Microsoft Windows, a very familiar name of our computing life. Outside of USA, UK and most other first world countries Windows is the only go-to operating system used by almost 97% of the population. Specially after releasing Windows XP, back in 90’s the popularity of Windows really got a huge momentum and acceptance in the social computing structure. After the release of XP, Windows has went through many ups and downs before landing to Windows 10 on July 29th 2015.
According to Microsoft, Windows 10 is a revolutionary operating system which has been built from the scratch with all the experience Microsoft has and everything they have learned from their past mistakes. According to one of the internal source at Microsoft told me that when they are planning for developing a new Windows OS after the major fall of Windows 8/8.1, one of the major problem was that no one actually “love” Windows OS, the only reason it was still popular in the developing countries is because in most of these countries Microsoft has deal with laptop manufacturer to put Windows OS there.
The other group of people who actually love Windows are the Pirates and Gamers. Now statistically speaking that was really not a big number for Microsoft to grasp. Over the year various Linux OS distributions got a lot of momentum and many people even use dual partition on their PC, where the main OS is linux and Windows partition is for gaming and the software that doesn’t run on linux.
On the other hand in the first world countries most people will go with Mac OSX instead of Windows and Mac is still the best operating system in the world for productivity and not for gaming. Keeping all these things in mind Microsoft has built the “Windows 10” where Satya Nadella has said on the Windows 10 developer conference,
We want to move from people needing Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows. That is our bold goal with Windows.
What are the new features of Windows 10?
Actually there are many new features included in Windows 10, starting with the philosophy of the OS to the aesthetical changes. I personally believe that there are two major changes in Windows 10.
- Universal Windows App: Now all Windows applications, be it a standalone program or be a Windows store app, all will treated as universal app. So, if you open an Windows store app in your desktop, you will get your normal explorer look, if you use the same application in a Windows phone, you will get the same user interface in a much more shrink down manner, same goes for the tables.
This is really a big step to make sure the user interface remains same across all devices, irrespective of the size of the device.
- Modular Construction Approach: This is another big leap for Microsoft. In the earlier version of Windows, every single thing was coded so compactly that to bring some new basic changes to the table, Microsoft has to build a brand new OS, but now in Windows 10, the whole OS has been developed in a modular approach, so that it can be maintained easily without creating a brand new OS.
Let’s say Microsoft want to add some new feature to the start menu of Windows 10. Earlier they have to release a complete Service Pack for a brand new OS for that, but now with Windows 10 modular approach design, now they can just push an update which targets the start menu module of the system only and not the whole system itself.
There are plenty other features comes with Windows 10, starting with a brand new user interface (a hybrid of Windows 7 and 8.1), Cortana (more about it below), Better & Extensively fast operation (on clean installs only), Microsoft edge, Virtual Desktop, Unified Search Experience, DirectX 12 (for better gaming) and Windows Hello (completely mind-blowing). Here is a small video where you can see all the new features Windows 10 comes with beside the one I’ve talked above.
Contact Support App
No matter how much people are screaming about Cortana, Microsoft Edge or the new start menu. Personally this is my most favorite feature of Windows 10 above anything they have done with this OS. Windows 10 comes with an in-built universal app called “Contact Support”, you can search for it in your Cortana cum search bar to find and open this application.
The best thing about this app is that you can chat directly with Level 1 Microsoft Technical Support or you can even schedule a callback from Microsoft support to resolve your issues. I’ve personally contacted them several times on several occasion and they were really great. They will try to fix your by taking your computer to remote access via Microsoft’s premonitory remote access tool, so that you don’t have to worry about typing commands and doing advanced stuffs. This really takes the Windows support to a whole new level. Like me I guess you guys also used to tear apart the internet when you have some issues with your computer or post in various forums, but now your can directly chat or talk with Microsoft Technicians without opening a single browser window and drifting through the internet. Really cool!
What are the drawbacks of Windows 10?
No matter how cool Windows 10 may look like to you, there are some exceptional tradeoffs with Windows 10. Starting for the Day 1, when Microsoft has announced that they are going to push this update to everyone (almost everyone) for free, people was really skeptical about this whole process. Because Microsoft is a company which is well renowned to take money from user for almost every service you use, unlike Google who delivers almost everything for free.
But as the time goes on, it seems there are quite a few pitfalls for this free upgrade along with many other concerns. I’ve been using Windows 10 since July 29th so I’ve seen a lot in these past month to share with you guys.
- Driver Support: This is one of the major problem with Windows 10 now. Unlike previous Windows version where Microsoft included most drivers inside the OS, Windows 10 doesn’t come with that huge driver list. Instead after installing Windows 10, it will identify the hardware you have on your system and then try to download the latest version of the respective drivers from the web using the Windows Update program.
On paper this sound great, but in reality this approach miserably failed to download the latest drivers through Windows Update. Almost in every system I’ve installed Windows 10, the driver downloads failed somehow and you have to manually download the latest driver for your system using the respective hardware manufacture website. Same kinda feeling like installing Windows XP for the first time.
