Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Happy 1st Birthday, Windows 10!

My latest article is now live at ministrytech.com.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been in the Windows 10 era for a year now. It seems like just yesterday we were anxiously awaiting the final release, after two years of testing and development. (Of course, technology years are like dog years with things moving so fast.)

Microsoft’s goal for Windows 10 was to have 1 billion devices running this version within the first three years. They have admitted recently that after this first year they probably aren’t going to hit that goal, mostly due to the failing Windows 10 phone market. If you don’t know what this means, ask how many of your friends have a Windows phone and you’ll soon understand.

Even after a year, though, the question remains as to whether or not you should upgrade. Microsoft allowed users to upgrade for free through the first year. Since the free upgrade has expired, is there any real rush to upgrade, especially now that you have to pay for the upgrade and the fact that Windows 7 is supported through 2020?

If you did not take advantage of the free upgrade, then you probably aren’t going to pay to upgrade your existing device. You might wait and get Windows 10 when you purchase a new device. There will undoubtedly be a plethora of new Windows 10-based devices available as we inch closer to the holiday shopping season.

The release of Windows 10 Anniversary Edition is momentous for several reasons. First, Microsoft kept its promise in terms of the new Windows paradigm shift. No longer is Windows a product that you upgrade once every few years to a new version. Now Windows is in a perpetual state of evolution, constantly changing with feature updates and changes included with security patches. Many doubted whether Microsoft could upgrade Windows several times per year, and so far they have proven they can.

The Anniversary Edition release also shows us that once a device is running Windows we won’t have to upgrade the operating system every few years. Every organization dedicates significant IT resources to operating system upgrades. Once your device is running Windows 10 it will upgrade itself—there won’t be the need for organizations to dedicate time and money to imaging machines when the next version of Windows comes out. As an IT person who has done countless Windows migrations and upgrades, this is what I’m most excited about.

Windows 10 Anniversary Edition also contains a ton of features additions and security improvements. Here are just a few of the highlights …
  • One of the coolest features of Windows 10 running on a Surface is the Windows Hello authentication process. This allows you to unlock your PC just by looking at your device. The Windows Hello camera logs you in based on your face. I love this feature, and in the Anniversary Edition you can now use Windows Hello to login to websites and apps. Instead of remembering your password you just have to remember to keep your head on your shoulders. This may be problematic for those who say they would forget their head if it wasn’t attached.

  • There have also been a ton of other under-the-hood security improvements, including an updated Windows Defender and an enterprise version called Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. It remains to be seen if these built-in security features will have any impact on the third-party security/malware/anti-virus markets.

  • For touch screen users Windows Ink has also been built into the update. Windows Ink allows you to write on your screen and convert handwriting to text. It also provides for greater interaction using a pen or stylus with Microsoft Office and other apps that have the Ink functionality built into them.

  • The new browser in Windows 10, Microsoft Edge, is also starting to gain some maturity. Edge was released with Windows 10 but it too is undergoing an evolutionary process. With the Anniversary Edition, Microsoft Edge now supports extensions and many more web standards, including HTML5. It has also had significant under-the-hood improvements. Translation— you can start using Edge on many of the sites that didn’t work on it before. Only time will tell whether or not this will convince you to switch to Edge as your browser of choice.

  • My favorite improvement is the ability to pin apps to virtual desktops. Windows 10 first brought virtual desktops to Windows users (better late than never). Virtual desktops allow you to have different applications running on different desktops so you don’t have to open everything in a single place. One desktop could be running Word, Excel, and Outlook, while another desktop could be running all of your open browser windows. You could then have all of your games running on a third desktop, then when the boss walks by . . .

  • With Windows 10 Anniversary Edition you can now send a single app to all your desktops, so if you want to be able to view your email across all your virtual desktops you can now open it once and have it appear on all desktops as opposed to having to open your email individually on every desktop.

  • Other improvements include more functionality for Cortana, better gaming integration with Xbox, additional desktop themes, more control over the action center and notifications, and better management tools for education and classroom environments. 
Windows 10 is here to stay. While there may be a learning curve for some users, it is hopefully a learning curve you will only have to experience once.