John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Windows 10 is here

Windows 10 is finally here. I played with the technical previews for Win 10 but found enough issues I couldn’t make it my primary device. July 29th came around (the release date for Win 10) and went and my machine had not downloaded Win 10 yet. You first “reserve your copy” then are supposed to be informed that it has been downloaded and is ready for you. I got impatient and downloaded it myself. You download a media creator tool (you have to get the right version of the media creator tool depending on what you are running it on, a 32 or 64 bit machine, oddly if you download the wrong one you don’t get a nice clear error message so that wasted a bit of my time), then say whether you want to download an ISO or make a USB bootable drive. I downloaded the ISO to start assuming I could then convert the ISO to a USB drive but that failed and would not let me boot to it. So I went ahead and allowed the tool to download the USB image. Once I had the USB image I had two choices, I could use the USB to upgrade my machine in which case the licensing is taken care of. Microsoft are giving away the Win 10 upgrade for now. The second choice is to boot off the USB drive and do a clean install. The clean install can then be used to create a dual boot with your existing Win 8. All you need is a partition large enough to hold win 10. I did this at first expecting windows to pick up the hardware key from Win 8. It didn’t. It asked for a key at install time (which I just said skip) and then kept wanting to activate. I probably should have tried to manually activate but I didn’t so at this point I don’t know if it eventually would have needed a new key or what. I checked my tablet and box and there was no key for Win 8 anywhere so eventually if I didn’t solve this I would to shell out for a Win 8 license. After about a day of looking for show stoppers I was impressed enough to go ahead and give up on dual boot and go ahead and upgrade Win 8. On my second tablet I just went ahead and did the upgrade. On my 32G Asus Vivotab Note 8 which start with 9G free using the USB Win 10 I was able to upgrade it in a little over an hour. After which there was 4G free 😦

Microsoft have been IMHO slow to embrace tablets. Win 8 really was limited in how well it handled tablets, ie touch only devices (no keyboard/mouse). To remedy this issue Microsoft have introduced a new “Tablet Mode”. Tablet mode has been only half assed implemented in my humble opinion. Even on a tablet you find yourself needing to switch out of tablet mode frequently. And while it is quick to go in and out of tablet mode, it isn’t instantaneous (but I would admit to nitpicking on that). Start up any kind of an install of a normal windows application and you find yourself wondering where the install box went to. Well slip out of tablet mode and low and behold there is the install box waiting for you to press next. Microsoft have also been really dumb in that they have not given you a Metro file explorer. I only recently discovered you can pin to start My Computer (or any other drive short cut) allowing you to from a Metro tiled interface to have access to file explorer. Why this isn’t a default setup is beyond me. In tablet mode and using Edge (Microsoft’s new web browser) and low and behold you finally have an on screen keyboard that predicts what your typing. Slide out of tablet mode and levoila the prediction is gone. Maddening. In tablet mode there no longer is a shortcut to the desktop, meaning the only way to get back to the desktop is to turn tablet mode off (yet again).

Microsoft STILL has not included a tile to show the battery life on your device. You can see a small battery guage down in the tray but that is so small as to be virtually useless.

If you have a desktop, or a convertible with the keyboard attached you won’t be spending a whole lot of time in tablet mode. It just isn’t useful. And the on screen keyboard still pops up when a physical keyboard (or bluetooth keyboard) is attached. Fortunately it goes away quickly once you start typing.

The Metro interface is still full screen and prominent in tablet mode, but sufficiently depreciated in desktop mode. The interface is a little different now in that the apps are listed up and down instead of side to side.

In desktop mode low and behold there is the old start menu. And the Metro apps and tiles now show up on the start menu just like any other app. The gestures we learned in Win 8 from either side of the screen now do different things, so time to learn again and only work in tablet mode. And the start menu is rather small and not finger friendly (and I have small fingers) in tablet mode.

There now is a back button similar to Android and it works nicely.

The one thing that is most irritating with Win 10 is how differently it behave in Tablet mode from desktop mode. You get use to one and have to remember which mode you are in to remember which way to do something.

Some of the menu selection items in desktop mode have been nicely increased in size to make them more finger friendly, a good start.

After the install was complete I had to uninstall a bunch of apps Microsoft decided I needed. Bloatware. This is irritating …

The new Calendar, People and mail apps now fully support Google. Yay!

I had almost no issues with the new Edge browser Microsoft has included. I had a problem with cellartracker which worked perfect in Internet explorer on Win 8 but did not see the Dymo label printer plug in. Fortunately Internet explorer is actually still in Windows 10, although it is hidden. From within edge you can select settings and open with Internet explorer. Not sure why Microsoft have hidden internet explorer. I do find edge noticeably slower than chrome.

All in all most of the compatibility issues I encountered on the preview are gone. Older Metro apps for the most part work fine. I had issues with a few (Amazon Kindle and 7 Little words) not properly adjusting to full screen in tablet mode. Taking it out of tablet mode seemed to resolve the issue.

Win 10 is a good step forward. Microsoft still have a ton of work to do before a Windows tablet is less clumsy, but I have to say, all in all this is a good start. If you haven’t upgraded yet, I’m not sure I see a reason not to. But if I were you I would make sure I have created a USB recovery key so at least you can get back to Win 8 if you need to.

Update (8/19/2015): On my Asus VivoTab Note 8 Windows 10 has been a disaster. The pen stopped working, required numerous reboots to get working, OneNote 2013 wouldn’t let me bring up the on screen keyboard when in full screen mode, numerous crashes etc. And to top it off it seems Microsoft didn’t think about palm detection and the task bar kept getting selected when I started to write. So back to Win 8 I went. It was a painless downgrade. Microsoft did (smartly) ask question as to why I was going back.

My Asus Transformer T100 however is working quite well on Win 10.

August 16, 2015 - Posted by | Windows tablets

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