Is Windows 10 Microsoft's redemption?

The Windows icon in the System Tray alerts users to Windows 10 update eligibility.

If you use Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, and your computer is receiving Windows Updates monthly like clockwork, you may have noticed a new icon in your System Tray. This icon is a reminder of your eligibility to upgrade to Windows 10 for free if you upgrade within the first year of Windows 10’s availability; users of pre-Windows 7 versions and/or users upgrading after the first year will pay $99 to $199.

For budding Windows computer users, the “System Tray” is where the current date and time are shown, flanked with small icons representing system functions such as the speaker, wired networking (or bars showing wireless networking strength), or battery gauge if it is a laptop computer.

Although Windows 10 just came out recently, many media outlets report that the operating system has been well received thus far. Personally, I think Microsoft has a tendency to play catch-up to digital world trends – Windows 8 was their catch-up product to tablets and smartphones that use the intuitive “Power of One” interface, i.e. a finger touching the screen to do things instead of a mouse. However Microsoft seemed to have had forgotten that the majority of the Windows computers in use at the time Windows 8 was unveiled did not have a touch screen, which made the touch-friendly user interface in Windows 8 clumsy and frustrating to use. Microsoft did include the traditional Windows user interface, aka Desktop, but the diminished functionality of the Start menu only fueled user discontent. So much for history lessons!

Although Windows 7 users, yours truly included, may be inclined to wait a while before upgrading to Windows 10, users who had to buy a computer that only came with Windows 8 or 8.1 and are still frustrated/unhappy with their experience may want to look at Windows 10 after taking the precautions below that I have noted while helping some friends upgrade to Windows 10 recently:

  1. Check your computer manufacturer's website to see if your particular computer model can be upgraded to Windows 10. Although the system tray icon I referred to at the beginning of this article should mean that your system can be upgraded to Windows 10, due to differing business strategies and technical challenges, a computer manufacturer can decide to not support new operating systems on older hardware.
  2. Make a backup of your data on another device such as an USB thumb drive or an external USB hard drive. Many things can go wrong during the upgrade and the last thing you need is to lose all your priceless data such as digital pictures and documents.
  3. Before Windows performs the actual upgrade, it will check all of your installed software applications to ensure that they run on Windows 10. Make sure that all of your favorite applications are included in the list of acceptable software. If not, you may want to consider delaying the update until the software developer releases a Windows 10 friendly version of the application.

For current users of Windows 8 and 8.1, the return of a Start menu functionality that is similar to previous Windows iterations is perhaps the single most welcome change and may be a motivation to upgrade to Windows 10.

Tak Sato

Business and technology strategist/consultant with 25 years of experience. Holds Bachelor of Science in Computer Information Science and MBA from Cleveland State University.

As founder of geek with a heart, "Hand-holding You in the Digital World", Tak helps Individuals, Seniors, Families, Small Businesses, Schools, and Non-Profits utilize appropriate technology in their personal and professional lives.

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Volume 7, Issue 17, Posted 8:46 AM, 09.01.2015