Tomorrow many people will receive the final bits of what is known as Windows 10. For those already previewing the release, as I am, it appears that a Windows Update process will push whatever bits are required to transform our machines from beta to released software — automagically. With the exception of a reboot, that process should be seamless.
Windows 10 Release Day -1, Open Issues
None really, and that has just happened in the last few hours.
I have to say I’m impressed with the speed with which bits seem to be flying out of Redmond today, and I’m not even sure how they are getting implemented.
My big bug still hanging over Windows 10 this morning was this: sketchy video playback, regardless of the source on an HP Spectre 13. The video was jerky, constantly resetting nanoseconds back before moving forward. Videos spit the audio out in consistent bursts followed by consistent spasms of silence. It was like an organic ratchet of sound. I couldn’t watch a video streaming over Edge from YouTube and the Netflix app also reflected the same issue, as did the Movies and TV app attempting to decode files on the local hard disk.
I reported the issue more than once through the Windows Feedback app over the last few weeks, including this morning, allowing the app to gather data as I reproduced the problem.
I ran all the updates. Loaded the new Apple QuickTime update, but still the issue persisted…until just a few minutes ago. Some residual sound issues remain when stopping a Netflix video or tapping the Youtube stream to skip ahead, but video now works across all apps.
The previous work around, stream via Chrome, which seemed unaffected, and watch the video files using the latest QuickTime update from Apple (7.7.7), still works if your bits haven’t caught up with your version of a similar problem yet.
My only other concern remains is long-term Beats Audio support, which seems to works in the current build. But with the Beats acquisition by Apple after this machine was manufactured, I’m not sure what kind of future support the Beats software can expect. There were beta issues, but Cortana is now listening to me and the speakers sound as good as they did under Windows 8.1
Overview of the Experience So Far
Everything else has been a solid with the latest updates today. I even got brave enough to kill off the recovery partition and merge it with drive C: to increase local storage (though I did create a recovery SD card first). Adobe creative cloud, QuickTime and Dropbox all appear to be working and managing through their own updates. Screen shots captured to Dropbox, however, don’t seem to trigger replication. When I move them to another folder, they synchronize to the Dropbox cloud, but without that action, the screen caps remain local.
And here’s what I think of the new apps.
Of course, there are dozens of changes between Windows 7 and 8 and 10. Here are my current impressions on the ones I hold top of mind.
Cortana is listening to me after training “her” to recognize my voice using the quick six phrase training set (it used to take hours to train older versions of Microsoft’s speech recognition technology.) Until I conducted this training I thought I had a microphone problem, but Cortana, it turns out, didn’t know what to make of my “Hey, Cortana.” I’ll analyze Cortana in a separate post, but so far, like its cousin Siri, Cortana is very constrained, and constrained in strange ways. I really want to be able to control my PC by voice, which I find more useful than the search features. Yes, Cortana can open an app, but it can’t mute the volume or switch apps. Even asking for directions brings up a search rather than directions.
The Microsoft Edge browser is snappy. It feels and looks a lot like Chrome. It will be interesting to see how the browser wars play out given this new salvo from Microsoft. IE is still around though, if you have one of those corporate systems tied to Active-X or some other Microsoft proprietary component.
The Start Menu must have been thought about in this way when Windows 8 was being conceived, because it is just the kind of start-menu a modern Windows machine should have. I’m glad it has found its way to Windows 10. I like the active tiles and their groups. People will need to be judicious in their use of the tiles or the start menu could get out of control. It’s not perfect. The long scroll to see all of the apps, and the lack of differentiation between those that are tileable, versus traditional, may confuse some, but it certaintly works more elegantly than anything in Windows 8, or even Windows 7 for that matter.
Photos introduces another choice for people like me, with many services in Play. I’m an Office 365 customer so I have a terabyte of data with my subscription, plenty for storage my photos. Currently, however, my curated photos are on Google drive, and they are backed up from my iOS devices on Apple and Amazon. I have photos everywhere and no where which is a problem that is just waiting to suck a bunch of my time to craft a solution.
Task View I was never a big Alt-Tab user, but I like the new task switcher in the task bar that shrinks everything down and shows me what’s actually running. Task View is also the starting point for employing Virtual Desktops, which come over as inspiration from Apple. If you need to segment work, perhaps keeping a paused movie in an entertainment space while switching to an environment that is all about Excel and Outlook, you can now do that. Also useful for switching between clients or projects.
The Action Center is nice as a place to show what’s going on, something Android and iOS users have had for a long while now, and Apple OS X users now have as well. Like all of these action centers though, they are more about notification than action. Windows 10, for instance, informed me that Chrome would be running in the background. Perhaps it should let me tell it to stop, rather than pointing me to where those setting are managed. Let the Action Center be a place of action.
Windows 10 Release Day -1 – Inconsistencies, but overall Impressed
Inconsistencies exist, however, in places like Settings and the Control Panel which duplicate features under vastly different UIs. I get that Windows 10 is going to have some transition features that will make it easier to entice the Windows 7 users that never leapt at Windows 8, but if you are going to do a flat design across the system, at least make the Control Panel look like it’s part of the overall design.
I have, however, been impressed by the rapid release of software from a company that once went out of its way to accumulate fixes into big batches, and releases into orchestrated events. Sure, Windows 10 launch will be orchestrated and the advertisements have already begun, but the battle was won or lost already with those who jumped into the preview and started learning and providing feedback. This wasn’t like any previous beta at Microsoft, and that is a very good thing. Not only is Cortana listening, but it appears Microsoft is as well.
And while I was testing Windows 10, I was also running Office 2016 through the Office 365 preview, and it is equally impressive in its ability to run pretty bug free, and to receive regular updates that make it run even smoother. I wrote this post in Word on Windows 10 and everything, from the fluid typing experience to the synchronization with OneDrive worked just fine.
If your PC is offering you Windows 10 on Windows 8, then I would recommending accepting the offer as soon as possible. Windows 7 users may choose to wait, but I’m not sure they really need to. I used to be a “wait for the first service pack guy” but that attitude should now be engineered out of IT as Microsoft finishes up the industry’s migration to updates at the speed of solutions, and improvements at the pace of learning.
And for those reading this on July 29: Happy Windows 10 launch day!
Daniel W. Rasmus
Daniel W. Rasmus, Founder and Principal Analyst of Serious Insights, is an internationally recognized speaker on the future of work and education. He is the author of several books, including Listening to the Future and Management by Design.