Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system was released this past summer. While the operating system has received good reviews, most folks seem content to continue to use their Windows 7 or even their (aghast!) Windows XP operating systems. That’s completely understandable. The tech world has long since evolved past the point where an O/S change is considered momentous. Most folks I know would be more than content to chug along with the same desktop until holograms and voice control become the norm.
Unfortunately, there’s this little product call the iPad that messed things up for all us desktop users. After Apple sold around 100 million of these swipe-driven devices, conventional wisdom began to predict the death of the desktop. After being on the defensive for the past few years, Microsoft sensed an opportunity to finally take the initiative in the tablet space and delivered the touch-oriented Windows 8.
For most of us, the release was simply another horrible miscalculation that defied common sense. Given their millions upon millions of Office users, wouldn’t seem reasonable that someone in Microsoft’s desktop division would ask the question, “Hey, how do you think Windows 8 is going work for someone using a spreadsheet?”
To Microsoft’s credit, Windows 10 strikes a much better balance. First and foremost, Windows 10 provides a desktop-friendly experience. The traditional features to which users have grown accustomed are all present, the Start Menu and the application window being the most prominent.
Microsoft has provided a couple of really nice additions. The virtual desktop allows users to move their applications between different workspaces. Cortana is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. And Microsoft’s Edge browser promises to replace Internet Explorer. And, yes, I have to admit, the active tiles in the Start menu can be helpful.
But the bottom line is this — Windows 10 is the future for the Microsoft desktop, so you might as well stop whining. Microsoft offers a free upgrade for most Windows 7 and Windows 8 users until July 2016. If you haven’t yet upgraded, you probably want to consider the upgrade during the first half of next year. Microsoft’s plan is to abandon their “new operating system every few years” and to offer continuous improvements to Windows 10. With any luck at all, this should be the last major Windows change.
If you currently run a home edition of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and you are ready to upgrade, you can go to the Windows 10 upgrade page at microsoft.com/en-us/windows/windows-10-upgrade or by Googling “Windows 10 upgrade.” If you are running an Enterprise edition or if you are part of domain environment, please check with your IT provider first.
While you are waiting for Windows 10 to download, here’s a few Windows tricks that I hope you find helpful. (Some of these were new to me… thanks to Sarah Jacobsson Purewal of cnet.com for the tips!)
— If you grab and shake an application window, all the other windows will minimize.
— To quickly open the Properties settings, hold down the <ALT>-key and double click the icon. This works for files and applications.
— The <WIN>-key can be used to quickly go to items on your task bar. Press <WIN>+<T> to cycle through your task bar icons. Alternatively, ALT+<Tab> allows you to cycle through all your open application windows.
— In Windows 10, a “secret” start menu is available that takes you directly to a number of administrative tools such as Control Panel, Computer Management, Event Viewer and Command Prompt. Each of these items requires the user to navigate through multiple windows to access the “normal” way, so it’s a great time saver. Administrators of Server 2012 R2 have known about this menu for a while. It’s very nice for Microsoft to include in Windows 10.