All computers need some software that acts as the overall controller of all the activities going on – interpreting the keyboard/mouse instructions, controlling what is displayed on the screen, keeping track of what programs are running and controlling the internet connection etc. This piece of software is a huge program called an ‘Operating System’. PCs built with Microsoft software (not Apple), have had an Operating System called ‘Windows’, and since its initial introduction Windows has gone through a number of changes. You might have heard of ‘Windows 95’ or ‘Windows Vista’ or more recently, Windows 7, 8 and 10.

Well,  ‘Windows 10’ has been around for some time now, and many people will have chosen to upgrade their earlier Operating System to the latest. During the initial launch period, Windows 10 was available as a free upgrade, but that free period has now passed, so I am afraid  if you didn’t upgrade earlier, you will have to pay for it now!

If you had Windows Vista and wanted to upgrade to Windows 7, then you would have to purchase the new software and install it on your PC. If you are currently on Windows 7 or 8/8.1, normally this upgrade can be done without losing your installed programs or documents, but you will have to purchase a license from either Microsoft or one of the many online resellers.

(WARNING – ensure you are purchasing from a reputable dealer, as there are many online sellers who have ‘pirate’ copies of the software and you don’t know what extra stuff they have implanted in the code! )

The first impression of Windows 10 is that on the surface it is not very much different to Windows 7 – the ‘Start Menu’ is back in the bottom left corner, after many protests that it disappeared in Windows 8. It is however different in that the start menu now includes the tile-format apps as well as the menu-style options. The windows frames are now much simpler in style – the transparent border effects of past versions have gone, probably to try and economise on system resources being used. Windows 10 is also intended to be used on a number of different devices, from desktop and laptop PCs to tablets and smart-phones and even the X-Box – they are all supposed to be running essentially the same code from now on.

Windows 10 is evolving, and there have been 2 significant updates in 2017, one rolled out in April, and there was another rolled out in October, with another in April 2018 and further ‘feature upgrades’ planned for twice per year. Whether Windows 10 will be permanently free for future updates I doubt – I suspect that commercial considerations will prevail and they will produce a ‘new generation’ operating system at some point that will have to be purchased. We will see. Windows 10 is the recommended Operating System for Windows PCs, and Laptops, as earlier versions will be phased out very soon. It is also important to upgrade as the older versions will be phased out for support and security updates, so may be more vulnerable in future to hacking/malware attacks.

You might often see messages or other references to ‘Windows Update’. The Windows Operating system is a very complex software program, consisting of millions of lines of code, and the developers don’t always get it perfect first time, and they want to add new features! When they find some issues to be resolved, it may be security issues, usability issues or something else, the developers issue a Fix to correct the problem(s). In order for all PCs to get this Fix as soon as possible, the Developers transfer a file to your PC at regular intervals, that contains one or more fixes, or Updates, to the Operating System.

The default process for receiving updates is that your PC will ask the system if there are any updates to be processed, usually when the PC is not doing anything else at the time. If there are updates to be downloaded, the PC will automatically do this for you, and you may get a message to say that ‘Updates are available’, or the PC may install them automatically at a fixed time during the day or night. This process is less visible to users in Windows 10 than in previous releases, so it may happen without you noticing at all, except for major updates.

However, if you only use your PC occasionally, it may spend some time checking and installing updates as soon as you switch it on, causing the PC to run slowly for a while until all the updates are completed. It may be worth switchin on your PC say, once per week, just to allow the updates to be installed, even if you don’t want to use it for anything else at the time.
Other software suppliers also have a similar system to keep their software up to date, so watch out for any messages that are associated with Updates, and make sure they are installed as soon as possible.

Sometimes, about twice per year at present, Microsoft will announce that they are going to roll out a Major Update. These are usually reserved for introducing new features into the software, althouigh they will usually include some bug fixes as well. The process for installing these updates is the same as for smaller updates, but will usually take a lot longer to install. The last major update was called the ‘Creator’s Update’ and included some new features regarding graphic design and other related features. It is usually a personal choice when/whether to install this type of update, although it is recommended that all users keep up to date as much as possible.

