I thought I’d have a play with one of the new Windows 10 machines and let people know how it feels for a regular Win 7 user to be dropped into the deep end of Win 10.
Dave loves new tech (and retro tech and any kind of tech) – which is great because he enjoys keeping up with anything his clients might throw at him. I tend to prefer the comforts of familiar formats and my PC is still running Win 7. The new “tiles” that Win 8 and Win 10 use are all new to me, and I waited until Dave left the house so I could explore without too many helpful tips (he lives to help me with new tech :))
I’m just going to write down my thoughts as I try to use the new Win 10 platform.
Windows 10 – First Impressions
It has a start menu and the familiar task bar at the bottom – which is great because I’m a bit lost on my daughters Win 8 machine.
I was easily able to find Microsoft Word in the Start Menu by scrolling down (and it offered me a new blank document with one click, so thumbs up there). The tiles are a very new look for me, but once I started reading them they made sense, scrolling my mouse wheel gave me more options and I can drag the menu over to see more things at once. That’s all fairly intuitive so far.
I can drag and drop the tiles, to move Word to the top of the screen or re-arrange things any way I like, but the photos in the newsfeed keep changing. That’s a bit mesmerising and distracting, but a simple right click on the distracting items gives me the option to unpin them from the start menu, turn live tile off (which I correctly assume means it will stop changing), resize the tile or pin it to the start bar at the bottom. I‘m feeling quite clever so far at finding my way around!
I can see my Word document on the task bar to reopen it and I want to see what happens if I have more than one Word document open at the same time.
Oh right – I can change that setting in the TaskBar Properties the same way I would in Win7 (right click on a blank spot in the TaskBar).
I also found the handy TaskView button which shows me all my open documents.
Oh, and the Show Desktop icon is still there in the same place, though it’s smaller and doesn’t say “Show Desktop” like my Win7 one. (I actually had to cheat and get Dave to point it out to me when he came home). Its OK – I laughed at myself too.
Right clicking on the background also brings up some customised settings – and if I choose Personalise I can add my own photo as a background, and also change the accent colour. It doesn’t change the colours in Word, just the desktop colours. I think I like the original black better anyway.
Going back to the TaskView button I noticed that I have the option to add a New desktop, so let’s give that a try.
I assumed that was going to let me have a different colour scheme and backgrounds so each user can create their own look, but all the desktops changed to the new background.
What it did do was let me have different sets of documents open on each desktop.
So if I hover over Desktop 1 shows me the documents that are open on that desktop. Hovering over Desktop 2 shows me which documents are open there, and I can click to start using them.
I suppose that would be handy if the boss walked in, because I could switch to the desktop with my work on it… and the more I think about it the more the idea is growing on me.
If I had to switch between two tasks – and each task required a different set of documents – that could be very useful. I often have a LOT of apps open, so I could have my email and calendar in one desktop with my spread sheets in another, keeping everything neat.
It only took a couple of clicks to create / delete and move between desktops, so I think I would really use that. Actually, I suspect once I start using it I will wonder how I lived without it.
Just from right clicking and playing around a little I can see a lot of customisation options, and they are all pretty intuitive. I think I could really like this new look.
The Action Centre was another item I’ve seen reviewers talk about – I actually had to get Dave to show me where it was because the icon says “No new Notifications” (bottom right of the task bar.) It offers a quick way to connect to a new wireless network or change my screen brightness, and it looks like it will tell me if I have any updates to run.
This one wasn’t terribly exciting for me, but I suppose having everything in one place is an advantage.
Win 10 New Apps and Features
So I’ve explored the Desktop, Start Menu and Action Centre and I’m ready to see some new features. (Spoiler – the Photo App is almost worth Upgrading for on it’s own).
Win 10 File Explorer
The new File Explorer has a slightly different look – the folder icon is a bit different to Win7, but easily recognisable. Everything opens up the same way and acts like I would expect it to.
I do really like the Quicklinks – just right clicking on a folder that I use all the time adds it to the Quicklinks at the top of the menu.
I know I could create shortcuts in Win7, but its so much easier in Win10 that you could add a Quicklink just for one task, and then take it off at the end of the day. Windows 10 really seems to encourage customisation.
Microsoft Edge – the new Internet Explorer.
Ok Wow – I don’t like that. It’s got ads flashing at me from the start which feels very intrusive. But I can enter my search … and its Bing? I have no idea whether that’s good or bad, I usually use Google. Dave says Bing is the default but it can be changed to Google if you prefer it.
My search results come up normally, Control clicking opens the page in new tab as usual… that’s getting less scary.
The Star lets me add to favourites, and the stack of documents gives me a chance to see my favourites, save a reading list of web sites to read later or see my history. That’s pretty easy to use.
This is different – I can Make a Web Note and scribble on a web page, type a note and then share or save it to OneNote. I haven’t used OneNote but it looks like I need an account to save and share the scribbled on web pages.
So it looks like there are some new features to explore, but I seem to be able to find everything.
I do feel that this is designed to keep me permanently glued to my computer. Between being able to pin the live tile of my favourite web site to the Start Menu (so I can be distracted by articles before I’ve even logged on to FaceBook) and saving all of these web pages to read at some future time… its all a bit too handy. Ba humbug.
Win 10 Photos App.
I’ve seen some good reviews about the new photo viewer, so let’s see if I can find it! Yup, there’s a live tile in the start menu. And I’ve already figured out that a live tile is one that changes while I’m watching it, so I’ll presumably be able to see it flick through my photos from within the start menu once I’ve added a few pictures to it.
OK – this does exactly what I want to do to a photo – boost the contrast, colour and brightness and it’s all just intuitive to me – you click the category on the left and your options open on the right. Basic fixes has cropping, red eye etc, Filters offer different effects, Light offers brightness and contrast and so on. If I choose Light and want to adjust the Contrast it gives me a circle and scrolling the mouse wheel lets me add or subtract that effect. Very simple and fast.
If I want to delete backgrounds or get really creative with my wrinkle remover I will still need photoshop, but that looks amazing for a quick photo touch up before sharing. And I can share straight from this program. It even has a compare button so I can see what impact my last change had.
Well, I’m sold on that.
Windows 10 Calendar
Windows 10 comes with it’s own Calendar and while I didn’t get a chance to play with it I have seen Daves and it looks great. You can use multiple calendars (eg one for Personal and one for Business), it shows you the name of each appointment in month view (which my current calendar doesn’t do) and it’s all colour co-ordinated.
Dave says that it syncs with his Outlook.com calendar across his laptops, desktops and phones and he’s been really pleased with it since going to Windows 10 on his main PC.
From the perspective of an average user, going straight from Win7 to Windows 10 I think it went pretty well.
It looks very different, yet I could find my way around quite easily and begin customising things to the way I want them. Just having the quicklink of the folder I was saving photos to saved me a tonne of time, so Microsoft do seem to have thought about helping users to work more efficiently.
I did find some of the scrolling icons a little distracting and intrusive, and I can see that I would probably give in and want to try the One Note and One Drive options being offered.
I have some mixed feelings about whether these improvements would make me work more efficiently vs how much more of my time would be spent managing my ‘handy’ new abilities and accounts (or being mesmerised by the changing live tiles…)
Overall I think Win 10 is pretty good. I’m probably not going grab the upgrade immediately… though I’m drooling a bit over the Photo app, and looking back at my old Win7 desktop everything seems a bit less shiny over there… so I may not hold out for very long.
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