Lionel Beck – August 2015
Available from 19th July 2015 as a free upgrade.
Delivered to my PC on 7th August 2015
No problems with installation – took approx. 2 hrs. with some cute and cuddly progress messages, e.g.,
- We’re setting things up for you
- This won’t take long
- Taking care of a few things
- Just a few more tweaks
- It’s taking a bit longer than usual but won’t be long now
At the end of the process as I was left with a plain screen showing date & time in the bottom left, and a wireless icon bottom right. So I clicked on the screen and then I got a sign-in box. This turned out to require the password used for signing into my Microsoft Account, the one used (for example) for signing into OneDrive or online Calendar. It seems that we are now not so much signing into the PC, but to the Microsoft Services that drive it.
The Good the Bad and the Ugly
Keyboard number pad
Each time I booted up the PC I found my keyboard’s “NumLock” had been switched off. I don’t know if this is intentional or a Windows 10 gremlin at work. I hoped I’s solved the problem by going into my Logitech Wireless Keyboard settings and disabling the “NumLock” but this didn't work. Each time I boot up I have to press the "NumLock" key to activate the number pad. It turned out in the end that this wasn't too unfortunate as the first Windows screen you see is the "Lock Screen" which requires a mouse-click or any key press to take you to Login. So I now press the "NumLock" key killing two birds with one stone.
The Mail App called Mail for Windows 10 is very poor. It is basic to the point of being threadbare. Whilst you can use Insert to embed an image into your email, you can’t simply “drag” it into the text. Most importantly for me though, you can’t create folders and sub-folders, so your Inbox will becomes a massive clutter of miscellaneous messages. It should be possible to create a collection of named sub-folders for the Inbox, but it is isn’t. There are complaints about this. If you like downloading your emails to your PC I recommend the use of something like Windows Live Mail which is far superior to the Windows 10 offering. Alternatively, access your stuff direct on your Mail Server(s).
Accessing the Internet
The built-in web browser is called Edge. On the plus side ..
- It is fairly quick and clean looking, and opens/loads pages in reasonable time.
Fig.1 You can annotate on a Web Page in the Edge Browser.
On the minus side ..
- Crucially it does not (as yet anyway) support any extensions or plugins. This means that if you are security-conscious and have many different passwords for different sites, you might have an on-board Password Manager (e.g. Dashlane) to sign you in automatically. Well, if you do, you can’t use it with Edge! So you might as well carry on using Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome.
- On the other hand Edge does have a built-in password manager, but then any browser that remembers passwords is a bigger security risk than a 3rd party manager sitting on your computer.
- For the same reason you can’t use anything like AdBlock to block advertisements, so these can be annoying.
- I couldn’t find any way of importing “favourites” or “bookmarks” from any browser other than Internet Explorer.
Fig.2 Start Menu
The Start Button (or Windows Button - between Ctrl & Alt
Clicking the Windows logo icon far-left of Task Bar, or pressing the Windows Key (on some keyboards it’s marked as Start, and others show the Windows logo) produces something like Fig.2 above. I say “something like” because you can tailor its content and layout, and this one happens to be mine at the time of writing. (NB the right-hand side of the screen has been cropped for the purposes of this example). Pressing the Start Button again closes the menu screen, leaving with you with the familiar Windows screen (on which, incidentally, you may still choose to include your familiar shortcuts to individual files). The left-hand column above Start displays lists some most used APPS and some quick access to functions like File Explorer, Settings, Power button, etc. At the bottom of this list you’ll see All Apps. (Let’s now get used to the fact that “Programs” or “Applications” are now called “Apps”!
Clicking All Apps produces a full alphabetical list of everything on your computer. You can scroll through them, or if you click on any single LETTER you get the entire alphabet in a small grid and you can then click on – for example – N if you want the list of apps beginning with N.
You can drag an app from the list into the main area and it becomes a TILE.
There is no “Control Panel” any more. Most of the controls you want will be found in Settings (that’s the usual cog wheel icon seen near bottom left of Fig. 1) If you want to uninstall a program, simply find it in the alphabetical list shown in Fig. 2 above, right-click on it, and one of the options will be Uninstall.
