apps can be troublesome to use without a mouse, thanks to their minuscule menus and icons designed for cursors – not fingers.
The Redmond technology firm does have a solution to this issue – Universal Apps.
These overhauled apps seamlessly re-size and run across a myriad of different devices, including smartphones, tablets, and desktop computers. And since the app is always the same – its just adapting its user interface to the space at hand – Microsoft has been able to unify its App Store.
MICROSOFT • IG
Microsoft has brought back the Start Menu – and added some stellar new options
So, if you already own a Windows 10 tablet or smartphone, you should probably upgrade the rest of your devices to the new operating system, too. This will allow your purchased apps to transfer across your gadgets.
And that’s another good reason to hit the Upgrade Now button – the continuity and syncing across Windows 10.
For example, the order of the live tiles within your Start Menu and any notifications in the Action Centre are synced across your Windows 10 devices, so you can reply to a text message from your computer or action a notification on your smartphone and the changes will be reflected across your gadgets.
This seamless desktop-to-mobile continuity was previously only available to those firmly entrenched within the Apple ecosystem. If you own multiple Windows devices, you’ll appreciate the ability for them to talk to one another.
Universal Apps expand and retract to fit the size of the display, or the window
Aside from the obvious improvements for those working with a keyboard and mouse, the cohesion with other Windows 10 devices – or Android and iOS smartphones running Microsoft applications, the only other feature worth upgrading for is voice assistant, Cortana.
The proactive voice assistant now permanently lives in the task-bar – as well as your Edge browser – and chips in with usual information, calendar reminders, prompts and more.
Granted, talking to your desktop computer with a cheery "Hey Cortana" is a little weird, so thankfully Microsoft has also included the ability to type out commands to the virtual secretary.
Paste a flight number into Cortana's search field and she’ll bring up the latest flight tracking information, or ask her to remind you to buy milk when you leave the office and she will seamlessly add the geo-fenced prompt to your Microsoft Account.
The more you come to rely on Cortana, the more accurate and useful the information and results become. It’s not going to be for everyone, but those who use Google Now and Siri to keep track of their lives on mobile will love the addition to the latest Microsoft desktop.
Proactive voice assistant Cortana can be incredibly useful on the desktop
Why shouldn’t I upgrade to Windows 10?
For some people, it could simply be a case of “if it’s not broken, don’t fix it”. After all, a slew of Windows 10 users have complained about issues with wifi connectivity after upgrading their existing hardware to the new operating system.
There has also been a number of reported issues around driver incompatibility with the OS.
In a nutshell, if you have an external device that is crucial to your computer set-up – you need to triple-check it works with Windows 10 before you decide to upgrade.
Unfortunately, Express.co.uk has not been able to test these incompatibilities, since we have been running the next-generation operating system on more recent hardware. However if we run into any issues with drivers, wifi connectivity or anything else, we will update this article accordingly.
Another reason you might consider not upgrading your machine to Windows 10 is cost.
Microsoft is currently allowing customers running genuine copies of Windows 7 and Windows 8 the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. But if you’re using an older version of Windows, or an unofficial copy of the operating system, Windows 10 will set you back a hefty £99.99.
And we’re not sure that you will truly get £100 worth of use from the redesigned Start Menu, the addition of Universal Apps, multiple virtual desktops and the ability to ask Cortana to set a few reminders here and there.
Universal Apps are a brilliant addition to Microsoft's operating system
If you’re not eligible for the free upgrade, you might be better served by waiting until you need to upgrade your computer, as your new machine will come with Windows 10 preinstalled.
PC owners who have come to rely on Windows Home Media Centre should look for alternative software suites before upgrading, too. Microsoft ditched the app when it moved to Windows 10.
Microsoft has released a simple DVD player on its App Store. It’s free – for now, but doesn’t offer anywhere near the same functionality as the app it replaces.
Finally, there’s the small matter of Windows 10’s new data collection policies, which are intimidatingly broad.
Windows 10 Home Edition, installed with default settings, has the ability to track and send your hardware details and any subsequent changes you make to them directly to Microsoft. It can also log your internet browser history, keystrokes, Cortana questions and requests, as well as display adverts within your Start Menu.
That might sound like a lot, but Microsoft claims this anonymised data will help it fine-tune Windows 10 to its users needs, iron out any troublesome bugs, and streamline the functionality of features like Cortana.
Despite this, the Redmond technology firm does allow to you to disable some of the Big Brother-esque tracking within its Privacy Settings menu.
However certain core data collection settings cannot be switched off.
Essentially, if the data being siphoned relates to the health and performance of the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft wants to know about it.
Most users probably won’t be unnerved by the stream of information and data being beamed back to Redmond, and those who are can download a number of third-party solutions to block the data collection.
Windows 10 is a phenomenal update.
Despite a few quirks and niggles, Express.co.uk has thoroughly enjoyed using the next-generation operating system.
To read our in-depth review of Windows 10, click here. Windows 10 is available now from Microsoft and select retail stores.