Windows 10 – 15 days in. Also big book announcement!

Windows 10 – 15 days in. Also big book announcement!

Windows 10 was released on 29th July, just over two weeks in, how is it going? Should you upgrade yet? and what should you look out for?

All good questions! Microsoft is keen for everyone to upgrade – they’ve set the target of having Windows 10 on a billion devices by 2017: http://money.cnn.com/2015/06/24/technology/windows-microsoft-sales/

The upgrade process, when it works well, is very smooth. I’ve documented the process and steps in my book (more below!) but you can download the chapter on upgrading for free here: http://www.22point.com.au/publications.html

The main problem I had on my computer was most of the way through installation when it asked for my Microsoft ID (that you use for Skype, OneDrive, Xbox or other Microsoft services), I realised I’d forgotten it! I reset it on my phone though and you can create one at that point if needed. Other than that, it went fairly painlessly. On my wife’s laptop, her files, settings and programs transferred beautifully, but her mouse driver and speaker driver didn’t work meaning neither of those devices worked until we uninstalled the old drivers and Windows reverted to generic drivers which seem to work fine. For every person who has had trouble with the upgrade (some much worse than my wife’s), there are others who had a hassle free journey. If you use a branded computer (HP, Acer, etc), I’d recommend looking up the model and see what the manufacturer advises before upgrading.

You can either use the “Get Windows 10” item in your system tray (which should also flag any programs or hardware which might cause problems) or you can download ISO images from Microsoft directly: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10 Note if you use the image you still need to “upgrade” in order to transfer your license across. You can choose to keep “nothing” during the install, which is one way of starting fresh and getting rid of any extra software bundled with your computer: http://www.howtogeek.com/216751/bloatware-banished-windows-10-eliminates-the-need-to-ever-reinstall-windows-on-new-pcs/

So, SHOULD you upgrade? The main points I would make are:

* Windows 10 is fairly stable – I haven’t had any crashes at all lately. I find Chrome freezes for a few seconds occasionally opening a new window, and on my wife’s laptop Outlook regularly freezes, sometimes for minutes on end.
* There are still glitches and features which don’t work completely (keyboard navigation through the Action Center, and Edge browser not recognising most screen reader navigation quick keys being several examples).
* Coming from Windows 7, the desktop and system tray are similar to what you’re used to. The Start menu is a little different and we’ll look at that shortly.
* Coming from Windows 8, the tiles in the start menu (you can go full screen) look familiar, and you can still type into the search box when you bring up the start menu.
* Not every program (or piece of hardware) works with Windows 10 yet, so check with your manufacturer on anything you need access to. Most AT vendors have announced either current or upcoming support for Windows 10:

Jaws 16 and Magic 13 both Windows 10 ready: http://www.freedomscientific.com/About/News/Article/141

Window Eyes 9.2 Works with Windows 10, Zoomtext not yet Windows 10 ready:
http://www.aisquared.com/support/more/windows_10_status

Supernova (beta), Guide, EasyConverter, EasyReader and Dolphin Publisher all Windows 10 ready:
http://www.yourdolphin.com/newsitem.asp?id=776

NVAccess recommending waiting until NVDA 2015.3 (due in late August):
http://www.nvaccess.org/win10/

Glassbrick don’t have anything on their website, it seems to work ok. On my machine I had to run in compatibility mode with display scaling disabled otherwise I couldn’t see the bottom of the screen (possibly a resolution issue rather than Windows 10 specifically?):
http://www.glassbrick.org/

Serotek have a similar position to NVAccess – System Access works with some aspects of Windows 10 however they recommend holding off upgrading both until their next version and until Microsoft iron out some of the early bugs in Windows 10:
http://www.serotek.com/blog_our_position_on_windows_10

And finally our own extra large mouse pointers work well in Windows 10: http://www.22point.com.au/cursors.html

demo_cursor

If you use adaptive technology, such as Jaws or Window Eyes, when you start the upgrade, it will speak through the first part. Once the computer has rebooted during the install, you will need to use Narrator to guide you through the rest of the install by pressing WINDOWS+U (and then need to reinstall your AT after the upgrade). How long you have to wait to start Narrator is tricky to guess – I have heard reports anyrwhere from 20 mins to 3 hours. Our computers here (1 – 5 years old), took 1 – 1 ½ hours. I would start it going, then come back and check whether WINDOWS+U does anything every 20 minutes or so.

