Windows 10 is out and it’s creating quite a ruckus in the marketplace for a variety of reasons. TechRadar’s overall verdict was, “Feature-wise, Windows 10 is the new Windows 7. Its robust, pleasant to use and free.” The Start menu functionality is excellent, Action Centre features are very useful, the Settings App has finally replaced the Control Panel and everything is generally of a higher quality.
If some of you are wondering whether an update to Windows 10 is a good idea, there are certainly a few things you need to be aware of. For example, Windows 8.1 users will likely miss certain features that they've become accustomed to, the possibility to upgrade for free is for a limited time only and expensive data charges may occur as a result of Windows 10's forced update policy.
Despite the compliments from the online community about the new operating system, Microsoft has been receiving abuse left, right and centre from consumer groups surrounding their forced update policy. Customers living in remote locations have been caught out by this resulting in their data caps being unknowingly exceeded at a high cost. However, consumer groups have warned that it may not just be isolated to remote dwellers.
According to digital rights group: ‘Electronic Frontiers Australia’, (EFA) one Internet user in the Cook Islands has already racked up a $532 Internet bill for August alone. This bill is associated solely with the Windows 10’s update.
John Lawrence, EFA’s executive officer commented, “In this context, where internet access is both painfully slow and seriously expensive, these forced updates are almost literally forcing people off the internet and are resulting in massive excess data charges.”
Telstra, Australia’s largest telecoms company charges $35 a month for a 4GB data cap on a 4G mobile broadband plan, with speeds of up to 50mbps and 1 cents per additional megabyte. While Telstra’s basic broadband plan, costs $75 per month but includes a very generous 100GB of data.
Chief executive of the Australian Communications Consumer Action Network (ACCAN), Teresa Corbin said, “many consumers were unaware that Windows 10 forced updates, or did not realise the initial 3GB Windows 10 upgrade file might cause problems in terms of data usage.”
Corbin explained further, “It doesn’t matter where you live, you need to make sure you’re not using mobile broadband [for upgrades].”
Microsoft began rolling out the new Windows 10 software globally for PC’s and tablets on July 29th, so some customers may still be unaware of potentially big bills headed their way. Another aspect which is unlikely to impress many users is the fact that Microsoft has confirmed that they are piggy-backing off user's Internet connections to upload software updates to other users, through their ‘peer-to-peer’ technology.
Personally, I couldn’t have put Corbin’s words any better myself, where in relation to this peer-to-peer access she said “Nothing is for free; when you get free IT services or apps these days, it usually means you’re the product.”
Despite many concerns from Australians about the looming end of month data usage bills, overall Microsoft has received positive reviews for its updated software. Information technology specialists have supported the company’s popular adage that every other Windows release is a hit, separated by duds.
If you are thinking about downloading it, or already have but simply haven’t installed it yet, you can expect the following. Plus if you've incurred additional costs when downloading, then you may find the following brief review as a silver lining (i.e. money well spent).
Windows 10 bridges the gap between personal computers and tablets without ostracising anyone. The new operating system includes the best features from the old and new systems to deliver a fully cohesive package. Windows 10 corrects all the mistakes and mishaps delivered in Windows 8 and upgrading to the new software is simple and easy. Plus, it’s generally free for all Windows 7 and 8 users.
If you don’t have a multi-purpose device such as a laptop with a touch screen, certain features will be lost on you. The automatic forced updates have already stated causing trouble for Australian residents regarding their monthly mobile data caps. Finally, Cortana’s voice controlled features in Windows 10 are better suited to Windows mobile users than desktop ones.
The (Not So) Ugly Truth
Windows 10 is a more refined, hugely improved vision for the future of Microsoft users. The operating system is just as much at home on your PC as it is your tablet and the upgrade is free for most users. Therefore, if you are on Windows 7 or 8, do yourself a favour and download or install that update for a more streamlined experience. Just make sure you download it over wifi.
Commenting on Windows 10, CNET said “Windows 10 is the Goldilocks version of Microsoft’s venerable PC operating system, a “just right” compromise between the familiar dependability of Windows 7 and the forward looking touchscreen vision of Windows 8.”
To end off with, I just wanted to clarify the discussion around whether or not a Windows 10 upgrade is free for everyone. If you've heard conflicting views, well my understanding according to Microsoft's website is that everyone currently running either Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will be upgraded for free to an equivalent version of Windows 10. Those who have Windows 7 Professional/Ultimate or Windows 8.1 Pro, however, will receive an upgrade to Windows 10 Pro. It's only users with Windows 8 who will need to first upgrade to Windows 8.1, which by the way is also free, before being given the option to upgrade to Windows 10.
The other important thing to note with upgrades is that they'll only be free until the 28th July 2016, so make sure you do this before then. Otherwise a license key for the operating system will cost you, based on current prices, $119 and $199 for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Pro respectively.
If you've already upgraded then we'd love to hear your personal views on what you think of both the upgrade process as well as your experience of Windows 10 so far. So please leave a comment below!