- Force Windows Update: Almost in every version of Windows 10 (except the Enterprise Edition) you have no authority to disable the Windows Update like you used to do in the earlier version of Windows. So, you are forced to install all the updates Microsoft pushes.
This has both good and bad side baked into it. The good side is that next time someone tries to troubleshoot your PC, will exactly know that exact version of Windows you are using like everyone else. Also this gives Microsoft a lot more room for improvement, as they can fix any issue anytime and push and update for it. So that one day morning you will work up and see that the bug is gone.
On the other hand this brings a lot of problem to both communities who uses genuine Windows and those uses pirated Windows. As you have no way of stopping Windows update, Microsoft can push any patch anytime to bring down the cracks you are using for software piracy and force you to purchase the software as you have no other way.
- The Bandwidth Eater: I call Windows 10 the “Bandwidth Eater” due to its new update model. As you have no authority to stop updating Windows, you have no idea when updates are downloading into your PC and what is its size. So if you are in a capped bandwidth plan, you may end up spending a huge bill for extensive data usage.
Also if you are in a slow internet plan (like most developing countries, including India), most of the time you will find yourself in such a position where it is taking a while to load even Google. This problem will specially happen in the early weeks after installing Windows 10. After a few weeks when most updates are done, you won’t face this issue often.
After my hard testing with Windows 10, I will recommend at least 1Mb/s connection speed to use Windows 10 smoothly.
- Compromised Privacy: This is one of the biggest tradeoff of using Windows 10. According to Microsoft if you are using Windows 10 along with the Cortana feature, they will gather all information about you starting with your voice pattern, things you are interested in, the files you are viewing in the system, the application you are using for opening the files, the contents of the file, the way you type, things that are important to you, your notes, calendar, reminder, email everything. In short you are under strict surveillance all the time.
These might seems OK to you but the worst part is that as per Microsoft they can release this information to the Government Law Agencies, if they find it important. So, by using Windows 10 you are actually inviting extensive surveillance into your life, where nothing is private. Even all this at least the best part is that if you are using Windows Hello biometric authentication system with Windows 10, your biometric details won’t get uploaded to the Microsoft’s server, instead they will be kept within your local system and a Hash Key will be uploaded.
But beside the Windows Hello, almost all of your information is at risk.
Though it’s not Microsoft alone who is doing this, in fact all big corporation is tracking your every single move since early 2000 to give you a better personalized service. As an example Google tracks your every move every single time. All the emails, notes, calendar you have with Google, is getting tracked by Google’s sophisticated algorithm to give you a much better user experience. Google Now is one of the most popular assistant to provide you the required information even before you ask for it. How do you thing it know what you might like? Does Google now has psychic powers? No, it knows because it learn about you using every single information Google have on you.
But it seems people generally do not have sharing all their secrets with Google instead of any other tech company that is because people trust Google with their data. Also Google has one of the most critical process in the world of disclosing any information about their user data, no matter which Government Agency it is, unlike other companies who has a much more easy to use process for disclosing user information to the Government. Here is a short video which demonstrate the complexity of getting user data out from Google and this is one of the major reason, people trust Google with their everything, because they know that their data is in good hands.
- Buggy OS with new looks: Windows 10 has a lot of mixed reaction in terms of an honest review. In the early days when I was using Windows 10 for the first time, it seems so awesome and so buggy that it’s hard to explain in words. After the initial release Microsoft has pushed many “Cumulative Updates” to fix bugs and issues with Windows 10. But even now after almost a month of Windows 10 release, there are still a lot hardware specific bug which some people are facing daily and some are not.
I personally feel that Microsoft should have taken more time to build the Windows 10 in a much more bug free manner and then pushed to the users.
- Upgrades seems not so smooth: I’ve tested Windows 10 in 5 different systems before writing this review and one of the thing that completely shocked me is that how different the same OS performs on a clean install vs upgrade. Though Microsoft is pushing everyone to upgrade to Windows 10 till the upgrade is free, but if you have an old system with generation 1 or generation 2 CPU, you might feel some laggyness after the upgrade.
But with latest hardware and clean install, it performs like a space ship. Superfast and buttery smooth.
- Making your PC a peer: If you are not familiar with torrents or how they work, peer might be a new word to you. Generally peer refer to a computer in a huge data sharing network. This is how the torrent works. The torrent creator first create the torrent and seed it (upload it) and someone starts downloading the torrent. As time goes on and more people starts downloading the torrent, file files not gets downloaded from the actual author’s system. Instead everyone who have downloaded or downloading the same content is also uploading to others. Here every single system is a peer in the whole torrent network.
Windows 10 adopted this same approach for sharing the windows updates among other Windows 10 users. Now this is great for local network sharing, like if you have 3 PCs running Windows 10 and all are connected to same local network – the updates actually gets downloaded into one PC of the network and then it gets shared among other Windows 10 PC on the network without using your actual bandwidth of downloading data from internet.
But in Windows 10 Microsoft has set this settings to “Local Area Network + The whole freaking internet” by default. So, after downloading the updates, you are not only sharing them which the other system in the same local area network but also uploading them to the other Windows 10 system connected to internet by spending your upload data. Again if you are in a capped internet plan, you are very much screwed with this.
