Microsoft is busy shocking users this week with announcements related to its Windows 10 operating system. Launching this summer, Windows 10 is expected to be something rare, that one operating system that just may satisfy every person who didn’t feel Windows 7 was modern enough and didn’t like the touch-centric changes Microsoft made with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1.
Of course, if you’re one of the people who didn’t like Windows 8 or are satisfied with what you have, you likely don’t care that Windows 10 is on the way. That’s too bad because you should absolutely plan on upgrading to Windows 10 when it arrives on store shelves later this summer.
The Desktop Remixed
Windows 8.1 was all about balancing the needs of future touch-screen users with how people use their desktops and notebooks today. Microsoft’s decision to build a wholesale replacement for the Desktop and slowly add more features wasn’t a bad idea. What was wrong was its implementation and specific changes. The company took a step back from the Start Screen in Windows 8.1 and made it so that users could go straight to the Desktop if they wanted to. Additionally, it added tweaks so that using Windows 8.1’s Start Screen wasn’t such a big headache.
Windows 10 doesn’t ditch the Start Screen entirely. Instead, it lets you rebuild the Start Screen into a Start Menu. By default, the Start Screen can be miniaturized into a small rectangle that pops up whenever users click on the Start button. Users can quickly access settings from there plus pin Windows Store apps with Live Tiles there if they choose to. That last bit is important because Windows Store apps now behave like older programs. They can run in the Desktop and can be snapped to the side of your screen.
Read: What is Windows 10?
Serious desktop power users will notice lots of little add-ons. Snapping apps to the sides of your screen to multitask now gets you suggestions on other apps to snap. Search and Windows Phone’s Cortana personal assistant are both available in the Taskbar. If you’re a Desktop lover, there’s not really a reason left to not make the upgrade.
It’ll Save You Storage Space
With every release since Windows Vista, Microsoft has tried to streamline its operating system and get it running better on devices that exist already. Windows 8’s hardware requirements were a little less than Windows 7. Windows 7’s hardware requirements were a little more reasonable than Windows Vista.
This week Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 will require less storage than Windows 8 did. Microsoft says it was able to do this by coming up with a new way for users to back up their PCs. This means that device makers won’t need to put entire restore images on user’s PCs. The company also says that new compression technology will help it keep the size of Windows down. Whether users get these individual upgrades depends on whether their PC supports it.
By making the Windows 10 upgrade you’ll end up with a PC that has more free storage for you to keep what you care about. Even if your PC doesn’t support the new storage upgrades, Microsoft is adding app installation for external media. You’ll at least be able to keep big games and apps downloaded from the Windows Store on a flash card.
It’s Free Even If You Stole the Last Version
For years, Microsoft has gotten away with charging users upwards of $100 for a Windows upgrade. Mostly, it’s been able to do so because hardly anyone buys Windows upgrades. Instead, most people simply upgrade their PC and Windows along with it. We already knew Windows 10 would mark a fundamental change in the way Microsoft treats Windows customers. It’s no longer satisfied with one-time upgrades, it’s hoping that making Windows free to upgrade to will help keep folks using its services and hardware.
With upgrade prices high, lots of hardcore Windows users maintaining their own PC simply steal Windows from torrent websites. This week Microsoft shocked absolutely everyone when it revealed that it would also make Windows 10 a free upgrade for anyone who is running a pirated copy of Windows too. There aren’t any excuses left to not have the operating system and using Microsoft’s services. What’s more, Windows 10 includes Xbox Live integration for gamers, which is exactly the market this free Windows 10 upgrade is meant to appeal to.
All told, Windows 10 is quickly becoming the most obvious operating system upgrade Microsoft has ever pulled off. Between the new features, non-existent price point, visual upgrades and new devices it’s almost guaranteed to be the thing people are talking about most this summer as they pick out new PCs or consider upgrading before heading back to school. It’s also sure to be the one software upgrade for older PCs everyone is talking about.