Windows 10 is here. It’s free. It’s been downloaded a ridiculous number of times already.But should your law firm take the plunge yet?
Short answer: no. Not yet.
A couple of weeks ago, my office PC’s hard drive bit the dust in the wake of a city-wide blackout that happened, of course, while Windows 7 was updating. Instead of lamenting the loss, I took it as an opportunity: I had the perfect excuse to use my free upgrade to Windows 10.
It was love at first sight. And a week into the experience, I can honestly say that this version of Microsoft’s OS will likely be as popular and universally loved as Windows 7 or XP were. But don’t commit to a law firm upgrade just yet — wait a few weeks for Microsoft to iron out the kinks.
Because downtime, for a law firm, means lost billable hours.
Impressions of a Windows 8.x Hater
There were a lot of things wrong with Windows 8: the fuchsia colors, the loss of the Start Menu, the touch-based interface forced on keyboard-and-mouse office PCs, the way some programs ran in annoying full screen mode while others jarringly switched back to the classic desktop interface, etc. In fact, the only good thing I can say about Windows 8, at least in terms of computers intended for work rather than play, was that it was quick — flat design, even in neon hues, takes less computing power than Windows 7’s glassy design scheme.
How does 10 compare? Bold colors that don’t burn your retina. Trendy flat design. And most importantly: a dynamic Start Menu that is more like Windows 7 when it detects a mouse and keyboard and more like Windows 8 when it detects a touch-based tablet. Windows 10 is exactly what Windows 8 should have been: fast, flexible, and familiar.
It’s Nearly All Awesome
Windows 10 is faster than Windows 7. It’s less aggravating and more intuitive than Windows 8. It borrows elements from mobile operating systems (the notification center and Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri and Google Now) that will boost your productivity.
And it’s free.
If you liked Windows 7, which nearly all PC users people did, you will like Windows 10. And the upgrade process, at least for me, was painless on both the office tower of power (a beast of a PC) and my tiny Windows-based tablet that could charitably be described as “functional.” (The tablet actually ran better after moving from Windows 8.1 to 10.)
But Beware of Bugs
Any new software is going to have a few bugs. But in this age of perpetual beta (how long was Gmail in “beta” again?), where products are released to the wider public with minimal testing and frequent patching, the first version of anything is guaranteed to be a headache.
What’s collapsed on me since I upgraded to Windows 10? Microsoft Word 2011 seems to crash when choosing “paste as plain text.” Windows Live Writer (a blog program) wouldn’t install without some tricky command line tweaks. And those are just Microsoft’s own programs — imagine how little testing has gone into compatibility with third-party lawyer-specific software.
Windows 10 doesn’t just software have software bugs, but also privacy bugs: Big Brother Bill may be watching what users are doing with their systems.
Microsoft launched a hilarious campaign called “Scroogled,” where they criticized Google for scanning users’ email messages and engaging in other arguably invasive practices. You’d think, with such public lambasting of another company’s privacy practices, that Microsoft would be cautious about its own moves.
Should You Upgrade?
Eventually, yes. Windows 10 will be as ubiquitous as Windows XP and 7 were. And because it is a free upgrade for the first year, nearly every PC in the world will be running it within a few years, which means the bulk of Microsoft’s resources will be spent on updating and upgrading Windows 10, rather than the older OSes.
But you’ve got a year to upgrade for free. Let the bugs get worked out for a month or two. Check with your software vendors to see if your favorite programs are compatible with the new operating system. And when you’re finally ready, go ahead and hit that upgrade button — it really is a great operating system.