So, we have been using Windows 10 for a few weeks, is it OK? I have been reasonably impressed with the new update. It appears stable, (although there have been quite a few updates released since the launch at the end of July), implying that Microsoft have had to fix quite a few bugs (Sorry – security updates!!)

Things to Consider Before Updgrading to WIndows 10

This is one update that is very optional, which means you don’t have to take it, just because Microsoft is giving it huge publicity at the moment. I know many people stuck it out with Windows XP even until Windows 8.1 came out and beyond, just because it is adequate for their needs and they see no need to upgrade. It all depends on what you use your PC for. Here are a few things to consider:
1. What do you use your PC for?
If you are using your PC just for emails and social media, and Internet Browsing, then upgrading to Windows 10 is not likely to be of much benefit to you, as there will be very little that is different in the way you do things. If however, you use many of the Windows features such as file management, OneDrive etc., and you want to make use of the built-in or add-on Apps that will be available, the Windows 10 could be of benefit.
2. Will your PC be powerful enough to run Windows 10?
If you are already running Windows 8/8.1, the chances are that your PC will be OK. If your PC is older than 2 or 3 years and/or you are running Windows XP/Vista/7 then you need to check its compatibility. Part of the process for reservation of the Windows 10 update, is a check of compatibility, and they will let you know if your PC is not able to be upgraded. Here is a link to the Microsoft website that defines system requirements for WIndows 10 – http://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/windows-10-specifications This page also provides lots of useful information regarding the ‘side-effects’ of upgrading to Windows 10, such as the fact that Windows Media Center is no longer supported, although a DVD Player App is provided.
3. Do you have any non-standard additional Hardware?
If you have certain special hardware, for example, special Audio equipment, older printers etc., they may not be supported on Windows 10, or there may be a delay until the supplier gets around to providing updated drivers for them. Again, the Windows 10 Update service will provide a report that gives guidance on this, so it is important that you have these devices connected when you go through the Windows 10 compatibility checks.

What About ‘Edge’ – the new ‘Internet Explorer?
Microsoft have released Edge at the same time as Windows 10, saying it is a new generation of Internet Browsers, providing lots of new features that help the Browsing experience. Personally, I am not all that impressed with it, but I am not going to use this post as a full review of Edge – maybe later, or maybe others will comment on this post about it!

So, I think overall Windows 10 has had a successful release, and most people who have reviewed it are positive. If you want to update to Windows 10 but need some help, why not have a look at my website, Net Surfers Academy, and get in contact for some more specific guidance?

OK, so you have a small icon on your PC or Laptop that says  ‘Get Windows 10’ – have you tried it yet?

I have been following the development of Windows 10 and have been using an ‘Insider Preview’ version for several months. The early versions were, not surprisingly, somewhat shaky and unstable, but the official launch version seems to be OK. My initial impressions are good, with a number of features that many people have commented on that were removed from Windows 8 now restored. One of the ‘Add-ons’ of Windows 10 is a new Internet Browser, called ‘Edge’, and I’m not sure at the moment whether this keeps crashing or whether it is my website design software that’s causing it! I will put some more notes about the changes here under the category ‘Windows Tips and Tricks, so keep a lookout for it. I know there are probably hundreds of ‘reviews of Windows 10’ out there now, and it is up to the reader which ones they actually look at, but I will try and give some useful information about the good, the bad and the ugly!

First – Installation. This is the first time that Microsoft have delivered a major new release via the Update process instead of making people purchase a new disk/download to upgrade. The first indication you will get that Windows 10 may be available is a small icon in the bottom right of your screen (desktops and Laptop PCs) which if you click, gives you a pop-up window display showing the new features and giving instructions on how to reserve your upgrade. They did it this way because they want to schedule the downloads of the files in phases across all the countries/PCs involved in the launch, to manage the load on their servers. You will find that once reserved and scheduled, your download for the Windows 10 upgrade will appear among the other Windows updates. BEWARE – this is a huge file, much bigger than other updates, and depending on the speed of your internet connection, will take a significant time to download and install. On my desktop PC, with a 25MB Internet connection and a 3.5GHz processor with 4GB of RAM, the upgrade still took several hours to complete, so I just left it to it! Be patient, and don’t expect to be able to do anything else with your PC while this is running!