There has been a lot of hype now that Windows 10 has released its Technical Preview on July 29th. So far, the feedback has been mostly positive. Microsoft is being praised for the move away from the frustrating aspects of Windows 8 and the inclusion of many new powerful features. The release of Windows 10 hasn’t been without its troubles and controversies, however. Privacy, monetization of user data, and other issues are surfacing that have been a cause for discussion. I’ve collected the hot topics being discussed here so that our readers can catch themselves up on the good and the bad, and stay in-the-know for what’s ahead.
Reasons To Upgrade To Windows 10
So what are the users who have had a chance to explore Windows 10 getting excited about? Quite a bit, actually. In this writer’s opinion there are more beneficial features being buzzed about in Windows 10 than in the last version of the OS. In addition, these features can be beneficial for casual users and power users alike. PCWorld and Forbes have published articles on the many new features that are being discussed by the community of users, and below are some of the more popular features included in Windows 10 and good reasons why you may want to upgrade if you haven’t decided already.
Cost: Windows 10 Home edition is expected to retail for $119, but the majority of Windows 7 and 8 users will not be charged to upgrade to Windows 10. In the past, new versions of Windows could cost upwards of $150 or more depending on the edition. A free upgrade is something worth being excited about.
The Start Menu: A familiar version of the classic start menu is back. The lack of a traditional start menu was one of the most hated features of Windows 8, and Microsoft has heard the outcry loud and clear. There are enough customization options included in Windows 10 to allow users to decide whether they prefer a more classic-style interface, or wish to have the Metro-like experience from Windows 8.
Cortana: Cortana, Microsoft’s clever digital assistant, makes the jump to PCs with Windows 10. Like Siri and Google Voice Search, Cortana can respond to voice commands and even perform internet searches for you. In addition, Cortana is built into the OS in such a way that she will adapt and evolve based on the user’s own actions and personal profile. Cortana will want to access your personal info, then use that info along with the processing power of the cloud to intelligently find the information you’re looking for as well as help perform many other tasks. We can also expect to see the software grow and new features to be introduced into the future.
The Edge Browser: Edge is one of the stars of the show in Microsoft’s new operating system. Edge is a brand new browser built from the ground up for speed and slickness when exploring the modern web. In reality, the terrible reputation that Internet Explorer had gained throughout the years has required Microsoft to repackage and re-brand their web browser entirely. Considering the amount of meta data that can be collected from web browsers (which translates into large amounts of potential revenue nowadays, and more on that later in the article), Microsoft must push hard to get Edge front-and-center in front of users and do everything they can to convince them to switch from browsers like Chrome and Firefox to Edge. In fact, we wouldn’t be too surprised if we begin to be forced to use Edge through certain applications, or if we have experiences such as Edge being reset as the default browser during a software update. It’s in Microsoft’s best interest to have users using their browser, and they are going to pull out all of the stops towards making this happen.
App Plasticity and Continuum: Even though Windows 10 has been vastly improved for PC users, Microsoft did not leave touchscreen users left behind. Microsoft intends for Windows 10 to be available for all future Microsoft devices, including tablets, smartphones, desktops, and laptops. The included “Continuum” feature allows a user to switch dynamically between the PC-friendly desktop and a Windows 8 style mode that’s more suitable for touchscreen users. Microsoft wants the user experience to be seamless between each device. If you purchase an app from the Windows store on your smartphone, it will be available and work on your Windows 10 computer, tablet, and your Windows smartphone as well.
DirectX 12:: DirectX 12 makes its debut with Windows 10, and it’s expected to not only improve framerates and performance in games, but to also provide new features and technologies for the next generation of games and graphics.
The Action Center: While Windows 8 would show important notifications, they would disappear soon after appearing, which was a pain to anyone who wasn’t by their monitor when an alert was displayed. Windows 10 includes the new Action Center. This is included to improve the experience of receiving notifications. As notifications surface, they are archived in the Action Center to be viewed later. The Action Center also provides quick-action buttons for common functions, such as connecting a VPN or adding Bluetooth.
Love for Gamers: With the new Xbox app, gaming fans can stream games from their Xbox to their PC or tablet. Along with other features such as Twitch support, party invites, easy access to profiles, and screenshot capabilities, gamers have a lot to look forward to in Windows 10.
The Bad News Surrounding Windows 10
Launch Delays and False Expectations: The Windows 10 launch has not been perfectly smooth to say the least. There have been some surprises that users were not expecting. For example, it was widely announced that Windows 10 would launch on July 29th, which everybody assumed was for, well, everyone. However, Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s VP of Operating Systems, provided just a few weeks notice that the Windows 10 launch would be for only a select group of users. That meant that the Windows Insiders (Windows beta testers) would be the only day-one users of Windows 10 and everyone else would have to wait. How long? Microsoft hasn’t said for sure yet.
Data Collection for Monetization and Advertising: Of the most controversial issues are those of monetization and advertising within the OS. Microsoft is collecting all of the data that it can, and one of the reasons they may be able to get away with offering their software for free is because one day soon we may be seeing ads on everything from our startup splash screen, to our desktop wallpaper and Windows Solitaire.The data Microsoft collects from users includes Bing search queries, conversations and inquiries with Cortana, customer information (including name, contacts, passwords, demographic data, financial information), private communications within email, websites and apps you’ve visited, contents of private folders, and even “your typed and handwritten words.” This is frightening to privacy advocates. Even worse, this information may be shared with third parties, whoever those may be. For now, users should not be using the Windows 10 Technical Preview for anything even remotely sensitive. Users should only be using the OS to get a peek at what’s coming in Windows and to provide feedback to Microsoft.
Browsers used to be the largest collector of metadata for marketing and advertising, and this data is where the money is. Microsoft has taken data collection to a whole new level, and they appear set to want to track everything that users do on the OS – everything from Cortana searches, to Edge browser activity, and even your personal preferences. Introducing an advertising and data-collecting platform on the scale of an entire operating system is the way that Microsoft can position themselves to compete with the likes of Google and Apple.
Woody Leanoard of Infoworld had this to say about ads in Windows 10: “Will I wake up one morning and discover that Windows 10 really wants me to buy Office 365? Or maybe that fabulous new Xbox game? How about Oxiclean for new whiter whites? Don’t laugh. The hooks are built into Windows 10 already: Spotlight on the lock screen; Nudges on the Start menu; Edge’s new tab; Cortana into everything, everywhere, with ads in every imaginable nook and cranny; all the built-in Universal apps either have ads now or may have them shortly; the Store; and now, by example, ads in the system tray.”
Peer-to-Peer Updates Commandeer User’s Bandwidth: How does the idea of Windows using your upload bandwidth to share updates with other users? ComputerWorld had this to report about a new technology called Windows Update Delivery Optimization, or WUDO for short: “Microsoft will use its customers’ upload bandwidth to deliver Windows 10’s updates and apps with a peer-to-peer technology resembling BitTorrent, a fact that has caught some by surprise.”
Other concerns include automatic-updates to the core operating system, and there seem to be a lot of reported issues surrounding the capability of Windows 10 to remember custom settings. We’ve seen complaints about the mouse wheel, search engine, and default web browsers returning to the Windows defaults after being being manually changed to a different service.
What Are Your Thoughts So Far On Windows 10?
With 14 million upgrades in 24 hours, we can expect to hear a lot about Windows 10 as time progresses. We’ll be watching closely with excitement and anticipation. Whether you have already installed the OS or are simply observing before you dip your toes in the water, we’d like to hear what your thoughts on the new operating system are. How do you feel about the new features, and how do you feel about the idea of your data being collected for advertising and monetization purposes? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.