I’ve been a computer geek since longer than I can remember. I assume I’ve been a computer geek for longer than some of you have even existed. I’ve gone through more than a half-dozen Windows iterations over the years, and this is the first time I’ve been excited about that in a long time.
I remember the first time I tried Windows 95. It was such a tremendous difference from the last version, Windows 3.1. It’s hard to remember those days clearly, but I still recall fleeting glimpses of that bygone day of pre-Start menu computing life.
Ever since that point I had always made it a point to upgrade to the latest version of Windows as soon as it was made available. Windows 98. Windows 98SE. I even excitedly installed Windows Millennium; a day before release I might add (I may be the only person on the planet who liked it).
About a year after living with Windows ME I made the switch to Windows 2000 and finally understood what it was like to use a stable operating system. For the first time ever I could go days on end without a reboot, forced or otherwise.
Then came Windows XP. I remember reading a review about it in a magazine. I believe it was MaximumPC. The reviewer gave the OS a perfect score. Considering I had also been using the OS since day one I definitely agreed with that sentiment. That was over a decade ago now, and as evident by the fact that many people are still running the ever-present Windows XP, many people must have agreed.
When Windows 7 launched, I once again was waiting anxiously to upgrade my system. I even pre-ordered copies for both of my computers. Windows 7 has been a wonderful operating system, and it has treated me well over the years. My excitement for new versions of Windows had died with Win8. I was so put off by that catastrophe of an OS that I never once installed it on my own machine.
I tried Windows 8. I really did. I gave it an effort on multiple computers, but I just couldn’t do it. As a tech aficionado, who has worked in IT for over a decade, I absolutely HATED Windows 8. I don’t mind change, and I can usually adapt to new software iterations (as evident by my early-adopting past), but when you take away all logic, all that’s left is frustration.
Windows 8 was designed from the ground up with mobile devices such as tablets being the sole focus. The company seemed to have forgotten that people still use desktop computers, and was focusing on its own tablet, the Surface Pro. The interface was clearly designed for touch in mind, but not only that it was also evident that multi-monitor support was an afterthought. To top all of that off, the company decided to hide features and functions in the most illogical spots.
Not even kidding, it took 5 BaseLAN staff nearly 10 minutes to figure out where the shutdown button was hidden the first time we all used it. We were loaned a demo PC from HP that had Windows8 installed. None of us had ever actually made use of the OS and we truly had no idea where shutdown was. When you can manage to make five tech-savvy people confused and lost while doing a basic everyday function of their computer, you know you’ve done-gone screwed up.
Windows 8.1 attempted to fix many of the bungles, but the damage was done. After my horrible user experience with Windows 8 the half-dozen times I’ve toyed around with it, I vowed that I had no interest in even giving 8.1 a chance. Microsoft managed to sour my view of the OS so badly, that even my lust for new technology could not convince me to upgrade. Windows 7 has been absolutely perfect for me all these years.
It’s now nearing the end of July and the release of Window 10 is just mere days away. Microsoft has very much change its strategy this time around, and it appears the company is trying to make up for the boondoggle that was Windows 8. For starters the company is giving free copies to everyone who currently owns a valid license for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. For the first 365 days after release, computer owners with those version of Windows can opt into the free upgrade. Those who wait too long will have to pay for a copy.
The company is also bringing back the start menu. It was abundantly clear that this was a huge mistake for Microsoft. People adore that button, and more people use it than the company had thought. With its return in the new OS, the Start menu becomes somewhat of a hybrid between Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. The start button itself remains, but the menu adopts many of the Metro styling features found in Windows 8.1. You won’t see a list of folders, instead you get a window of tiles. The result is much nicer to work with than the full screen start button found in Window 8.
Microsoft made a bold move this past winter, opening up the Windows Preview program to everyone who wanted to sign up. Windows Preview gave people access to try an incomplete version of Windows 10, and help Microsoft identify bugs before the full scale release. It’s with this program that I had the chance to try out Windows 10 many months ago (the day after it was made available, in fact) and I have to say I have fallen in love with it.
It only took me about 30 seconds to decide that I wanted to upgrade all my PC’s when it comes up. The problem I had with Windows 8 was that I constantly felt lost. As a techie, being lost navigating a computer is not a fun experience. It’s a demeaning feeling, and it instantly put me off from ever enjoying Windows 8. Windows 10 on the other hand is for the most part familiar, and laid out logically. I have been using the operating system on my living room media center PC for nearly 6 months now and I have not once felt lost.
THIS. This is the reason that I am going to upgrade on day one and not look back. Windows 10, so far, has been nothing but a delight to work with, even in its pre-release form. The company has been listening to feedback and is trying to make the operating system right this time. The way the people who will be using it want it.
I have four computers ready and waiting for Windows 10. Have you signed up for your upgrade yet?
Kevin Carbotte is a Contributing Editor for aybonline.com. He knows a little about a lot, and a lot about a little. The opinions in his columns are his and his alone, but you are free to have them