No point in waiting
Windows 10 is finally here, and while it's generally smarter to see how things go with new software for a while before diving in yourself, I couldn't wait to upgrade to Microsoft's latest operating system on not one, but two computers. And neither should you.
Between Xbox One game streaming, the return of the Start Menu and Cortana, there are plenty of reasons to get excited. Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to make Windows 10 the most loved release of Windows yet and the first truly worthy successor to Windows 7 (sorry, Windows 8.1 and Windows 8).
Whether you're an OS convert, complete newcomer or a veteran user coming from an older Windows release, there's almost no reason not to jump on the Windows 10 ship right now.
In it for the long haul
While Microsoft has promised to support Windows 8.1 until 2023, Windows 10 has surely become the main focus for the company's software development, giving you all the more reason to abandon the old ship now.
Windows 10 will be one of the longest lived operating system ever. Microsoft has promised it will continue to support and develop new features for the OS until October 13, 2020. Five years of continual updates is a stark contrast to the year-long gap between Windows 8 and 8.1's respective releases. Windows 7 only saw the limelight for three years before it was pushed off the main stage by Windows 8.
What's more, after "mainstream" support ends, Windows 10 will still receive security patches and other extended support for another five years, ending on October 14, 2025.
Even the manner in which software updates are distributed is going to change with more updates coming outside of Patch Tuesdays. Rather than waiting to send important updates and new features on the second Tuesday of every month, Microsoft plans to release a steady stream of patches throughout the month.
While this will mean having to stop and download updates more regularly, faster responses to bugs and vulnerabilities will be better for everyone in the long run. This is by far one of the most important reasons to get off the older and slower to update versions of Windows.
Fixing the desktop
If you're fed up with the disjointed desktop experience on Windows 8.1 and Windows 8, then Windows 10 is your ticket out.
More than anything else, Windows 10 represents a return to form after the introduction of a full-screen Start Menu irked so many. It wasn't a surprise to hear applause when Microsoft announced the return of a revamped Start Menu in its newest operating system.
The new Start Menu will allow you to scroll through your list of applications and dive into folder trees just as the old standby did in Windows 7. Of course, things will change a bit with the Live Tiles livening up the Start Menu with a constant stream of new information and animations.
Windows 10 also changes the way Modern applications work by putting them into resizable windows that live right next to your regular applications, which is something Windows 8.1 never got right.
Cortana and gaming
Did you miss me
Windows 10 is also the first desktop OS to debut with a full-featured digital assistant, named Cortana. Siri has yet to make its way OS X and won't be showing up in El Capitan, unless Apple has some forthcoming surprises. Google Now voice search is available on all laptops and desktops through Google's Chrome browser, but it's no where nearly as useful as it is on Android.
Besides being the first one out of the gate, Cortana is a just great new way to control your computer with voice commands. All you need to do is say "Hey, Cortana" to summon the spunky assistant on your computer to help you look up files, weather and traffic details, and other information on the web.
What's more, Cortana will learn more about you and start to anticipate your needs, even making music suggestions and automatically setting reminders based on items in your calendar.
For now, it seems like Cortana will be Windows 10 exclusive and won't trickle down to Window 8.1. That's a shame, but all the more reason to upgrade sooner rather than later.
Finally made for PC gamers
Perhaps one of Windows 10's coolest features is that it can stream games playing on a Xbox One to a PC through a home wireless network. Streaming could also be a boon to anyone tired of fighting family and roommates over who gets to use the big-screen TV tonight. It's a solution very similar to the Wii U's Gamepad, but Windows 10 enables game streaming to so many more devices.
It might seem pointless to play Xbox games on a harcore PC rig, but Windows 10 opens up streaming to all types of Windows devices including laptops and tablets that are light on hulking performance muscle.
At the same time, Microsoft is redoubling its efforts to bring games to the PC, starting with Fable Legends, Gears of War Ultimate Collection and Killer Instinct. Both Killer Instinct and Fable Legends will even support cross-platform play, letting Xbox One owners run alongside (or brawl it out) with their PC friends. So for you Xbox One gamers with a spare Windows computer lying around: you're just leaving cool features on the table by waiting to download.
One thing Windows 7 and 8.1 users won't need to worry about is paying for the upgrade – the OS is free for those folks to download for one year. The freebie deal is unprecedented from Microsoft, and it completely removes one barrier that might stop you from picking up the new OS right now.
Typically upgrading from one Windows release to the next meant getting pegged with a 100-buck upgrade fee, as was the case for going from Windows Vista or Windows XP to Windows 7 and Windows 8 after that.
That said, you'll need a genuine version of Windows (i.e. one you paid for it), otherwise Microsoft's latest operating system will cost you $119 (£99, AU$179) for the Home Edition. Meanwhile, Windows 10 Pro will cost $199 (£131, AU$299).
So get on with downloading it, or as Shia would say…
- Catch up with all the Windows 10 happenings