Operating Systems

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 or 8.

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 Microsoft is generally producing two major updates (or ‘Feature Updates’) per year, one in the Spring, and another around October, although the timing of these has been a bit variable, primarily because of bugs that delayed rollout. 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.