Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Windows 10 Upgrade - did I miss something?

I'd read online about being able to install the latest Windows 10 upgrade as either a "proper upgrade" to Windows 8.1 or being able to install it on a new partition, as a fresh install.

As I clicked around this morning, looking for the "fresh install" option, I set the wheels in motion and suddenly found myself facing a black screen with the dreaded "do not turn off your PC" message - Windows was upgrading, whether I liked it or not!

It was a scary couple of hours (it really does take that long) despite Microsoft reassuring me that everything was ok, and I should "sit back and relax".

And when it was finished, it took a scary-long time before the entirely black screen flashed into life with the new Windows 10 logo

A few more reboots, and a few heart-in-mouth moments, while the screen remained absolutely black with no sign of activity for 5-10 minutes at a time, and eventually, Windows 10 was installed.

And the difference?

Well, none really. The task bar looks a little bit shit. It's now black. And semi-transparent. Like the colour scheme Google tried out for their G+ homepage about four years ago and gave up on. And the long-awaited return of the start menu is nothing to write home about - it's like the metro screen, but small, and squashed up into about a quarter of the screen estate.

Even if you make the start menu full screen - to make it more like the Windows 8.1 metro screen (which I've actually go to quite like in recent months) - it just doesn't quite "feel right".

I had to spend ages re-arranging my icons back into the groups I had them on my metro screen (the upgrade had them jumbled about all over the place). And now they scroll vertically instead of horizontally. What an amazing improvement on the Metro screen.... big deal.

Other than a black task bar, and a not-even-as-good-as-Windows-8.1 style metro screen, nothing else looks that much different.

Of course, it performs differently.
As in, it's slow.
Painfully slow.

The amazing new web browser, Edge, has "draw on webpages" as a big selling point. But when you do, it simply creates a bitmap screen grab, super-imposes your text/scribbles as a transparent bitmap, and saves a local copy to your hard drive. The screen grabs are even saved as nasty 80% jpegs, complete with weird-coloured artifacts around text, making it nasty to read back.

After being impressed, comparing IE11 to (the hateful) Google Chrome, I was really looking forward to the new web browser from MS. It's not terrible. It's just not as good as I'd hoped. The extra functionality feels like it would have been cutting edge in the first release of Windows 98, and everything just feels a bit slow and sluggish.

Windows 10 isn't the revolutionary new OS their TV adverts suggest. It's not even an improvement on Windows 8.1. Just as Windows 3.11 was a slight improvement on Windows 3.1, back in the day, I think I'd have referred to this latest "upgrade" as an "update" and called it Windows 8.11

Maybe after some prolonged use, the improvements to the OS will become obvious. But right now, I just don't see them. If you're happy with Windows 7, stick with it. If you hate Windows 8 (as a lot of people did) then this upgrade isn't the magic bullet to make everything cool again. It just makes your PC feel a bit unfamiliar for a while, as you learn where they've tucked away all the settings and apps you normally use, this time!