No, I’m not an East German software judge, but calling it 10 might be a little over zealous.

We have all seen the little Windows icon appear in the lower right corner of our screens lately trying to convince us to “reserve” our free copy of Windows 10. Is it just me or does it seem a just a little desperate to suggest that Microsoft might run out of kilobytes, or somehow not be able to make enough download-able digital copies to satisfy the masses upon its release? I know I know, one of the main marketing tenants is to create a sense of urgency, but come on, it’s just a version of Windows, not a McRib for goodness sake.

Microsoft is trying to distance themselves from Windows 8, who wouldn’t. Win 8 was a quite a mis-step, arguably the most unfavorable iteration of Mr. Gates’ fenestration based operating system since Windows ME, now that’s going back a ways, right past even Vista if that says anything to you. Now this article is not meant to beat up on the already downtrodden Win 8, but to discuss Win 10 is not possible without making reference to it. You see, if it wasn’t for how bad 8 is, I’m pretty sure no one would be anticipating 10 much at all.

I’m calling it an 8.5 because that’s what it is, an improvement to Windows 8.1. I think if Microsoft could have taken a mulligan, they would have deleted Windows 8 and called this new version 8, and then they could have had a 9 then a 10 like a normal software company. But in traditional style they took a cue from Apple and are choosing to make a big kerfuffle about the one called OS X, oops, I mean Windows 10.

As of now I’ve been using 10 it in its pre-release versions for a few months and I do admire that Microsoft has been very open and forthcoming with download-able versions of their new OS as development progressed. It has been a great heads up for computer types like me to know what might be making our phones ring down the road. I even have a laptop dedicated to installing these pre-release versions of 10 as they come out, in fact this article is being written using that laptop running 10, and certainly works good enough for that.

So here’s some meat and potatoes on 10 thus far:

  • That Win 8 startup screen with all the boxes, what I call “box land”, is gone! The computer now boots to the desktop like a normal computer. If you are one of the few who enjoy “box land”, Win 10 lets you use “tablet mode” to bring them back.
  • The start menu is back, kinda sorta. Still not as useful as in Windows  XP or 7, it’s really just “box land” stuffed into a smaller list you can get to from the lower left corner of the screen.
  • iPhone fans might get a kick out of the “Cortana” feature. It’s like “Siri” so it will get asked a few inappropriate questions just for laughs and then turned off.
  • The interface will be similar to that on Windows phones (which no one uses) and on Windows tablets (which no one uses). But who knows, maybe Win 10 will be so well received that iPhones and Androids will be left in little baskets at fire stations all across the country with little notes that read “I just really want a phone that is as awkward to use as my new PC.” Yeah, probably not.
  • They got rid of the confusing “Libraries” folders in Windows Explorer! Let there be much rejoicing! Seriously, those Library things were just awful.
  • The icons you see on the desktop etc. look as if the designers at Microsoft got a little nostalgic to me. They have a very Windows 3.1 aesthetic to them, lacking the smoothed out refinement of Win 7 graphics. I don’t know, kinda makes me worry a little when I see that, like when your favorite band suddenly puts out an album of B sides or “unreleased” tracks, for die hards it’s cool, for everyone else it’s just crummy stuff that doesn’t make any sense.

Should you rush to upgrade?

If you are currently running Windows XP or Vista and really want that new Operating System smell, I’ll say you are probably better off buying a new machine with Windows 10 already on it. Microsoft is not offering it you free if you have one of these older versions of Windows and your hardware probably won’t run it all that great anyway without some tinkering.

If you are currently running Windows 7, I will paraphrase the late Charlton Heston and say you will take away my Windows 7 “From my cold dead hands!” I’m sorry but Win 7 is still the one to beat. It’s stable, familiar, and looks like it will be the last to look and feel like the Windows we have grown accustomed to these past 20 years. I recently read that the percentage of PCs running Windows 7 actually went up during Windows 8’s tenure. That’s funny.

If you are currently running Windows 8 or 8.1, I would say let some other folks run the upgrade to 10 first and let’s see how it goes. There are sure to be some bugs to work out and the only thing worse than running a crummy OS is to have an upgrade go bad and be left with a fancy paperweight on your desk.

Final thoughts…

Without Windows 8 to make 10 seem good, the conversation about 10 would be more like “Why did they make Windows 7 worse?”

You see, at the end of the day Windows 10 to me is a played up attempt to “fix” Windows 8. There’s really not much new here to make it stand out other than it’s not as bad as 8. It’s unfortunate when the thrust of your “innovation” is mostly backpedaling from the version before. Oh well, while Microsoft crawdaddys into the future, I’ll wait to see what they have come up with next year after I hunt down one of those elusive meat-ish sandwiches with a McFlurry chaser.