Windows 10 - First Impressions
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Microsoft's new system
Windows 10 is the newest version of Microsoft Windows and it may be the last. Microsoft intends to update it continually; that is, daily or weekly or as often as necessary to keep it safe and useful. There will be no version 10.1, 10.2 and so forth, and no service packs to download. Further, they're not making it easy to refuse the updates, and this has caused some consternation because sometimes Windows updates cause problems. However, the best advice is to go ahead and receive the updates if only for the security they will provide. After using Windows 10 for a little over two months now, I still advise folks who haven't upgraded to wait until this December or January before taking advantage of the free upgrade, but I also predict that you will be delighted with it when you finally do.

The caution
Windows 10 is not quite ready for prime time yet. The two other people I know who have upgraded from Windows 7 to Windows 10 have had one kind of trouble or another: applications that don't work, strange messages from the system and the like. In my own case, Windows Mail, which is Windows 10's built-in email program, would not allow me to set it up with my Optimum email account. It insisted on changing my Optimum password in the account settings, and so I was unable to send mail with it. I got a little taste of it, though and I found it quick and easy to use. Fortunately, Windows 10 seems to also come with Windows Live Mail 2012, which works fine with Optimum Mail and as a work-around for Mail until it gets straightened out.

Delightful parts
Microsoft advises new users to set up what are called Microsoft Accounts instead of the more familiar Local type because Microsoft Accounts make it easier for users to get the most out of Windows, and you can use an account like this to log into any Windows 8.x or Windows 10 computer, even one you've never used before. To affect this, Microsoft saves all your settings in the Internet, on their server. I resisted at first because I figure my business is none of their business, though I finally gave in because some of Windows 10's best features don't work with Local accounts, like Cortana and the Store.

This is the highly-touted personal assistant program that you can speak with, like Apple's Siri. Cortana can recognize normal, natural English and she speaks with an actual, pre-recorded human voice, that of Jen Taylor, a voice actress. In some cases she uses a synthetic voice, but it's derived from sound recordings by Ms. Taylor. Cortana is especially useful and effective within certain categories, like reminders, setting appointments in your Calendar, weather, stocks, sports, flights and news. And you can dictate emails to her. She lives in the taskbar Search box and seems to have replaced Windows Help entirely. Like Siri, she has a personality and is quick to provide jokes and silly answers to silly questions you might have. Really fun to play around with.

The Store
The Microsoft Store is the source for thousands of free and paid applications for your Windows 8.x and Windows 10 computer. Many of the paid ones offer a free one-week trial. There's no entering of password, restarting, unzipping or manually installing anything. No muss, no fuss because Microsoft knows and trusts you and keeps track of apps you've downloaded. They even keep them updated automatically for you. Best and safest way to get or try new programs.

Edge, the new browser
With Windows 10, Internet Explorer is being replaced with a new browser, called Edge. My first impression of it was not good. Because it was designed with no menubar and to use as little screen space as possible, it lacks some very important features, like Save as. But Edge introduces some great new features. My favorite is Reader view. You browse to a page with lots of ads, links, banners and blinking stuff, and you click the Reader view button, and you are treated to a view of the article that only has the text and associated pictures. It even takes a multi-page article and presents it on one page. Many of Internet Explorer's commands are available in Edge through IE's old keyboard shortcuts, like Control-P for Print and Control-W for Close window.

Bottom line
Overall, Windows 10 is a winner. And Microsoft plans to add features and, as with Cortana, intelligence. It might be a good idea to buy or borrow a book about Windows 10, like David Pogue's Windows 10, the missing manual.
October 13, 2015

John G. Thomas,  your all-natural geek for

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