The time has come, as of today Microsoft’s Windows 10 is available (and an option in all of our systems). Any new OS upgrade presents some potential pitfalls, but Windows 10 promises to improve upon some of the most widely used aspects of both Windows 7 and 8.1, including a friendlier UI, security features and powerful administrative tools. While many users of Windows 7 SP1, Windows 8 and 8.1 may have already upgraded via Microsoft’s upgrade app, enterprise and other volume licensing customers have an alternative, more business-tailored upgrade path.
With release day upon us, let’s take a look at some of the things business users should be aware of with the rollout of Windows 10, including the upgrade process and a few interesting key features.
Avoiding Windows 10 Upgrade Problems
The upgrade streamlining Microsoft is attempting with the aforementioned app was developed to help users more easily upgrade their current Windows environment to the latest version. However, the ease of upgrading may end up resulting in some headaches for business administrators, as eager users may be tempted to upgrade their Windows version before 3rd party software has been vetted for compatibility. If necessary, downgrading to previous versions will be possible, but won’t be as easy as the upgrade process, and it could potentially result in data loss, especially for systems without a recovery partition.
Fortunately, both Pro and Enterprise versions of Windows 10 will come with a more advanced update tool called Windows Update for Business. This tool will allow administrators to roll out updates in waves to devices of their choosing, set maintenance time frames and use peer-to-peer delivery for low-bandwidth satellite locations. Windows 10 also offers greater support and security for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) programs.
On the security side, versions of Windows 10 upgraded from unlicensed or tampered versions will have unique watermarks, making them easier to identify and avoid. Following the same strategy as vendors such as Apple and Google, Microsoft is pushing its users towards rapid adoption of the new OS, knowing that higher conversion to an up-to-date, secure and consolidated software pool is both good for their customers and good for business.
Windows 10: What’s New?
Windows 10 offers a number of new features that seem particularly attractive to business users. While Windows 8 was focused around optimizing the Microsoft ecosystem for a new generation of touch-enabled devices, Windows 10 works to unify the platform to be more intuitive for traditional keyboard and mouse users (still the vast majority of businesses). For example, the “Modern UI” tile interface is no longer a forced, full screen experience and there are a number of other features that business users should be aware of.
Return of the Start Menu:
The Modern UI is replaced by the new Start Menu. The tile interface has been integrated into a streamlined and improved version of the Windows 7 start menu. Quick access to apps, control panels and power settings is once again available in the bottom, left corner and this change is likely to please anyone that has spent a lot of time using legacy versions of Windows.
Microsoft also did away with the often frustrating “Charms Bar”. Instead, users will quickly notice the new “Action Center”. Aside from being easier to access, the Action Center is responsible for collecting all notifications, such as new email alerts from Outlook. Action Center is a handy feature for power users and allows for a unified repository for the overwhelming amount of notifications we all get in a single day.
For years, competing operating systems have had multiple “virtual desktops”, allowing users to organize windows and apps into separate environments to reduce clutter and improve efficiency. Windows 10 adds a similar feature and it’s one that many business users have been asking for.
Windows 10 now includes a much more robust and easy to use suite of productivity apps including a new Mail, Calendar and Maps application. For users that don’t use Outlook, having a simple-to-use and effective Mail and Calendar client is crucial. The new additions in Windows 10 should do this job adequately.
On the surface, a voice activated assistant wouldn’t appeal to business users. However, Cortana could end up being a very useful feature for the busy business user. Cortana has the ability to give quick information via voice or text, but can also dynamically recognize content like addresses, appointments and business hours and add them to your calendar, address book or send the information to a Windows enabled smartphone or tablet. It will be interesting to see how users leverage Cortana in a business setting.
All of these features add up to a more productive and business-friendly version of Windows that promises to offer a number of key advantages. Obviously with any new release of software comes bugs that will need to be addressed, and if you have an embedded computer or appliance that relies on Windows it should first be fully tested to ensure compatibility with the latest version. Also of note, while no Windows 10 Embedded versions have yet been announced, we expect them to follow a similar release schedule of past Windows releases and be available in the next 3-6 months.