Windows 10, 5 Years On – The MEH


10 MEH things about Windows 10, as-of Version 2004, 5 years on:

WINDOWS STORE: great-idea to have a central-place to get apps from (safer than random website downloads), but many common-apps, even free ones, aren’t in there. It can also be a bit awkward to use with an old-style, local Windows account: the built-in apps may not auto-update, and its unclear you can click X when asked to sign-into a Microsoft Account to continue without one. It could also do with making it visually-clearer when an app is the official, genuine one, and remove a lot of the junk apps, and move items currently in the wrong categories.

WINDOWS SECURITY: nice new features, such as Ransomware Protection or Offline Scan, but the UI doesn’t feel as-simple as Microsoft Security Essentials was, and some settings, such as “Allow an app through the Firewall”, resort to opening a legacy Control Panel window, rather than it being integrated. The UI during a manual definition-update barely updates progress, so appears hung. And in the Exploit / Application Guard area there is a wealth of per-app settings your average-user won’t have a clue on. Especially for home-users, feels overly-complicated.

TIMELINE: useful, I’m sure, but not entirely sure what percentage of the user-base actually uses it, compared to say the “old-habits-die-hard” method of just using standby or hibernate to have all the apps you were working on last-session all re-appear next-time.

SETTINGS: still feels a bit-messy in how things are categorised. For example, (1) you’ll find “Display”, “Sound” and “Battery” are all in the “System” area, not “Devices” and (2) “Backup”, “Recovery” and “Troubleshoot” are all found inside the “Update & Security” area.

FILE EXPLORER: it still cannot view/extract any archive-format other-than CAB or ZIP (ZIPX, 7-Zip and RAR are all no-nos); there’s no tabbed view, to keep everything inside one window (though via the Store you could download the revived Windows File Manager app!); and still something as-simple as ripping an Audio CD is done via Windows Media Player, rather than going into the CD, copying-and-pasting the tracks and being asked after clicking Paste what format to save them as. (I also think it was a mistake originally, when users had their in-place upgrades from Windows 7 or 8 to hide the drives in File Explorer by-default: “Open File Explorer to: This PC” should have been set as the default to avoid user-confusion.)

VIRTUAL DESKTOPS: one I use a lot, but the feature’s name is a bit misleading compared to Spaces on macOS: each desktop shares the same icons and wallpaper, they are not truly separate: you just run different apps on each one. But even that needs more tweaking, as (1) it still doesn’t always remember which desktop you last used an app on, (2) dialog-boxes do not always show on the same desktop the app is on: some only appear on the first one and (3) some app dialog-boxes roam as you change desktops, others stay on the one they first appeared on.

CORTANA: Microsoft are slowly unwinding Cortana’s integration, and I’m not too-surprised as barely anyone I know ever uses it, beyond just for fun. I also don’t think some of the voices sound very-natural: try listing to some of the phrases said during a Windows 10 install: some are very-natural (“Okay, enough intro, let’s dig in!”), and some very robotic (“A splash of <something> here and dash of Wi-Fi there and we’ll have your computer ready for all you plan to do.”) When it does turn robotic, at-least its not back to Microsoft Sam levels, I guess.

BUILT-IN MODERN UI APPS: all are useful on touch-screen devices, given their more spaced-out UI with larger buttons, but functionality-wise some are still better than others. Mail has got-better over-time; Photos is fine, but takes too-long to load; Calculator doesn’t seem to do anything new since the Windows 7 era update; Alarms & Clock has a very basic, bland UI; I rarely find myself using News, compared to just Google News in a browser; Weather I guess does all you could ask of a weather app; Maps works, but I still generally use Google Maps.

SEARCH: slower than the old Windows Search (and often gets broken by various Windows Updates), and also doesn’t show anything from the old Control Panel, so if you type EFFECTS you’ll not see “Adjust the appearance and performance of Windows”: you have to open Control Panel, and use the search box inside there. (This wouldn’t be an issue, of course, if Microsoft had made more-progress by-now on getting stuff moved-over!)

PERFORMANCE: this will of course be-subjective, but Windows 10’s boot-up is more hard-disk heavy than Windows 7: from a cold-boot or restart to a stable desktop takes a lot longer, especially on machines which still use a magnetic HDD. If we upgrade machines at work from Windows 7 to Windows 10 (a typical machine is max 3-4 years old; minimum 8GB of RAM, and we usually insist on upgrading to 16GB; Intel Core i5 or i7 (no i3 or lower); and 500GB-1TB HDD, or 250GB SATA or M.2 SSD), a common-complaint is “it’s slower than Windows 7”. This also despite how in Windows 10 builds, we use SCEP (Microsoft’s own, enterprise-targeted AV) and BitLocker, whereas on Windows 7 we used third-party solutions for each. Sure, Windows 10 on a HDD isn’t as-bad as Vista was, when Superfetch would load into RAM all of the apps it thought you’d use that day, but its still bad-enough to irritate users. Microsoft really either see what they can do to speed-up the boot (“Fast Startup” doesn’t seem to have helped, much), or insist OEMs use an SSD or SSHD as the default-option.

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