Windows 10 is Here

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Users who reacted to Windows 8 with howls of incredulity can take heart: Microsoft is bending over backwards with Windows 10 to win back the mouse-and-keyboard crowd.

Yes, it’s true: With Windows 10 (there will be no Windows 9), released this past summer, Microsoft makes it simple once again to navigate the operating system with a keyboard and mouse.

Moreover, it brought back other features, like the start menu, that made Windows such a hit in previous incarnations.

“It’s a practical approach, which is customer-first,” said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft.

This is good for the lube business.

“The fact that Windows 10 behaves more like a traditional windows desktop should help users feel more comfortable with the operating system,” said Craig Harris, president of Auto Data, Inc, a fast lube POS provider.

Another major bonus with Windows 10 is many software packages created prior to its arrival, including those for the fast lube industry, seem to run smoothly on Windows 10 with little or no tweaking needed.

“Our software works well with Windows 10, and we currently have several customers already running it with our software in their shops,” Harris said. “The only issues we have seen were an occasional driver issue for some peripherals. Windows 10 appears to be very compatible with most previously released software in general. Because of this, our users see no difference running our software under Windows 10 versus previous Windows releases.”

Darren Floyd, a sales consultant at eGenuity a company that also specializes in point-of-sale software for the oil and lube industry, also indicated eGenuity has only needed to make some very minor tweaks to ensure its software is compatible with Windows 10.

“We have made a few a changes in regard to drivers and gestures,” Floyd said.

Officially unveiled with great fanfare by Microsoft in January, Windows 10 seems to be a naked apology to millions of PC users, who were relegated to after-thought status when Microsoft rolled out Windows 8 a few years ago. Back then, Microsoft bet big it could abandon traditional Windows computing. It’s plan? Strong-arm Windows users into adapting to a completely reconfigured user interface driven by touch-screen controls. Users rejected Windows 8 in droves. The company responded with a completely reconfigured operating system that brings back many of the cherished features of earlier versions, while incorporating some tasty new additions.

Features of Windows 10

• Hooray! The Windows start menu is back.

Apparently arising from the philosophy, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the Windows start menu has returned to the left side of the PC screen. Once again, you can call up an ordered list of programs on your desktop that you can click on and open instantly.

Sure, three-quarters of your desktop on the right side of the PC screen still offers the touch-screen tile access to your programs that Microsoft so desperately wanted everyone to embrace with Windows 8. But users can simply ignore those or slowly integrate those tiles into your work-style at your leisure.

• Your PC boots straight to the desktop.

Perhaps most infuriating about Windows 8 was Microsoft’s insistence your PC boot directly to a touch-screen tile interface that, initially, no one understood. Essentially with Windows 8, you turned on your PC, watched your PC glow to life in a completely unrecognizable environment —thrust into a bewildered journey of total confusion.

No longer with Windows 10. Once again, your PC now starts with the familiar desktop interface made popular in pervious versions of the operating system.

• Your tablet auto-senses your preference for traditional or touch-screen controls.

With Windows 10, your tablet will be auto-programmed to sense when a keyboard is plugged into your tablet and automatically switch to desktop mode — the mode that’s optimized for use with a keyboard-and-mouse. If you disconnect your keyboard, Windows 10 will politely ask if you’d like to switch to touch-screen control.

“For someone who’s a mobile task-worker, it works like a tablet while you’re out and about, and then it works exactly like a PC when you bring it back and dock it,” said Joe Belfiore, vice president, operating systems group, Microsoft.

• Many users will get to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.

In an extremely shrewd move, Microsoft is offering the new operating system as a free upgrade for the first year — for the most part — for users of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, with two exceptions: Windows Enterprise users of 7 and 8.1 will still have to pay to upgrade to Windows 10.

“One of the strongest selling points for upgrading to Windows 10 is it is free for Windows 7 and 8 users if completed by July 29th of 2016,” Harris said. “If you or your employees are struggling with the Windows 8 user interface, then you may be more apt to take advantage of the free upgrade sooner than later.

“That being said, Windows 10 is still very new, and patches and improvements are inevitable,” Harris added. “So you may want to wait for an even smoother upgrade experience in 2016. If you are running on Windows XP or older, I would recommend upgrading not just your operating system but your PC as well.”

The reason?

“Microsoft support for Windows XP ended a year and a half ago, which means it is more susceptible to viruses and malware,” Harris said. “If your shop is still running XP, it probably means your computer is roughly 10 years old roughly, which also means it’s a bit under-powered by today’s standards.”

Bob Sampson, president of Sage Microsystems, another maker of point-of-sale software for the oil and lube industry, agreed.