Those (mainly blue) TILES
Some of the TILES are pre-set with the installation, but you can remove them, change their size, change their position, put them into different categories, and you can create new categories. To place a new TILE on the menu, find the app you want a TILE for in the Apps list, then drag it into the main menu area. In the above image you can see I have added a category called OFFICE, in which I placed TILES for Access, Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Publisher, and Open Office. Size, option to uninstall, turn of “live” functions, unpin from Start, can all be found by right-clicking a TILE.
Some TILES are “live”, for example you can see the Weather App showing the week’s forecast for my location. Beneath that there’s a Photo App running a random slide show from my pictures. The red App TILE (sometimes a photograph, sometimes text) is a live News Feed. Clicking on this takes you to an up-to-date News Page.
The Calendar TILE: If you have made an online calendar entry for the current day, e.g., Doctor’s Appointment, Vacation, Joe Bloggs’ Birthday, this information will show in this TILE. The blank TILE above it takes you to World Time Zones. I replaced this on 11 Aug with a free App downloaded from Microsoft Store that displays the current time as a simple clock.
The Windows 10 menu system is designed to operate, if required, in touch-screen mode – suitable for Windows Phones, Laptops and Tablets.
For normal Desktop PC operation with a mouse, all TILES are activated by a SINGLE left-click.
The Start Menu Search Box initially refused to function, but behaved satisfactorily later. Forum posts have indicated that after first installation of Windows 10 it takes a bit of time for the indexing system to settle down. But nearly a week later it had another melt-down which I resolved by re-starting the PC.
You can type anything into the Start Menu Search Box – a single word, a file name, phrase, question, and possible answers are displayed (as links) as you type. You have the option of searching on “Your Stuff” on the computer or alternatively on the Web. The file for the document you are reading is called “Notes on using Windows 10”. All I need to do to open it is type into the Search Box .. Notes on .. by which time the file’s been identified and shows as a link above the Search Box. Clicking on it opens the document. Search results for the Web by default are displayed by the BING search engine. No surprise there .. it’s Microsoft’s own!
Bing is not bad in my opinion. It’s just that Google got in there so far ahead of the game that the phrase “To Google” is common parlance, and it’s encouraged a kind of psychological dependency, accompanied by a nagging suspicion that Bing (or anything else) cannot surely be as good. I typed “taxis thornton dale” into both Bing and Google ..
Fig.4 – Bing Search Results
Fig.5- Google Search Results
Different formats, but similar results.
Incidentally, I was able to print Figs. 4 and; 5 here by using another feature of the Edge browser. In addition to annotating with pen and text notes, you can also take a clipping from the page. It’s copied to your system’s “Clipboard” and is then available for pasting into your document.
Typing “Lionel Beck” into Bing and Google produced the following ..
In the first page Bing found fewer relevant entries than Google, and Google found more images. The one significant difference was that on Bing’s first page, Facebook was listed, whereas on the Google first page we find both Facebook and Twitter links.
Again, Figs. 6 and 7 show the editing feature of the Edge browser. Ticks, crosses, and circling with red pen, then clipping, copying andpasting from the page.
Having said all that, if you don’t like the fact that the Start Menu Search Box uses BING by default for web searches you can, of course, just open a Web Browser and go to GOOGLE!
Windows 10 comes with Microsoft’s OneDrive.
If you move your important file folders into OneDrive and/or save your files into the OneDrive folders, then they are synchronised with OneDrive.com storage in the “Cloud”.
Going to OneDrive.com you’ll find copies of all your files. They can be viewed, shared, or downloaded back to your computer in the event of loss.
So what about, say, SugarSync? (to name but one other cloud storage system). Good question. Do we need it?
SugarSync is a subscription service, but it gets more favourable technical reviews than OneDrive. On the other hand OneDrive provides 15GB of FREE storage. File formats are restricted to those normally founds in MS Office apps, though if you work entirely in Apache OpenOffice independently of the usual Microsoft stuff, you can specify that OneDrive accepts those formats.
Currently I have decided to adopt the security of Belt, Braces, & Nail through the Belly Button:
I have my important files in OneDrive, and my OneDrive files are also synchronised to SugarSync!!