One of the most eagerly anticipated features of Windows 10 is the Start menu.

start menu

The left side will look familiar to those used to Windows 7. Your username up the top gives option to change account settings, lock, sign out or change user. Below that are some of your most used and newest apps and under that a handful of system items including “File Explorer”, “Settings”, “Power” (where you shut down, sleep or restart) and “all apps” (changes that whole side of the start menu to an alphabetical list of every app you have installed). Windows favours the term “App” over “Program” but essentially they are interchangeable for many purposes.

The right side contains a grid of Windows 8 style tiles. When you pin something to the start menu, this is where it ends up (I’ve seen several sites mention pinning things to the left side of the start menu, however I haven’t been able to get these to work on any of our machines:
http://www.howtogeek.com/197836/8-ways-to-customize-the-windows-10-start-menu/). As well as simply launching apps, some of the tile are “Live” eg the weather and news, which display the temperature and the top news stories respectively.

When you press the Windows key or click the Start button, focus moves to the search bar where you can start typing an app or file name, a setting or any phrase to search the web for. This is consistent with previous versions but with extra functionality.

cortana

Cortana will likely also be of interest to many people – essentially you can dictate commands or information and it works very similarly to Siri on iOS or Google Now on Android. I’ve found the recognition is ok, particularly for launching apps for instance – it made a few more mistakes when I dictated text to type in an email but I could do it (much like using Siri for the same task). Here’s a more in depth look at what you can do with Cortana: https://techranker.net/cortana-commands-list-microsoft-voice-commands-video/

So what’s bad about the new Windows 10? Here’s a roundup of some of the main issues:

– Security: Some settings which are on by default include connecting to open Wi-Fi networks, letting any of your facebook friends automatically connect to your network without needing a password if they happen to drop by and search sending everything you type into the search box straight back to Microsoft. One handy guides on security settings (and tightening them up) is: https://fix10.isleaked.com/

Default apps are lost when you update. You can set them up again by going into search (hit the Windows key) and typing “default apps” and there you can set the default apps for various things.

Updates: One of the most contentious topics with Windows 10 is updates. If you have the home version, you get every update that comes out – both security patches (good!) and feature updates (could be good or bad). Several ways around this are: Buy the professional version and set it to receive updates on the “Professional branch for business” – you still get feature updates, but a few months down the track hopefully when any issues are fixed. Some users have also found themselves in an endless cycle of reboots after installing corrupt driver updates. If that’s you, this may be the relevant page to read: http://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/forum/windows_10-update/cumulative-update-for-windows-10-for-x64-based/7df7a262-42e6-4377-adf8-04a3beaed7b6?auth=1

Overall I like the new version, but I still recommend most users hold off for another couple of months to give the various boffins time to iron out the early bugs and get everything running smoothly for everyone, but if you do decide to upgrade, and once you get through the install, you should find most things work fairly well.

Finally my big announcement! “Making Windows 10 Easy to See” is now available!

[cover art for Making Windows 10 Easy to See]

[cover art for Making Windows 10 Easy to See]

Designed for users of laptops, desktop PCs and tablets. It’s the first book designed to help you not only get the most out of Windows 10, but also to help you set it up so you don’t need to squint.
Topics include:
– Turning on for the first time,
– Using larger fonts and magnifier,
– Getting around Windows,
– Common apps and tasks,
– All in easy to understand language.
Plus join the Making Windows Easy online community free!

Available directly from 22 Point at a special introductory price: http://www.22point.com.au/publications.html

Have you upgraded yet? How have you found the experience?

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