Microsoft has also hide this setting so professionally that for a general person, it’s almost impossible find it. You have to navigate through
Update & Security >
Windows Update >
Advanced Option >
Choose how updates are delivered > Select –
PCs on the local network to actually get rid of this issue.
What about Cortana? Is it just a gimmick?
I know many people are saying that Cortana is nothing but just a gimmick / marketing stunt. No one will use it ever knowing all the privacy tradeoffs with it. But trust me, Cortana is one of the things that still hold me to Windows 10. Initially it might feel wired to talk with your PC but overtime as Cortana learns more about you, you just can’t live without here. She is so helpful and productive that sometimes I truly feels like I have a real assistant beside me.
Though it is not as good as Google Now in terms of delivering information, but its humorous attitude really help me to be more productive. Though there are still a lot of room for improvement for Cortana in terms of delivering useful information, as in most cases it will just redirect to the Bing search, but when it works, it works like a charm. Here is a brief video comparison between Google Now vs Siri vs the latest Cortana.
Beside all the voice feedbacks the unified search experience is also awesome. With a single search you can see all you installed app, files with similar names, settings. It’s truly an amazing experience. The search section kinda feels like the Spotlight of MacOSX. 😛 But it’s good to see here finally.
About the privacy thing, no matter how much I’m concerned, I guess there is no way to outrun the privacy tradeoffs and availing the benefits of new technology. As the “Internet of things” are getting more mainstreamed every year, a real clash is happing between the technological benefits and human privacy. I think in near future privacy will become an imagination of human mind and if we are embracing the new benefits of latest technology then we have to let it go and have to be more concern about that thing we should and should not publish on the web. It’s up to us to use the old school approach for keeping out private information and not put those things on web.
What about Microsoft Edge?
In terms of browser, Microsoft has done really extraordinary work with the edge browser. It’s fast, simple elegant and support all new web programming languages. There are some nifty features that comes with Microsoft edge. My most favorite is the Reading View feature and making notes of the webpage. The reading view feature is so great that I use edge for reading all the web articles. These features are not present in our most favorite Google Chrome yet. But maybe they come in future.
Though Microsoft has presented Cortana support to Microsoft edge as a unique feature, in the latest update of Mozilla Firefox, they have also integrated the Cortana support with Firefox. So if you are running Windows 10 and do not want to use their edge browser, with the latest version of Firefox you can use Cortana in browser too.
The thing I hate most about the Microsoft Edge is that there is no extension support. So, if you want to add extensions like AdBlock, Lastpass etc. you cannot do that with edge. Though initially Microsoft confirmed that edge is going to support extensions but later they confirmed that it’s not. Instead it’s going to support that old school browser toolbar, like we used to see with Internet Explorer. Meh!
If you are running some official web apps which only runs in Internet Explorer, not to worry, internet explorer 11 is also baked into the Windows 10 if you ever need it (which is unlikely going to happen ever).
What about Windows Hello?
Oh! Windows Hello is pretty dope. This is the only feature which I wasn’t able to test so far due to the unavailability of Intel RealSence F200 Developer camera. Though I’ve reserved and unit for me, but it is not going to ship before October 2015. But if you are also excited to see how Windows Hello works with the new Windows 10, take a look at this video. You will see a hand on experience of Windows Hello at various room lighting situation. Please note that normal webcam is not going to work with Windows Hello, you must need Intel RealSence Technology camera (which is now included in most latest high-end laptops) to make it work.
Though Windows 10 really is the best Operating System Microsoft has released yet, but there are still quite a few flaws present in Windows 10. If you are a person who really like to use extremely stable OS and you are thinking about upgrading to Windows 10, I will highly suggest you to wait for next 6 – 7 months before upgrading. At a speed Microsoft is releasing the patches every week, I’m sure that within next 6 – 7 months, the OS will become a stable OS.
On the other hand if you are really concerned about your privacy in the 21st century, I will highly suggest you to stay away from all the latest technological improvements and gadgets. Because it’s not Microsoft who is stalking you every moment, it’s everyone else too, be it Apple or Google or whatever. But it is definitely true that not every corporation has the same rule in terms of disclosing these information to law-enforcement agencies. Google has the strictest rules about this as I said earlier, so I personally trust Google over anyone else.
But again if you don’t trust anyone with your personal data, I will suggest you never to use cloud storage for anything personal, also use a phone which does not have internet connection or WiFi ability, don’t use emails, use the old school post cards, always use a good VPN for using internet, never share any of your thoughts over internet, use the internet just to consume data, not to post any. If you can live like this, trust me no one will have any access or knowledge about your personal information.
What do you think about this review? Do you agree with my thoughts? Are you using Windows 10 personally or thinking about upgrading? How much important these privacy tradeoff means to you in the 21st century? Do you have any other thoughts about Windows 10? Is there anything I’ve missed to include above? You can let me know your thoughts and carry on this discussion in the comment section below.
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