The Best and Worst of Windows 10: Can Microsoft Stay Competitive?
Over the past week or so, the buzz around Windows 10 has exploded. It’s Microsoft’s first major operating system
update since the oft-criticized Windows 8 that attempted to marry the best features of desktops and tablets while
offering subpar functionality in both areas. Now, after much hype and a week full of knee-jerk reactions, the dust
has settled and Windows 10 is comfortably loaded on millions of PCs.
So what’s the verdict? Is this the boost Microsoft needs to stay afloat amongst major competitors like Apple and Google?
Windows 10 offers a ton of new, intuitive, helpful features that any desktop user can enjoy:
· A way better Start menu. You’ve probably heard already, but the Start menu of Windows 10 has vastly improved the nonexistent presence it had in Windows 8. You now have a hybrid approach between traditional desktop interfaces and the app-based grid of Windows 8, which offers the best of both worlds in one screen.
· A great personal digital assistant. Cortana, Microsoft’s version of Siri, is much smarter and more intuitive than many digital assistants on the market. With a few spoken words, Cortana can find anything you’re looking for, whether it’s on your hard drive or online.
· A better browser. Finally, Microsoft has ditched Internet Explorer in favor of the Edge-powered Spartan, which offers faster loading times, sleeker navigation, and interactive tidbits that offer suggestions and supplementary information when you visit certain websites.
· An intuitive switch between tablet and desktop modes. Windows 10 does what Windows 8 tried (and failed to do): offer a uniform experience between two radically different types of devices. Now, you can easily and comfortably shift between using a device as a tablet or as a desktop, and the operating system offers much more intuitive and smooth controls in the transition.
Clearly, Windows 10 isn’t perfect. These are some of the worst new features you’ll find:
· The search is distracting. The handy taskbar-located search tool is great when you’re looking for something—sometimes. Whenever you start searching for something, Cortana searches for it both on your computer and on the web. This takes time, and slows down what could be a simpler process if it were separated in local and online forms.
· Multiple settings menus make it confusing. Control Panel and Settings are two different places where you can control two different types of settings. It’s a minor issue, but if you’re one for intelligent customizability for your machine, this is probably going to cause you at least one headache along the way.
· Privacy concerns are high. There are a number of privacy issues with Windows 10, and it still has a lot of people riled up. The new Microsoft service agreement basically says that the company has full access to the content of your computer (though you can opt out of this feature, it defaults to opting you in). Plus, the intelligent digital assistant Cortana has perpetual and limitless access to your camera, microphone, contacts, calendar, and pretty much everything else you have. Add in the recent concerns over the Wi-Fi sharing feature and you have an operating system that is nerve-wracking for any user even slightly concerned with personal privacy.
What It Means for Microsoft
As far as I’m concerned, most users will either love or hate Windows 10, regardless of its practicality. So far, users are reasonably happy overall, and I anticipate that this operating system will fare well over the next few years. But the bigger question is, will this new operating system position Microsoft to be more competitive with the other leading tech giants?
Microsoft isn’t trying to compete with Apple in the smartphone market, nor is it trying to compete with Google in the web services market. Instead, it’s forging its own path with great new desktop software, a reasonable mobile presence, and smart new subscription features that keep users happy (and keep them paying). Ultimately, Microsoft will never be able to compete directly with Apple in terms of the appeal of its products, but it isn’t trying to anymore. Instead, it’s taking a smarter path toward profitability and remaining in a marketable niche. And that’s what’s going to keep the company alive for decades to come.