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Working Through the Trials and Tribulations of Windows 10

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A couple weeks back I decided to take the plunge and install the Windows 10 Developer Preview on one (now two) of my devices. While a loyal supporter of Microsoft, I can also sometimes be a staunch critic. When I encounter things that just don’t make any sense, I often say to myself, “didn’t someone see this when they were testing the app or OS”. So, I figured it wouldn’t hurt to  become part of the solution.

I chose to install the preview on my Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. I use this machine mostly for house calls (when someone has a computer problem), so it’s not running any mission critical software. Aside from Office 365 (part of my 5 User Subscription), Windows Live Writer and Webroot, everything else installed is a Modern app. Easy to rebuild if needed. A week earlier I had updated restore backups to USB sticks on all my devices, so I was good to go. The download and install took under an hour and out of the box (or download in this case) everything worked as expected. I should note that when installing Win 10 on the Yoga, I was advised with an alert message that Webroot, my anti-malware tool of choice, was incompatible with this early build and it would need to be uninstalled. After removing the app and reactivating Windows Defender, all was good again.

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Riding the wave of success from this first update I decided to install Windows 10 on my Asus Note 8 tablet. Install took a little longer on this slower, less powerful device. But again, there were no errors or close calls. I did choose to remove Webroot prior to the install, so I got no warning messages. When I tried to reinstall Webroot after Win 10 was installed and I had rebooted, I got the same incompatibility message. I contacted Webroot, and Support advised they were aware of the issue and would address it with Microsoft, if they needed to,  when the Win 10 Consumer Preview goes live in a couple months.

The overall experience has been good so far. Being an early build there are a few quirks as would be expected. The Note 8 is draining battery while sleeping at a rate two or three times more than with Win 8.x. Interestingly, the Yoga is experiencing no battery drain issue, and may actually be performing better. Both devices get confused when you manually engage Tablet mode (Continuum, the auto-sense feature is only active on the Surface 3 so far), as the screen darkens a bit and desktop taps (icons or tap/hold) are unresponsive. Further, on the Note 8 all of the Taskbar icons disappear, which creates a problem of its own. In Win 10, there is an icon for Internet Explorer on both the desktop and taskbar. On the Start Menu, there is a link for Internet Explorer, but it must be the old Modern IE, cause it’s a dead link. Whatever Microsoft calls this new browser, Spartan or otherwise, please don’t call it Internet Explorer, or IE Plus, or anything having anything to do with Internet or Explorer. Having two Internet Explorers in Win 8.x has been one of the most confusing things I have had to explain to people when walking them through the OS. As the icons disappear from the taskbar and the desktop freezes in Tablet mode on my Note 8, there is no way to access IE. So for now, I’m stuck with a tablet that can’t really use touch/swipe features.  As I said though, it’s early.

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I have reported all of these issues as they are detected and just maybe, someone is looking at them. I also reminded the folks in Redmond again that their new hamburger menu (which replaces the right edge Charms) with an option to Print, still does not give the user the ability to select which pages to print, or to only print current page. So unneeded tree toppling continues for now. I really hope they deal with this one BEFORE Windows 10 launches.

As I have mentioned before, I jumped from Win XP right into Win 8 in late 2012, skipping over Vista and Win 7. So it was culture shock for me. Aside from occasionally helping out friends and family with their machines, I never experienced the Vista/7 Start Menu, so I wasn’t really missing anything in Win 8. The early days of Win 8 were rocky indeed with row after row of medium tiles on the Start screen, till I found the old XP style Start Menu hidden in the Program Data folder. That changed everything for me. As much as I liked the familiar look of tiles in Win 8, similar to my Windows Phone, for mail, weather, people, news, and other changing data, I didn’t want to navigate to a different screen to launch a program that was going to take me back to the desktop. It just seemed counter productive to me. So for all the resident programs on my machine I used the convoluted desktop Start Menu. And for Modern apps I used the Start screen. That was a lot of moving around, lots of unnecessary navigating. But it was new, and different. Another Win 8 feature that doesn’t always work that well on non-touch devices are those corner sweet spots. The right corners almost always bring up the Charms bar with my mouse. But the left corners are always hit and miss. Sometime the upper left menu icons for the current app. Sometime a thumbnail of the next open app in the chain. And sometimes thumbnails of all the open apps. Still haven’t got that down to a science. I found a shortcut called Windows Switcher (same as pressing Alt-Shift-Tab) which I added to the Start menu, right next to my Desktop tile, to quickly allow me to navigate through my open programs/apps, both legacy and modern. Still a lot of mouse movement though. How much movement you ask? I find that I am now replacing the batteries in my Microsoft 2000 mouse at the office about every 3 weeks. That’s a lot of movement. Same mouse on my home desktop that doesn’t get nearly as much use can last 4-6 months.

Ok, that was the bad. Now the good. I believe Windows 10 is addressing most of the things that were wrong, or maybe intimidating, for Windows 8 users. Incorporating some of the Start menu features of OSs gone by with the Modern features of Win 8.x. I like having the Start menu and Live tiles all in one place. Tiles for ever changing data or quick access. And a list (long list) of programs/apps for access to everything else. I like that the taskbar is always (or should always) be visible. I do miss the Charms bar a bit, but I really like the Action Center. Not sure how easily you could accommodate both. And Cortana simply rocks! Period. The Start menu (or maybe tiles, or both) could use some way to group apps together. Like maybe a Favorites folder for example. And bringing the letter selector to the menu, like Windows Phone, would be a big help for that long alphabetical list. Guess I could start typing into Cortana’s query box to open Yelp, but I am too accustomed to clicking, or now tapping. Overall though, being at such an early stage of development I like what I see so far. And look forward to installing the Consumer Preview on my primary machines, probably with new touch monitors (with built in camera & mic), later this year. Some functions are easier than Win 8, some harder. Microsoft is getting plenty of feedback though. I chuckle as I read through all the comments and suggestions posted in the Windows Feedback. Often they completely contradict each other. “ I love that…..or, I hate that….”, while talking about the same thing. You can’t please all of the people all of the time. I’ll keep telling Microsoft what’s broke and let them deal with the UI.

Have you tried Windows 10 yet? What do you think of it.