The Microsoft platform operating system’s “ins” and “outs”
By Klaus Fuechsel
What is Windows 10? It is the latest version of Microsoft’s operating system, and is now the standard for new computers. Microsoft introduced its first Windows thirty years ago, in response to the growing need for “a graphical operating system (OS) shell for MS-DOS in response to the growing interest in graphical user interfaces (GUIs).” That’s a mouthful of tech talk to just say that users wanted something visually friendlier.
Since then, Microsoft has had some hits and misses as far as achieving this visually-friendly interface. Windows XP, Windows 7, and Windows 10 became market favorites. But comparing different operating systems by version number is like comparing apples with oranges.
Since support for Windows Vista ended in April, many people have bought or upgraded to Windows 10. Windows 7 users are entitled to tech support until 2020, and Windows 8.1 users until 2023. During the first year of Windows 10, the update (from Windows 7 or 8) was free; now you can only get it for free if you use assistive technologies such as a narrator for the blind, and eye tracking machines for those unable to move a mouse, etc.
Does it make sense to upgrade your computer from an old Windows XP or Vista system?
I would not recommend installing Windows 10 on an older computer, even though the minimum requirements for Windows 10 are relatively low: it requires a GHz processor, 1GB (32-bit) or 2GB (64-bit) of memory, 16 GB free hard drive space, a graphics card supporting Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics device with a WDDM driver, a Microsoft account and Internet access. You can only upgrade directly from Windows 7 or 8, in any other case you would need to perform a clean Windows 10 install (install it completely from scratch) and then a transfer of your data and software programs. Also, be aware that some of your favorite software programs might not run under Windows 10 anymore, or you might need to buy software upgrades.
Benefits of Windows 10.
There are many versions of Windows 10 designed to meet different needs and budgets: home, (32/64 bit), mobile, and free versions for education. You can even use Windows 10 on a Raspberry Pi. Windows 10 Pro has many advantages for businesses, such as better networking capabilities and Bitlocker integrated to help protect your hard drive and data.
The Windows platform has grown from a simple DOS program root into a huge tree with a plethora of branches and fruit. If you looked at a cross section of the trunk you would see the many rings and structures that have grown steadily up from its roots over three decades. There is still room to grow, improve, and adapt to the changing tech environment and requirements.
Over the last 2 years Microsoft released some heavy update packages to fix the inevitable bugs, enhance the security, and add new features. Last month Microsoft started releasing the “creator’s update” introducing promising features such as an all-new Paint 3D which now supports 3D objects, even turning 2D images into 3D.
Use “Game Mode” to dedicate more system resources to your game. Microsoft Edge (the web browser) is better, more secure, faster, and offers longer battery life. Cortana improves control of your music playback on more of your favorite music apps.
But beware of the “tablet mode!”
Recently, a laptop was brought in for repair by a frustrated user. I had a hard time finding the start button and the familiar Windows “desktop icons.” Many right clicks later and searching through property settings, I found out that this laptop was set by default to “full screen tablet mode.” This was not a bug, but a feature. This mode is, however, great on a Windows Phone and small tablets.
Are updates necessary?
Clients often ask me if Windows 10 updates are necessary.
Yes, Windows updates are important. You can’t totally turn them off, but you can schedule them over time so they are not eating up all your bandwidth in a day, which is important when using a hotspot or satellite services.
I always recommend backing up your computer first, especially before a big Windows update (some are 4GB updates). Since you never know when the next updates are coming, you should make regular backups of your data, or, better yet, your whole hard drive. Unfortunately, creating a Windows restore point doesn’t always help when the update goes south.
Next Windows version.
Finally, will there be a Windows 11? It’s hard to say. I think Microsoft will probably keep releases coming. Perhaps, like the Mac operating system, at least a 10.1, 10.2, etc. will be offered from time to time.
When it came out, Microsoft said that Windows 10 would be “the last Windows.” Maybe someday they will start all over and design a completely new operating system that does not try to be compatible with the old overgrown Windows tree and its DOS roots, will intertwine more effectively with its ever-changing infrastructure/environment, and be better protected against outside threats.