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Getting to Know Windows 10 – Part 2

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Following on from last week, and seeing as the worldwide release is just over one week way, I want to outline why Windows 10 is better than Windows 8 or Windows 7 for that matter. If I were asked to describe this upgrade in a short phrase, I would describe it as a cross between Windows 7 and Windows 8.

The interesting thing is that whilst most Microsoft upgrades tend to confuse users with radically new desktops and interfaces, this upgrade actually seems to take a step backwards. It re-introduces the Start button and menu – the function much familiar (and loved) by previous Windows users – both XP and Win7. So, the first thing many users will see – with a huge sigh of relief, no doubt – will be their familiar desktop and beloved Start button back on their device.

Microsoft has lost some of the more geeky functions such as the Charms Menu which used to flash on the right had side of the screen during normal duties. The desktop is as clean and uncluttered as it used to be – with one exception. You are now able to populate the tiled start menu with visual shortcuts if you wish. Of course, you can retain the original desktop and populate that with shortcuts.

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To me – that is a retrogressive step – but users can start with the familiar options and experiment until they are confident of migrating to the new start options. For those using touch screen devices, the tiled option soon becomes the norm. For those users with the all new convertible tablet/laptops – detaching the keyboard from the screen automatically and very slickly, changes the screen desktop to tablet mode. And remember – when you use a Microsoft account – the desktop you set up on your primary device is also replicated onto all other Windows devices you own or may use – such as your Windows phone.

Visually, everything looks better and slicker. The Maximise, Close and Minimise buttons look ergonomic and more modern. Windows 10 retains ease of use of multiple applications with their Snap Assist functionality, which allows you to tile and see up to 4 open applications at the same time on your screen. Minimising, maximising and comparing applications screens, side by side are very easy to do – improving efficiencies with multiple open applications.

The Microsoft Search option is now placed on the taskbar and is really your best friend. No longer do you need to navigate to files or folders when working – entering the name or part of the name into this field is fast and efficient. This was available in previous versions but little used. My suggestion is that new users go to this function as a first step to accessing anything they want to open – from an application such as Word or an individual file or image. It also concurrently carries out a search in the web, if you are connected to the internet. I tend to use this and File Explorer as a first step to my daily work. In File Explorer – which is customisable – I find the Recent Places folder the most useful in getting me quickly to the data I require.

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Getting to the device functionality is also much easier, with intelligent grouping of the relevant functions (including Shut Down and Restart) shown by right clicking the Start Button. In fact, I would suggest that there is no real need to access the Control Menu option as much as it was previously done.

All in all, ease of use and intuition seems to be the key characteristics of this upgrade – and I am sure this attracts a user chorus of “About time too”!

We will be carrying out a series of introductory courses for Windows 10 users – aimed mainly at corporate officers – in the next few weeks. However, if you find this column technically intimidating, watch out for the adverts in the next few days on our range of introductory courses for corporate users.

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