What could possibly go wrong?! J
If anything does, I’ll report it, but I created a test Word document and saved it. Then, within a minute, I went to SugarSync.com and my file was there. I went to OneDrive.com and my file was there too. Sweet!
I tried the Maps App and found it to be quick, efficient, and useful. I typed my Post Code into the Maps Search Box and it produced a clear street map and my location.
As you’d expect you can zoom in or pull out of this (until you’re looking at the whole Country if necessary). You can also select Show Traffic.I then tried the Route function and typed in From: (my Post Code)
You can select a “Google Earth” type view (which Bing maps call “Aerial”) ..
You can select a “Google Earth” type view (which Bing maps call “Aerial”) ..
To: Falkirk Wheel, ScotlandAnd got the entire route on a UK map. This was accompanied on the left-hand side by a detailed set of driving instructions and approximate journey time.
Selecting Traffic as a map option colour codes the principle roads according to traffic density: Green, Yellow, and Red. (Stripes indicated Road Closed).
This App puts up a screen with all the current financial news, and there are menu options for Currency Conversions, Markets, Watch List, Mortgage Calculator etc. It all seemed to work well.
This allows you to sync your PC with your smartphone, and you can choose between Windows Phone, iPhone, or Android.
Well, it’s all very clever, but as I don’t have several thousand pounds to spare for a 3-D Printer I’m not going to use this APP so I’ve uninstalled it.
I am still using Malwarebytes anti-Malware on my computer.
Microsoft’s free anti-virus program Security Essentials is now baked into Windows 10 as “Windows Defender”.
More features than Windows 7
Initial unfamiliarity. Many people don’t like change.
Ability to tailor the Start Menu screen, sizing and positioning of Tiles, and placing in named categories.
Start Menu Search Box a bit flaky. Resolved by a PC re-start.
Start Screen Tiles are activated by single left-click.
“Mail for Windows10” is poor, but you don’t have to use it. If you had an alternative mail app on Windows 7 you’ve still got it.
Easy Uninstall for unwanted Apps by right-clicking the Tile (or the Icon in the list of Apps.)
Whilst Tiles are linked to Apps and can also be linked to Folders, they cannot be linked directly to a specific file. NB: but shortcut icons to files can still be put on the standard Windows screen visible when the Start Menu is closed.
Seamless synchronisation with online services such as Calendar, OneDrive cloud storage, News services, Financial News, Movies and TV, Games, Weather etc.
The Windows10 Search Box by default utilises Bing search engine for Web results. NB: This is only a problem for people who insist on Google but there is nothing to stop you opening a Browser and going to Google anyway.
“Edge” Web Browser is quick and clean looking, with facilities for annotation, highlighting, drawing, and clipping. Passwords can be remembered (though this is a security risk).
“Edge” Web Browser (so far) doesn’t support extensions or plugins, which prevents linking to external password managers, advert blockers, bank security monitoring apps etc. No facility for importing Bookmarks or Favourites from any previous browser other than Internet Explorer.
NB: You are not obliged to use Edge.
Easy-to-use Settings screen (instead of the old “Control Panel”).
OneDrive – A convenient facility for Backup to the “Cloud”.
Maps function, using Bing Maps, provides clear mapping including ability to view them with traffic information and as aerial Google Earth-type views; also Routes and navigation instructions.
On current performance at the time of writing I feel it is unlikely that I will revert to Windows 7.
© Lionel Beck - 13th August 2015
14th August 2015Support for Windows 7, i.e., extended support and security fixes, ends in 2020
Getting Help with Windows 10
I’ve found that trying to get help via the Microsoft Help Desk is a hopeless venture. Although online chat is available it is too heavily subscribed to be of practical use; you could be waiting hours. You can schedule a call back, but again it could be many hours.
The good news is that another option is to post your query to the Microsoft Community forum. I’ve mentioned a couple of problems, and found that within a couple of days, someone comes back with an answer (often from a Microsoft Engineer).
15th August 2015
My NumLock key still needs re-setting each time I perform a cold boot, but I'm still pressing that key as my way of getting from the Lock Screen to the Login Screen.
The Start Menu crashed today. I could use the standard Windows screen and shortcuts on it, but pressing the Windows Button or clicking on the Start Button produced no reaction. I restarted the PC and all was well again.