During the wee hours of July 29, I sat eagerly at my laptop as the freshly released Windows 10 operating system made its way onto my device. Within an hour of the Windows update icon appearing on the taskbar, I bid adieu to Windows 8 and its foibles as I greeted Windows 10 and the long-lost start menu it brought with it.
The M.O. of Windows 10 is to be best version of the Windows operating system, as were its predecessors with varying success. I loved Windows 7 and its functionality, and was lukewarm to Windows 8 despite its pleasing aesthetics. Microsoft made a play to please fans of both editions. Fortunately, Windows 10 succeeds in its aim of being the best of both worlds.
The most obvious improvement is the aforementioned return of the start menu. Simple and elegant, the Windows 10 start menu provides a UI that informs the user while remaining practical. If for some reason you still prefer Windows 8’s full-screen tile interface to a traditional start menu, tablet mode is easily accessible and admittedly better than Windows 10’s start screen.
A functional improvement included in Windows 10 is the new “Task View.” Task View provides an exploded look at all of the open windows. So far, this proves helpful in multitasking situations and benefits from keyboard shortcuts, which How to Geek outlined here.
Another point of interest with Windows 10 is Cortana, aptly named after the AI featured in Microsoft’s Halo series. Cortana behaves much like she does on the video games, except she provides more mundane tasks like opening apps or searching a question instead of flying spaceships and opening airlocks.
For anyone familiar with Google’s Google Now experience on Android, Cortana will be quite recognizable. It simply does the same thing, but within the Microsoft ecosystem of Bing and the new Edge browser. However, if you are more of the Google persuasion, Cortana can search through Google Chrome after setting it as the default browser. Also, Cortana will automatically use the Google search engine if you use this plug-in, which is especially helpful to Bing-averse folks like myself.
Despite its popularity within Microsoft’s marketing campaign, Xbox One streaming through Windows 10 serves more as a party trick rather than a legitimate gaming solution. The easiest way to connect a Xbox controller to a PC in this scenario is a simple micro USB cord, though wireless ways are surely available. The streaming function works, yet leaves much to be desired. Obviously, an Xbox game is going to look much better unstreamed on a 32″ HDTV than streaming on a 15″ laptop.
The biggest problem lies within lag between the two machines. When playing Project Cars, I ended up in the weeds because of an ill-timed blip in the stream left me high and dry in a breaking zone. Once again, this streaming feature is a cool trick, but not a sustainable method that hardcore gamers will embrace.
My biggest gripe with Windows 10 is the problems with the sleep function. After putting my laptop to sleep before making a quick jaunt to the store, the fans whirred as if they were preparing to start as the screen stayed off continuously. After force restarting my PC several times after putting it to sleep, it became perturbing and I went hunting for a solution.
In diagnosing this symptom, it would seem to be a driver issue. However, after updating the video card driver several times, my laptop still necessitated a force restart after being put to sleep. It turns out the issue lies with the power settings. If you are suffering from a similar dilemma as I did, I would suggest trying this forum thread, which proved invaluable in tweaking the necessary settings.
Windows 10 is a fine operating system that is an improvement over its older cousins, but it’s still a work in progress. If you rely on a Windows PC full-time as a work unit, I’d suggest waiting a couple weeks while the trigger happy nerds like myself muddle through smaller glitches and bugs. However, if you are really jonesing to upgrade to Windows 10, go ahead and do it. It’s stable (enough), pretty, and having a new OS is always a joy for your inner nerd.