Been a while since I wrote about technical stuff. Having been involved with the Windows 10 Insider Preview for a long time, and it being less than a week before the huge Windows 10 Anniversary Update, I’d cover some of my favorite features showing up in the next release.

Windows 10 Start Menu Awesomesauce

1 – Start Menu

The iconic start menu that’s been around in multiple forms since Windows 95, is FINALLY getting a refresh that actually makes sense and includes some of the better features from Windows 7 and Windows 8. A fantastic merging of all things cool from all the previous Start menu’s that we’ve come to expect from Windows. Shortcuts to the most used items on the left margin: Power menu, Settings, Windows Explorer, and Profile. Most used applications in the next scroll-able column with Recently added (both can be removed) and the scroll-able all applications list. The final area to the left of the apps column is a smaller version of the larger Windows 8 Modern UI. Fully customizable with anything you want it to show, its very handy for application you use a ton but don’t want to always scroll through an applications listing.

2 – Settings

More settings (formerly in the Control Panel) are now accessible in the Setting menu. With a ton of added functionality and some better sorting that is actually, dare I say it, logical. Most of the common settings we need to access are now in the Settings menu rather than having to dig through to find the Control Panel. As they release further updates to Windows 10, more and more will be ported to the Setting menu eventually making the Control Panel irrelevant.

3 – Booting / Startup

Anyone with Windows 7/8 and a mechanical hard drive (spinning disks) can say they have to wait up to 3 minutes for the computer to become usable without hesitations. Windows 10 on the other hand, puts a lot of the boot process on the back end once the computer is full booted allowing you to get to work faster and not have to wait. You pair Windows 10 with an SSD (solid state drive, aka, not mechanical spinning disks) and you get a 10-15 second boot time and almost immediate usefulness. For those of us that hate to wait (Me) an SSD is a gift from the heavens and I hear violins playing every time I push the power button and have to wait only 9 seconds to get working. Totally awesomesauce near-instant gratification!

4 – Edge browser

I can hear you all right now “Edge, what? Seriously?” Yes, Edge. For all the short-comings and bloatedness of Internet Explorer, Edge has managed to smooth out the rough edges enough to make this browser my daily driver. I find that most of what I add to a browser (password manager, adblocker, secureVPN) are all now available in Edge. It’s a lightweight truly native HTML5 browser that is lean and mean. It has a brutalistically minimalist design that appeals to me on many levels and for movies/videos, it gets out of the way without having to do anything, as in content driven “full screen” mode that is automatically enabled/disabled.

5 – Native Windows 10 Apps

The Microsoft Store has come a long way in the last few months. There are native applications now for all kinds of things like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, etc. Native apps do not require you to open them in a browser and have direct connections to the back-end servers making it a much more pleasant experience. I love how the Facebook app works in Windows 10 and favor it over using my mobile device or the website now. I’m not an app heavy user though, so your own experiences may differ from mine and I’m also running the latest release ahead of the production release on Aug 2nd.

Final thoughts

If you haven’t upgraded to Windows 10 already, ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Why are you waiting?
  2. Who doesn’t like “Free”?
  3. What are you truly afraid of?

If you upgrade to Windows 10, hate it with a passion, you can downgrade back to your previous version within 30 days. At some point in the future though, you’ll be forced to upgrade or face the Internet with an unpatched and vulnerable operating system. Ask anyone who’s still on Windows XP how they’re making out!

July 29th is the last day to upgrade for free! After that, it’ll cost $100 or more to upgrade. The only valid reason I can think of to not upgrade is that your current PC is not compatible. You guys get a pass with that reason as a new PC isn’t a small purchase.