“If your computer is currently running a version of Windows older than Windows 7, you should ask your current hardware vendor if the computer can support the running of Windows 10 before trying to use that older machine with Windows 10,” Sampson said.

What’s New?

Besides bringing back most of the features that made earlier incarnations of Windows so popular, Microsoft is also sprinkling in some cool new additions that could make Windows 10 an even bigger hit.

Windows 10, for example, comes with a search-engine-powered, new voice assistant, Cortana. Already available on Windows phone, Cortana will sit atop the Windows 10 interface and answer your queries with the help of the Bing! search engine.

You can ask Cortana — using natural language or your keyboard— what the weather will be like tomorrow, where that elusive document file you lost is stored, how many days it is to your next vacation and similar queries.

Like many things computer these days, Cortana is also turbo-charged with advanced analytics. So theoretically, Cortana will get to know you better over time as it chews over questions you’ve already asked and provides you with ever-more accurate answers the more you consult with “her.”

Another cool Cortana feature: You’ll be able to dictate emails or texts to her and have her send those communications to the person(s) of your choice.

Users fed-up with Internet Explorer will appreciate Windows 10 comes equipped with a lean-and-mean browser, Microsoft Edge, which is modeled after leaner browsers like Firefox.

Another major change with the new Windows is it’s being built on the promise that all Microsoft-friendly products will share the same, common Windows 10 operating system: desktops, laptops, tablets, phones and even Xbox.

Again, theoretically, this will make it easier for users to make simultaneous changes that will pop-up on all devices. Update a contact in Outlook, for example, and that contact will be updated on all your Windows 10 devices. Upload your music to the Microsoft cloud service OneDrive, for example, and that music will play on all your Windows devices.

Equally ground-shifting with Windows 10 is Microsoft’s decision to repackage the operating system as a service, as opposed to a static product. Instead of releasing Windows updates every few years, Microsoft plans to continually update Windows with enhancements that will continually auto-download from the Web to your PC.

“Once a device is updated to Windows 10, we will be keeping it current for the supported lifetime of the device,” said Terry Myerson an executive vice president, Operating Systems Group, Microsoft.

Soon, the question, “What version are you running?” will no longer apply to Windows, Myerson said.

One exception: Windows business enterprise users will be able to opt for a go-slow update approach to Windows 10, enabling them to delay quick, across-the-board, automatic updates to Windows.

Instead, these users will be able to opt for automatic updates involving security or other critical changes, and get time to test and evaluate the impact of other updates, according to Jim Alkove, director of program management, Enterprise Group, Microsoft.

Probably the sexiest new addition to Windows will be its built-in ability to play 3D/holographic content created by a new software product Microsoft promises to roll-out later this year, Microsoft HoloStudio. Users who buy HoloStudio software will be able to create 3D/holographic images, which can then be viewed with a new 3D visor Microsoft is also promising to bring to market later this year called Microsoft HoloLens.

It’s an interesting take on 3D/holographic viewing, in that you’ll be able to don a Microsoft visor and take in the image of say a 3D fire-breathing dragon that’s lounging on your living room couch. Essentially, with this approach to 3D/holographic imaging, Microsoft has decided to add 3D/holographic images to the existing world, rather than attempt to create an entirely new 3D/holographic environment.

One caveat about Windows 10: Microsoft has auto-programmed Windows 10 to vacuum up as much of your personal data as possible — and even listen-in on your PC’s microphone. When you’re upgrading to Windows 10, be sure to choose Custom Install, which allows you to opt-out of the data-snooping Microsoft is looking to do.

All told, Microsoft’s move with Windows 10 could in fact reverse the major misstep it made with Windows 8. Indeed, the company is now so ostensibly committed to responding to user feedback, it has created a special Windows Insider Program for Windows users who want a voice. (If that’s you, visit: https://insider.windows.com) Users who join Windows Insider get to test beta versions of Windows 10 before the operating system’s release later this year. And their comments on those beta versions will help shape the final look, feel and functionality of the operating system, according to Myerson. So far, the Insider Program already has 1.7 million sign-ups, he said.

Before you dive in head-first to Windows 10, it pays to make a phone call to ensure business will keep running as usual.

“We recommend before upgrading to Windows 10, our users give our support department a call to identify any potential hardware issues as it relates to any possible driver compatibility issues,” Harris said.

When you’re ready, upgrading to Windows 10 will not only provide you with a pleasurable operating experience, but it will also give your business added security.

“Many companies that manufacture computer operating systems — not just Microsoft — are abandoning their efforts to support and protect their older operating systems making them vulnerable to threats,” Sampson said. “In my opinion, having a strong company like Microsoft and their newest version of Windows 10, with the protection it provides, makes good business sense.”

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Windows 10 is Here

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