Microsoft has finally begun releasing Windows 10, and the verdict is in: most early reviewers think that the new operating system is pretty great. But many of them also have some reservations, both about the new software’s performance and about the strategy behind Microsoft’s new release.
Sean Hollister reports for Gizmodo that “Windows 10 defies review,” noting that while the operating system isn’t a finished product, and never will be, by design, “even some already-announced features aren’t quite here.” Windows 10 is coming to hundreds of millions of different PCs, with different hardware and different apps, and eventually Windows Phones, Xbox One consoles, and the Microsoft HoloLens. “No one person or publication can review all those different experiences,” Hollister explains. “Not even the ones available today, to say nothing of the ones to come.” But that hasn’t stopped numerous early adopters from sharing insights and anecdotes based on their experiences testing the new operating system.
Wired’s David Pierce starts his review with some pretty strong words of recommendation, “Before we go any further, let’s get this out of the way: You should upgrade to Windows 10.” He explains, “If you’re using Windows 8, 7, XP, ME, or 3.1, you should upgrade. Maybe wait a couple of weeks for the biggest bugs to be squashed, but do it. Why wouldn’t you? It’s free, it’s easy, and it’s a huge improvement on whatever version you’re using.” To Pierce, “Windows 10 represents the obvious future of PC operating systems. It makes Mac OS X feel old-fashioned, stuck in a time where The Desktop was a thing that mattered and the only way to access the Internet was through a browser.”
The Verge’s Tom Warren reports that Windows 10 “combines the best aspects of the last two versions of Windows,” and claims that he rarely uses his MacBook Air anymore as a result. In Microsoft’s new operating system, the Start menu lives in the lower left-hand corner like it did in Windows 7, and Microsoft is keeping the Live tiles it introduced in Windows 8 by placing them inside the Start menu. Navigation around Windows 10 is much improved, a new Action Center works as a notification center, and the operating system shows a new focus on features that make multitasking considerably easier.
Additionally, Warren reports that the Cortana voice assistant is “designed to look and feel like an extension of the Start menu, and just like the Windows Phone equivalent, you can also use your voice to search.” Warren explains that Cortana keeps the data it knows about you in a “virtual notebook, which you can edit to trim out information you don’t want it to remember. It’s also cloud powered, meaning you can download Cortana for Android (or iOS in the future) and get the same features there, all synced up with your laptop.” He says that Cortana is also “excellent” at local search, and “having a single interface for virtual assistant searches, web searches, and traditional computer searches… might be my favorite thing about Windows 10.”
Re/Code’s Walt Mossberg reports that Windows 10 is a “rescue mission,” designed to “almost fully backpedal from its 2012 predecessor, Windows 8.” To Mossberg, Windows 10 resembles the 2009-era Windows 7. Some big new features catch the OS up to Apple’s OS X. But the build that Mossberg has been testing has proven “surprisingly buggy,” particularly with Cortana, which he characterizes as Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri.
But Mossberg reports that Windows 10 is “just okay, not disruptive. It’s perhaps what Windows 8 might have looked like if it had been evolutionary, not revolutionary. I doubt it will convert many Mac owners, spur a shopping spree in new PCs, bring in droves of new developers, or save the Windows Phone.” He also recommends that prospective upgraders wait for at least a few months, until the OS has been proven stable and reliable.
After three months of testing Windows 10, Wall Street Journal’s Geoffrey Fowler reports that when you first load Windows 10, you’ll see that “hallelujah, there’s your desktop, unencumbered by gobbledygook. All the important stuff is back where you can find it, including the Start menu.” He says that if you knew how to use Windows XP back in 2001, you’ll be able to find your way around Windows 10, and enumerates its benefits, urging prospective users to upgrade.
“You’ll love its new search,” Fowler reports. “It can do some things other operating systems can’t, like identify your face instead of making you type passwords. It will talk back when you call out, ‘Hey, Cortana,’ to summon Microsoft’s fledgling virtual assistant.” If you rely on a PC, Fowler argues, Windows 10 makes it useful again. But he argues that, despite its benefits, Windows 10 misses some opportunities. The operating system’s “idea of Internet savvy is shoehorning in lots of new ways to get you to use Bing, Microsoft’s unpopular search engine,” he explains. Search plays a much more prominent role in Windows 10 than ever before, and you can type in anything from files to applications to settings to find it.
If your computer is equipped with a microphone, though, you don’t have to type anything at all, and can query Cortana, who can answer questions, launch apps, and help with your calendar. But Fowler says that “Cortana’s still too often a hapless assistant,” noting that she misreads information and too often defaults to Bing searches. However, Windows 10 speeds up multitasking and makes the Windows operating system more secure — even if it still struggles for relevance in an increasingly mobile world of apps, websites, and services more powerful than Microsoft’s.