Windows 10 has arrived - a short recap

Friday, July 31, 2015 1:39 PM UTC

In this post I want to write about my upgrade journey to Windows 10 though I basically hate Windows.

First attempt: Software Upgrade on Windows 8.1

The first try was on a Lenovo Ideapad with Windows 8.1. Here I tried to use the Windows Update itself as the notification icon told me so. I started the upgrade process and it started to download approx. 2.3GB. As I tried this on the very first day the bandwith was poor. It took 4h to load 37% of all, so I stopped it as I had to leave this machine.

Second attempt: ISO download and usage

This is the machine that I performed the update on: Acer Aspire 7741, Core i5 M430, 8GB RAM, Samsung Evo 840 SSD 500GB, ATI Radeon HD5650 1GB.

I downloaded one of the ISOs available from Microsoft's site. I chose 64bit German. The ISO was bootable - at least in a VM. It wasn't when using it from a USB stick that I prepared using Rufus. Rufus creates bootable USB media but with this image: no luck. Because I haven't had a DVD to burn the ISO to I just opened the USB stick via Explorer and started the setup.exe on my running Windows 7 machine. This was the solution and the setup process started. It also took about 30 minutes to copy the files and another 30 minutes to configure the system by the setup program. On the english download page there is a "Media Creation Tool" available, on the german site which I used, there was no link to it. Like the prior updates, the installer backed up the prior version of Windows in a folder called Windows.old so you get the chance to roll the update back. I never tried that rollback before so I killed the folder later as it consumed 24GB.

A first look told me that most of my peripheral devices worked. Those were not only keyboard, mouse and external drives but complex devices such as MIDI keyboards and audio interfaces. Yes, I updated my home studio machine. Even the DAW software (Reaper) was still working perfectly - great! I was confident to have a working system.

Some teething problems though

Of course: this system is not perfect. It is not stable. It is new and this final version is just a few days old. Though we tested the previews over the last months there will always be constellations that will cause problems on your individual machine. What I saw and "felt" from the beginning was quite nice. But there are some caveats and inconsistencies that I want to emphasize.

The new UI

It's back - the start menu. The "metro" screen with touch friendly tiles is gone (except you active the tablet mode or set the start menu to appear in full screen mode - yes you can!). The tiles are now also part of the start menu beside the reordered but well known start list with access to common folders and all applications. The shutdown menu is also there. The colors are decent. All elements of the taskbar and the start menu are transparent. You can tweak the accent colours manually or set them to automatically adjust to the chosen wallpaper. Most of the menus and context menus are touch optimized as we know them from the native apps - but some are not. For example, the menus in explorer windows are as usual: tiny and light grey, the app menus are black and bigger and therefor touch enabled.

At least Microsoft added shadows to windows again - we missed that badly during the 8/8.1 period. Shadows are helpful to recognize the acitve window.

Another new part is the notification area in the system tray: new icons for the system tasks and infos and the new notification icon which brings up a sidebar with all messages from various programs. You can tweak which messages should appear here.

Virtual desktops. Yes, Microsoft finally created them in Windows after Linux and MacOS have this nice feature for years. You can create new desktops and move application windows to them. There are also hotkeys to switch between them (see the settings paragraph below)

Microsoft Edge

This is the new browser from Microsoft. It's NOT an Internet Explorer as it is created from the scratch. My first impression is quite positive. It's fast, it's stylish and it doesn't bother you with questions when you start it for the first time like IE does. I did not heavily test it but it has some nice features such as the read mode (images are hidden and the texts are formatted in a very readable way) and the marking options. In read mode you can then create your own annotations and text marks with colored markers - nice feature which would work best on the touch device such as a tablet, but you can also use it with a mouse on a desktop.

But there are issues: still no protection available, you open website without any malware or ad blocker. This is an epic fail, Microsoft! Maybe there will be addons that give security and prevent you from loading malicious content. Until then you have to trust your virus scanner - which is a must have on a Windows system anyway. Another thing might interest the EU court: Microsoft resets your default browser setting to Edge after the upgrade - also a "no go" (http://techcrunch.com/2015/07/30/pushed-over-the-edge/).

With all the problems in Edge and the freezing in my Chrome (see drivers section) I now switched to Firefox. This is very bad as I used Chrome for development a lot.

Hey, Cortana!

Like Siri or Google Windows 10 is able to understand you with voice recognition but also by text inputs. It's intended to be your personal assistant. You can issue searches from here and even create calendar entries etc. I didn't do much with it yet. One thing that is different in the final version: there is no input field in the taskbar anymore but just an icon. When you click here you can type and also speak after clicking the mic icon.

Please update your drivers!

As far as possible, you should search for the latest drivers for your hardware. In my case I had to upgrade the graphics driver for my ATI Radeon HD5650 Mobile as I had freezes in Google Chrome while browsing and crashes when opening flash movies such as Youtube. Google Chrome still keeps freezing sometimes but it doesn't crash anymore. I think Chrome isn't compatible with Windows 10, yet. I also still have a problem with my cable network (Realtek Ethernet). Wireless LAN works perfectly. I hope the drivers will updated soon.

Settings and Settings

One thing that is really annoying is the inconstistency in the way to reach a specific option or function. For excample: you can open the system settings (control panel) via the start menu. You then get the new designed panel. The options behind are also new designed - and some settings are missing here. Microsoft wants to keep the user dumb - as in the previous new versions before. Remember the change from Windows XP to Windows Vista - nothing was there as expected.

To open the old fashioned but complete control panel (yes, it's still here), use the Win+X shortcut which brings up the settings menu. There you can choose the control panel and it will appear as you know it. The Win+X key turns out to be my favorite shortcut as you have access to any important action here - even the shutdown action. Windows 10 comes with new shortcuts and modifies others from Windows 8, for example Win+C doesn't open the charms bar (yes, this useless crap was removed finally!) but opens Cortana, the personal assistant. A great overview of the new shortcuts can be found here: http://www.howtogeek.com/198122/32-new-keyboard-shortcuts-in-the-windows-10-technical-preview/

Again: privacy issues

We are used that Microsoft gives a shit about privacy in their applications and Windows 10 is no exception. There are several issues detected but one is very annoying though it's not really regarding privacy but maybe costs: see this article for more information and also the links at the end: http://thenextweb.com/microsoft/2015/07/30/windows-10-steals-your-bandwidth-to-send-other-people-updates/

and

https://i.imgur.com/iHge6RJ.jpg

Resume

Windows 10 is far away from being perfect. It's not the best Windows ever as some said. I am confident to get it more stable in the near future with updates. At this time it is at least faster than Windows 7. I used Windows 8.1 for over 4 months now and I got used to it so I am quite happy with 10 - though my greatest concern is that I cannot use Chrome at the moment.






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