Windows 10: will you upgrade? - TechCentral

Windows 10: will you upgrade?

Duncan-McLeod-180-profileIn a little over seven weeks, Microsoft will deliver what is set to be the last big version upgrade to its flagship Windows operating system. It will mark the end of an era of packaged operating systems.

On 29 July — the launch date was revealed this week — consumers will be able to download Windows 10 to their PCs and tablets.

Those running legitimate copies of older versions of Windows — 7 and 8.1 — will get the new software free of charge (XP and Vista users are excluded from the free upgrade deal).

Windows 10 is set to be starkly different to how consumers have installed and experienced Windows in the past.

Firstly, most users will get the new operating system through Windows Update rather than buying a boxed product on DVD at a retail store. (However, given South Africa’s broadband constraints, consumers will also be able to take their computers to selected IT retailers to have the upgrade done in-store.)

Secondly, Windows 10 will begin a significant shift away from the way Microsoft has historically sold its software. Windows is set to become a service, where updates and improvements are delivered more frequently, more in line with the way smartphones work. It’s possible there never will be a Windows 11. That doesn’t mean this is the end of the line for Windows — far from it. It’s just that the business model has shifted. Don’t be surprised if at some point in the future, Microsoft asks Windows users to pay an annual subscription fee in return for getting the latest updates, much like it does today with Office 365.

Microsoft has also changed the way it’s building the latest version of Windows. It has made technical previews available to anyone interested in running the pre-release software. More than 4m people are already running the software ahead of its launch. This has helped Microsoft interface directly with both business and retail users, getting valuable feedback on what they like and don’t like about the operating system. According to Anthony Doherty, who heads the Windows Business Group at Microsoft South Africa, Windows 10 developers have received more than 800 000 individual feature requests and other feedback from users of the technical preview.

Those already running the technical preview won’t have to upgrade to the final version and can simply elect to continue running the pre-release software. There are risks associated with this — the software is not deemed sufficiently bug-free to warrant commercial release — but millions of more technically minded users (read: geeks) are likely to go for this option to be first to get to tinker.

Windows 10 includes a range of new features. Chief among them is a new Start menu (ditched controversially in Windows 8), which marries the interface design elements of Windows 7 with the much-loathed tile-driven design of 8. Where Windows 8 felt like a rushed and forced reaction to tablet competitors — the iPad was ascendant at the time — Windows 10 looks at home on both tablets and on traditional keyboard-and-mouse-driven PCs.

Windows-81

Also included in Windows 10 is a new Web browser, called Edge. The much-maligned Internet Explorer is still there, mainly for corporate users with legacy business applications only supported in IE. But Edge is the new default browser. With Edge, Microsoft is hoping to reclaim some of the market share it has lost in recent years to Google’s Chrome and the open-source Firefox browser.

The new software also includes Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-driven personal assistant and rival to Apple’s Siri and Google’s voice search tools.

Unfortunately, Doherty says Cortana will not be available in South Africa at Windows 10’s launch and won’t say if Microsoft has any plans to introduce it here. What he will say is it’s not imminent.

Users can, however, change their computer’s region settings to the US or the UK to get access to a limited set of its services.

This issue is, however, unlikely to hold back many South African users from upgrading. Microsoft will be hoping to get as many Windows 7 and 8 users onto 10 as quickly as possible. With the free upgrade offer, it surely will. Convincing the hold-outs still running the 14-year-old Windows XP could be trickier.

  • Duncan McLeod is TechCentral’s editor. Find him on Twitter
  • This column was first published in the Sunday Times

13 Comments

  1. Tasha Johns on

    Being honest?Windows 10 is probably going to be a gigantic mess. Microsoft has rushed themselves (no surprised) and committed to a launch date they can’t possibly hope to meet on such a tight schedule. The software is going to be buggy, unstable, and probably unusable. And of course, It’s 100% guaranteed to slow down your computers. After I JUST managed to fix all my drivers and speed my computer up to brand new levels (thanks to http://WWW.TINYURL.COM/SCREWWIN10 ) I just refuse to bank on Microsoft not messing up this Windows 10 release..and frankly my computer runs so smoothly now that I don’t even need to pick up what they are putting down, if you catch my drift.

