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Why Windows 10? Because 7-ate-9

The new Windows OS seems to have learnt a lesson from its clunkier predecessor

brunch Updated: Aug 08, 2015 18:22 IST
Rajiv Makhni
Rajiv Makhni
Hindustan Times
Windows 10,OS,Windows 8

For those who didn’t get it, the joke, let me tell it slowly and pause after each word.

Why did Windows move straight to 10 and skip 9?
Because 7-Ate-9. Hee Hee!

Okay, here’s another one.
Arnold Schwarzenegger was asked if he wanted to upgrade to Windows 10.
He replied, “I still love Vista, baby”.

And I bet all the Terminator 2 fans amongst you, read that last sentence in Arnold’s voice.

Now that we’ve got some Windows 10 jokes out of the way, time to hit the ground running with the question that’s on everyone’s mind: Should I upgrade?

Windows 10 is the OS that will impact the maximum number of people on this planet. Bigger than anything on any Apple device, bigger than any Android platform update, bigger than any app with a new version.

That’s because about 1.5 billion (yes, billion) people use Windows as their primary OS on desktops, notebooks and tablets – and each of them wants to know if they should risk an upgrade.

Windows 8 turned out to be a real clunker for most. It was an OS in search of an identity. It wanted to be a touchscreen OS but really messed up the desktop and notebook users.

It wanted to be radical but went too far with its live tiles and no-start-button stubbornness. It took away the feel-good factor of previous Windows OSes and had a serious learning curve.

Thus a lot of people are wary about Win10. Is it going to be more radical or correct all the Win8 niggles, or actually come up with something innovative wrapped in a simple-to-use interface?

The big question
Yes, it does have a start button. A really good one. It takes all of what was good about the OSes before and adds some great functionality. It has all the real goodies you need and adds live tiles but in a controlled space.

The other big question

Win10 has Cortana and yes, she’s coming to India. She’ll also understand Indian accents. If you don’t know who Cortana is, do let me know the shape and size of the stone you were under.

Cortana is the name of the AI voice assistant built into the mobile version of Windows and she’s now making an appearance on Win10. Arguably, it’s superior to Apple’s Siri and Google version, with some smart features as well as a fantastic ability to build a profile around the user and offer help.

She understands plain-language queries so you don’t have to structure your question, she refers to you by your first name and she’s also got some humour in her.

I asked Cortana to tell me a joke and this is what I got: Knock-Knock, who’s there? Doris. Doris who? Door is open, come in.

Is it really free?
Yup. It really is. There’s no sleight of hand and no elaborate fine print here. If you have a legitimate copy of anything above and including Win7, you get Win 10 for free. Forever!

Further upgrades happen after a year, but in essence, Win10 for you, is free. If you have a pirated version then things get a little more complicated. There’s a rumour out that Microsoft isn’t going to really care too much and upgrade pretty much everyone.

This is the last windows release ever. what does that mean?
Not much, it’s just a melodramatic statement. Moving forward MS won’t have huge announcements and next-version world launches. They’ll just keep upgrading the software regularly and keep you current.

So what’s to like?

Lots, actually. Task View is a new feature and a real revolution in true multitasking as it provides full thumbnail previews of all open apps and can be used to manage multiple desktops.

Frankly, it’s better than anything I’ve used on any laptop with any OS. Win10 also has a central notifications area, called Action Center where literally everything going on and all messages accumulate in one easy-to-use area.

Microsoft Edge is the new browser that comes with slick features. It’s fast, comes with a reading mode that removes all the clutter from a web page, a read later area that saves things for offline reading and of course Cortana works here too.

Win10 also has some serious gaming features – an Xbox app, streaming Xbox One games from console to PC, and cross-platform gaming where PC and Xbox gamers can play together.

Also added is the native OneDrive and the new Skype integration. More importantly you can go back to full touchscreen live tiles if you’re using it on a tablet or hybrid notebook.

There’s quite a bit more. But that’s mostly technical. The good part is that Win10 is lighter and runs easily on old hardware that has Win7 or even XP. New Win10 embedded versions run on a Raspberry Pi or even a TV stick.

So, should you upgrade to Win10? If you’re happy with WinXP or Vista, or even Win8 (who are you?) – then this may not be the way to go.

But considering it’s free, fast, and you don’t need to invest in new hardware, plus the OS is actually good. I really don’t see a plausible reason for anyone thinking otherwise.

With Microsoft finally getting Win10 right, maybe we can bury one more classic joke that’s been doing the rounds for years: In a New World without Fences and Walls, who needs Gates and Windows?

Rajiv Makhni is managing editor, Technology, NDTV, and the anchor of Gadget Guru, Cell Guru and Newsnet 3

From HT Brunch, August 9
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First Published: Aug 08, 2015 18:22 IST