What to expect when switching to Windows 10 for the first time
Extended support (including security updates) for PCs running Windows 7 will officially end after January 14, 2020. So, if you’re thinking about buying a new PC, you will probably find yourself using Windows 10 for the first time.
If you’re upgrading or switching to 10 for the first time, below are some of the OS features you will find.
(Microsoft links have been included for more detailed information referenced by Microsoft. Please also see the menus at the foot of the page, including links to other Windows enthusiast sites.)
If you have just recently got Windows 10 and you’re feeling like a beginner in at the deep end, try our Windows 10 tips for beginners, to help with some of the basics.
Windows 10 features
Here are some of the features you will find in this latest OS:
Straight out of the box, you can easily get to know and learn about Windows 10, with the included Tips app. You can browse different Collections to get more information. (You can also use the search features in Windows 10.)
Tips – What’s new
You can click the What’s new video in the Recommended tab of the Tips app, to find out about Windows 10’s latest features since your last update.
New to Windows 10, Windows Hello can recognize your face (or fingerprint) and give you access to your device in an instant. If you’re tired of typing in passwords to unlock your PC (and you have the required hardware), I’m sure you’ll like this feature.
A new Start Menu
New to Windows 10 of course, is the Start Menu. It’s resizable, fully customizable, and comes with live tiles – which update with relevant information, can be turned on or off, and are also resizable.
(This one has been customized.)
Coming soon in Spring 2020, the Start Menu will begin to look cleaner. Microsoft will be moving away from the blue, square background style buttons, and focus more on cleaner app icons.
- Four ways to customize the Start menu (Microsoft blog)
- See what’s on the Start menu (Microsoft Support)
- Start menus for Windows – (this site)
If you’d like to find something on your PC, like an app for example, just hit the Windows key and start typing. Or if you’re looking for something online, you can use the keyboard shortcut for Search, Windows + S.
See also Cortana, below. Windows + S – Search (including Cortana)
Cortana (Personal Assistant)
Another key component new to Windows 10 is Cortana. If you need a personal assistant to help, remind, inform, educate or entertain you – try getting to know Cortana.
Cortana latest from Microsoft (2020)
Microsoft has announced that in the next release of Windows 10 (spring 2020), we should see some changes to how Cortana works, as she evolves into a personal productivity assistant in Microsoft 365.
Microsoft Edge (Web Browser)
Windows 10 comes with the latest Microsoft Edge web browser. Edge has clean looks, fast performance, Immersive Reader view, web page doodling, Cortana assistance, extension support, and it’s also leading the pack at HTML5Accessibility.com. Edge now uses the Chromium engine, which is the same open-source engine used in the Google Chrome browser. So, now you can use thousands of Chrome extensions with Edge, plus some exclusive ones of its own.
- Four ways to get the most out of Microsoft Edge (Microsoft blog)
- Get to know Microsoft Edge (Microsoft Support)
- (Other web browsers for Windows)
Improved Security in Windows 10
Microsoft says that Windows 10 is the most secure Windows operating system ever. And with Windows Security built straight in, you needn’t worry about security. Windows Security also has a new look and UI.
Not completely new, but still improved for Windows 10, you can control your PC without needing a keyboard and mouse, with Windows Voice Recognition, and you can hear speech read aloud with Narrator.
Don’t forget Cortana of course.
The Anniversary Update brought with it more accessibility improvements.
Multiple Desktops (Virtual desktops)
Other operating systems like Ubuntu have been able to do this for years, but finally, Windows 10 now allows us to have multiple virtual desktops – by using Task View.
This means you can have different apps open on different desktops, and then switch from desktop to desktop very easily.
Touch or Pen
When sitting at a desk, I prefer using a keyboard and mouse with my PC. However, Windows 10 was designed to be used with touchscreen devices, too. There are plenty of touchscreen or touchpad gestures to speed up your workflow, and you can also use a tablet pen to write and draw.
With the latest (rebranded) Microsoft Store, we can now enjoy using thousands of free or paid apps. And don’t forget the latest versions of classic Microsoft apps and games, too.
Do you remember Remote Assistance from yesteryear? Quick Assist is Windows 10’s new, easy and safe way to help someone with their computer over the internet. Hit the Windows key and search for Quick Assist.
How to check your Windows version
If you’re not sure whether you have the latest version of Windows, you can do the following to check:
Click the Start button, type winver, and press Enter. You should then see a window like this one:
Check the Windows Version. At the time of updating this page, I had Version 1909.
Now you can visit the Windows 10 update history page to check for the latest release history.
As you can see above, my PC was showing that I had Version 1909 at the time of updating this page. The latest version showing on Microsoft’s update history page was Version 1909.
With the Fall Creators Update came the emoji panel. Now you have easy access to emoji inside of Windows 10. The panel can be accessed via keyboard shortcut or the on-screen Touch keyboard. To find out more about accessing emoji, see our Windows 10 tips – Emoji page.
Windows 10 Insider Program – Use Windows 10 for free.
If you’d like to always know what’s new in Windows 10, plus use Windows 10 for free, you can join the Windows Insider program. As an Insider, you can be among the first to see and try new features, and you can help improve Windows 10 by supplying feedback.
Windows 10 Help
For more information, visit the popular sites and links below.
Like many ‘Windows Insiders’, I’ve been using Windows 10 since the Windows Insider Program started in October 2014.
We’ve watched Windows evolve and improve, as Microsoft listened to the thousands of Insiders – who submitted feedback to help steer the OS to where it is today.
(Don’t forget to backup your important data)
It’s exciting to switch to a better operating system. Most importantly, though, before you upgrade or install any operating system, it’s good practice to back up your important documents and files to a removable storage device – just for safekeeping. This will give you peace of mind, so you don’t lose important files forever – if something goes wrong.
This was an introduction to what you’ll find when using Windows 10 for the first time. Windows 7 is no longer supported. Therefore, many people are making the upgrade. If the new Start Menu is a little bit of a transition for you, Microsoft will be cleaning it up, focusing on having just the icons, without the blue square backgrounds, which I personally never liked!