  2. Monna Monneng on

    Based on my experience with Office 365, I have already registered my interest to upgrade to the new OS. Looking forward to it.

  3. So now MS will compete with the still-born Google OS?

    Why?

    And shall we expect Apple to do the same?

    Well, it looks like the winner of the war-of-the-desktops is … drumbeat … The Linux!

    Hmmm… for some reason I do not feel excited…!

  4. Apparently when upgrading from Windows 7 Home Premium, I will end up with a 10 version not able to set the windows update version to manual.
    As I am making use of mobile data I will not be able to update when data are cheap and abundant, at night.

  5. Greg Mahlknecht on

    You still have the option to set what time it’s done, and the usual download automatically/prompt/etc … but if you leave it for too long (a week? 2 weeks?) it’ll go ahead and do it itself.

    Win10 also has very tight integration for mobile data, and won’t download anything big over a mobile connection unless you explicitly tell it to.

    In addition to this, if you have more than one PC on your network, you can get Win10 to have the first PC that gets the update to notify all the other PCs on the subnet, and push it to them without re-downloading.

  6. Ofentse Letsholo on

    Yes I will sir, I’ve been eyeing on it for some time now 🙂

  7. I’ve been running the Technical Preview (now termed the “Insider Preview”) since it came out in, was it late October(?) of last year. I used it on a VM for a few months because nobody is crazy enough to try it as a daily driver, and I’ve been really impressed. Then (accidentally, don’t ask) i managed to upgrade my 8.1 install on my daily laptop to 10, and since build 9989 (I’m currently on 10074) I’ve actually grown used to the new virtual desktops, nicer start menu and general Windows 10 improvements.

    While I’m excited to just hop on from the Insider Previews straight to RTM when that hits on July 29, I’m still a little skeptical on the promise of ‘complete’ software by then; while the base OS has been pretty stable, some of the “Universal Apps” as they’re now called, have been really flaky, and I like them enough to hope that Microsoft get round to fixing them by then. I’ve seen great improvements build-over-build and the way 10 deals with drivers and hardware is honestly superb, you don’t need OEM drivers for 95% of your hardware, the correct NON-generic drivers download automatically.

    If you’re on 7, I honestly thing there’s no reason not to upgrade, the Windows platform has matured enough that the improvements found in 8 have carried across to 10, whilst placating the die-hards who want an actual start menu, and appeasing those of us who actually liked the Start screen as well. Windows 8.1 users might have a harder time justifying the upgrade, unless you hated it and wanted 7 back, of course. XP users, if you’re a home user, drop that old OS like it’s hot and join what Microsoft wants us to believe is the universal future for anything with a CPU (looking at you, Windows IoT Core on my RPi2). I understand corporates will have a harder time switching, but if they’re still on XP, I imagine they’ll go 7 now, 10 later. but whatever works.

    TL;DR I really like Windows 10 from my 6 months or so with it, and it looks promising, but there are some dodgy kinks I hope they iron out by July 29th..

  8. Your comment makes no sense? “still-born” Google OS? Android has the highest market penetration on mobile devices, followed by iOS. Windows holds 92% market share on desktop devices and while Windows Phone is pretty weak right now, “the Linux” whatever that means, is still an OS that consumers generally avoid. Ubuntu, and Debian-based Linux distros are fantastic, don’t get me wrong, and great for power users and computer power-users, simply because it’s so much more powerful and open than Windows, but even if 10 is a flop, there is no way Linux can win the market share war with Windows, if the market consists mainly of ‘ordinary’ consumers, for whom Linux is “too complicated.” I say this as someone who dual-boots Linux and have a reasonable amount of knowledge how it works, by the way, before I get panned for being a Windows fanboy. I’m just stating the market share facts, not an opinion about which OS is better.