Windows 7 vs Windows 10 was a drastic change for some. Windows 10 as an OS was introduced in July 2015, and most of the old systems have migrated to this OS by now. This got accelerated when Windows 7 support went into end-of-life in January 2020 and there would be no more Windows updates for older versions of Windows or mainstream support from Microsoft. Windows 7 had a loyal fan following, especially since many apps did not have backward compatibility with Windows 10 in the initial stages. To run Windows 10, though certified to work with 1 GB RAM for 32 bit and 2 GB RAM for 64 bit, it struggles with a Windows 7 computer that was being used all along.
The upgrade to Windows 10 operating system comes with a host of security features that ensures no malware can harm your system, integrates with modern cloud applications, provide a seamless UI experience across devices (Microsoft Accounts used to link your profile), a cool new web browser with Microsoft Edge, a feature-rich Windows start menu and access to apps from Microsoft Store for productivity tools. Besides, Microsoft seems to have done many low-level tweaks to make sure that Windows 10 boots faster, uses less disk space, and secures against hackers.
These new features are for long-term Windows users who should embrace the evolving Windows experience, rather than continue to use their Windows 10 PCs in the old way i.e. the Windows 7 way.
Features in Windows 10
- Your Phone app: You can link your phone to PC using this feature. Some of the common activities you would do on your phone, like make/receive phone calls, view/reply text messages, and manage notifications, can be done straight from your PC. Another useful option is drag/drop files, photos, music from the phone to the PC, and vice versa. You don’t need to email files to yourself to accomplish this. Your phone can be connected to your PC with a simple USB head and doesn’t need special hardware. See here for the software & hardware requirements to get this app.
- Cortana: This is a personal productivity tool capable of taking your voice commands (no keyboard inputs required). You can access your calendar meetings, set up reminders, alarms, join meetings in Teams, open files or apps on your PC. You can also find all answers to information available from the Bing Search engine, i.e., news, sports, weather, traffic, flight information, restaurant. What makes this feature particularly exciting is it’s Natural Language processing abilities to take voice commands like “Remind me to call Paul at 6 pm today”. See this article on how to activate and start using Cortana.
- Windows Hello: This is a secure, personal way to access your Windows 10 PC or device using biometric options like a fingerprint, iris, or facial recognition. PCs with in-built fingerprint readers or compatible devices already use this as a safer, quicker way to sign-in. With remembering passwords across multiple websites, platforms becoming quite a chore, this comes as a great way to sign-in to your PC without remembering passwords. Another exciting feature is Dynamic Locking. A device will let Windows 10 know that the PC needs to be locked when you are away from it. You need to have paired the mobile device/tablet with Windows as part of the setting. Your unsaved work is automatically saved while signing out. See this article on Microsoft Support to setup and manage your Windows Hello experience.
- Data Privacy: Windows 7 users were always assured that Microsoft or third-party applications were not collecting their individual data for purposes of “improvement” or security updates. That’s changed with Windows 10, and Microsoft collects diagnostic data from your PC or through Cortana by default. This change in Windows 10 is a big shift in Microsoft’s data collection approach, making it similar to other tech companies. On your PC, change the setting to “Required diagnostic data” on the screen below if you are paranoid about data privacy.
- Windows Search: As you continue to use your PC over time, you accumulate a bunch of software apps, tools, files that become cumbersome to find whenever you want to look for them. The switch to Windows 10 gets you a very evolved Search feature integrated with the OS and does a great job of tracking down specific objects from the Windows menu or File Explorer. You can use this Search tool to run Internet searches as well without opening the browser. You can speed up searching a certain object by specifying the category like App, Document, Email, Web. You can also personalize the experience by hiding the Search box and only show the Search Icon (just as I like it!).
Windows 7 vs Windows 10 in conclusion
Even though Microsoft came up with so many new Windows 10 features, it has only helped make the user experience modern, seamless across devices, better integrated to Cloud tools, and exciting productivity tools that leverage new-age technologies. The Windows 10 features listed here are just a flavor of the long list of new features. They will form the basis of being a productive and successful technology professional. I have prioritized five of them based on my experience moving from Windows 7, which was already on extended support, and sharing how to leverage the new features effectively.
Which Windows 10 feature did you find exciting?