Windows 10: 101

Windows 10, the latest operating system offered by Microsoft, is now available as a free download and upgrade for anyone with Windows 7 or Windows 8.

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Many reviewers are finding this new operating system is a major improvement over previous versions, most especially Windows 8. While I can attest that Windows 8 (more specifically, Windows 8.1) did get a lot of things right and improved many technician-related processes, the radical visual changes were simply too much too fast for most Windows users. The simple fact that the “Shut Down” option was hidden in a new location was enough to put a nail in the coffin of Windows 8.

The Windows 10 Start Menu is one of the highly-promoted parts of the new operating system, and in the words of CNet reviewer Nate Ralph, “The Start menu is back; it’s almost funny how relieving that is.” It does look like it takes the best parts of both the Windows 7 and Windows 8 worlds. The touch-screen functions are still available and there are nice large customizable tiles inside the new Start Menu itself, along with the normal-looking All Apps list. Also inside the Start is a simple Power icon (the I/O symbol) next to the user’s name, giving the computer user access to Shut Down and Restart in a place that is normal.

Something that many Windows users and computer users in general don’t think about often enough are privacy issues, and this is one of the major flaws in Windows 10. There are 45 pages of terms and conditions with this new operating system. Like many other commentators, I would tend to agree that this is a bit excessive when it comes to legal stuff. Chillingly, included in this legal stuff are clauses stating that Microsoft COULD collect and distribute much of your personal information as they see fit.

Normally, items like names, contacts, web history, and credit cards are routinely saved on various web services (Amazon and Facebook are examples of websites who have been practicing this for quite a while). Due to this generally safe ad targeting process, if you look at something on, there is a high chance that you may see that same item as an ad in your Facebook sidebar. Comparatively, Microsoft MIGHT be going further, according to Lauren Walker of Newsweek:

Other information Microsoft saves includes Bing search queries and conversations with the new digital personal assistant Cortana; contents of private communications such as email; websites and apps visited (including features accessed and length of time used); and contents of private folders.

The “contents of private folders” is what I find the most disturbing. Does that include items that are saved to your computer, like typed documents? Does it also include financial information from spreadsheets, data saved in programs like QuickBooks or PDF document tax returns? Well, we don’t exactly know. Maybe, but maybe not. Walker goes on to quote Microsoft from their statement saying that it “does not use what you say in email, chat, video calls or voice mail, or your documents, photos or other personal files to target ads to you.” Even so, the real problem may not be information being used for ads, but that the door might be left open for sensitive private information to possibly be stolen by hackers and thieves.

If you are interested in getting this upgrade, for most Windows 7 and 8 users, there is a small white “Windows” icon located in the Task Bar at the bottom of the screen near the clock. Clicking this icon will guide you through the process of downloading the new operating system and beginning the upgrade process.

If you would like to talk with us before you upgrade, feel free to call us at 419.972.4167.

-Mathew Milbrodt, Woodville Store Manager

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