Friday, July 31, 2015

Windows 10 - some bugs but 14 million users seem happy

Windows 10 has finally arrived and ended the misery for millions that detested Windows 8 and 8.1. And within 24 hours some 14 million PC users had taken up the offer from Microsoft of the free upgrade [Telegraph].

While the update has won praise from most people who installed it, there has been some criticism.

Default search to Bing

One of the biggest gripes is the fact that the search box incorporated in the taskbar which allows users to find things on their PC or the web defaults to Bing when searching the Internet. Installing Windows 10 also changed the default browser to Microsoft's new Edge browser which angered many [Fortune].

There is an option to maintain previous defaults, but users have to click the button that says "customize settings," and jump through a series of hoops. While the default browser is easily changed back to Chrome, IE or Firefox, the default Bing search in the taskbar cannot be so easily changed though Chrome user can install an extension to divert searches [Telegraph].

Of course, users can disable web search altogether and use the search box for local searches only. However doing so disables Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Google Now and Apple's Siri.

For those happy enough with the Bing default search, some are encountering other issues such as an error message suggesting their country and language settings are incompatible.

Cortana issues

Many users have complained they are confronted with a message stating "Cortana isn't supported in the region/language you've selected ".

"My region, language, speech etc are all set to English UK and Cortana just won't work and there's no information explaining how to fix it," one Reddit user complained.

Others observed there appeared to be more issues for those upgrading from Windows 7 than Windows 8.

While certainly a problem, it is more Microsoft's loss since many people will simply do without Cortana. And since many are more familiar with Apple's and Google's services few will miss any advantages that Cortana might offer.

Little Google integration

One main feature of both Windows 8 and 10 is the use of and integration of 'apps'. However there is almost no facility to integrate services many people may already use such as Google Calendar or Google Maps.

While it is understandable that Microsoft want to promote their own alternatives, it is unlikely that users will migrate to Microsoft's offerings.

Those who use a local music player might also notice changes as Microsoft has done away Windows Media Player and the later Windows Media Center.

Microsoft has replaced them with modified versions of Xbox Music and Xbox Video, which have been renamed as 'Groove' and 'Movies & TV' respectively. Groove users can upload all their MP3s - including those purchased from iTunes - to Microsoft's cloud service, OneDrive, and access them using the Groove app on any Windows device, Xbox, or via a web browser. Microsoft said that the Groove app will also be available on Android phones and iPhones soon.

Again such it may only be new PC users that might take up such options since many people will have already committed themselves to Google Music or iTunes.

Missing programs

A major issue that some have encountered has been the apparent removal of programs. Google Pinyin IME has disappeared as an input option from many users' computers despite not actually being uninstalled. A simple reinstall seems to resolve that bug however.

Others have seen their Norton Anti-Virus software eradicated forcing them to reinstall it [Norton Forum].

Hidden fees and errors

Some early adopters have also griped at the fact that Microsoft are charging for the game card game Solitaire which has been a staple of the operating system almost since Windows began [Fortune].

Microsoft has also been ridiculed for its less than helpful 'Something happened' error messages [Fortune]. One publication referred to it as the "silliest error message yet" [BGR].

Spying and privacy

But the biggest bugbear amongst a large number of Windows 10 users is Microsoft's privacy policy which for some is far too intrusive. Indeed some have described Cortana as rather 'creepy' [Telegraph].

Microsoft stresses that Cortana will only access the information users allow it to access. Users can block access to that information, but for novices it can be a minefield trying to find the appropriate settings.

In order to deny access one needs to open Settings and click on Privacy before scrolling through 13 different screens to check or uncheck options, some of which are rather vague in their description [Yahoo].

Favourable reviews

Despite the bugs, privacy issues and bizarre error messages most people seem to be happy with Windows 10 thus far.

It's certainly an improvement on Windows 8.0 and 8.1. As for those moving from Windows 7 the biggest change is the rather boxy graphics and a change of icons.

As an operating system Windows 10 is certainly a step forward, and there won't be many that are disappointed with having made the move, even if they don't make full use of all the additional features [Fortune]. There is one feature lost on Windows 10 that few have mentioned. Unlike all versions since Windows 3.1, there is no start-up sound [YouTube].

For those nostalgic about the past here's a couple of links looking back at the evolution of Windows. The first is a simple but slick graphic from On The Hub. This link from YouTube shows the evolution from Windows 1 through to 8.

tvnewswatch, London, UK