What does Windows 10 Hold for Digital Marketers?

It’s been nearly three weeks since the new Windows 10 update launched, and after months of speculation and anticipation, we’re finally starting to see initial feedback.

Since the launch date at the end of July 2015, over 50 million people have upgraded to Windows 10. According to Techradar.com, Windows 10 now owns almost 5% of the total operating system market.

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While Microsoft has released specific stats about the number of Windows 10 Home downloads versus Windows 10 Pro, it’s likely that a disproportionate number of these downloads are individuals or for personal use, as business owners historically take longer to adopt new systems.

We have, however, already seen initial feedback that may help you decide whether Windows 10 is the right for your business.

Let’s take a look at what’s useful about Windows 10 for businesses, why the Pro package is particularly important, and what users are sharing about the experience so far.

Transitioning to Windows 10 from Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 / 8.1

According to Microsoft, the ambition for Windows 10 is to combine the best elements of Windows 7 and Windows 8 (8.1) into one new software update that will live on as an evolving “service”. They use the term “service” because Microsoft plans to continually upgrade and improve Windows 10, rather than replacing it with new version in the next few years. This is thought to offer a more seamless Windows experience for users.

Windows 8 (8.1) Users

For many, the upgrade to Windows 8 (8.1) was hardly seamless, and there seemed to be a steep learning curve. Those who have upgraded from Windows 8 (or are thinking about doing so) still enjoy the tablet-and-touch-friendly interface that is the signature of Windows 8, but with a more intuitive user experience, and a much more friendly start screen.

One of the major complaints with Windows 8 (8.1) was the start screen, which felt foreign and unwieldy without a Start Menu. Windows 10 still offers the ‘metro style’ tiling, but has added back in the Start Menu.

Because Windows 10 offers the compatibility features of Windows 8 (8.1) as well as some of the features users missed from Windows 7 and earlier, the transition should be fairly seamless.

Windows 7 Users

Windows 7 users can now safely upgrade to enjoy inter-device compatibility without the frustrating start screen, strange ‘charms” feature and generally glitchiness that many Windows 8 users suffered.  While it will have a learning curve, it’s a far more intuitive transition than the Windows 8 updates.

Overall, both updates should be fairly straightforward—Windows 7 users were just saved the headache of the Windows 8 (8.1) experience.

Windows 10 Update – The Highlights

The updates in Windows 10 focus on creating a more intuitive, seamless, and customized user experience. Here are a few key updates that help accomplish this.

Home screen interface. Start Menu from Windows 7 is back, but still includes Windows 8.1 ‘metro’ style tiles, now with more flexible tile options that are ‘snappable’. Unlike Windows 8 (8.1), this isn’t an entirely new interface – something most users found cumbersome and frustrating at best.

The home screen is customized, pinning the items you use most frequently on the desktop itself, with other frequently used items saved in Taskbar.

Where Windows 8 was painful to navigate on a desktop or laptop, Windows 10 offers an “action center” that features app alerts for quick access to updates and communications.

Seamless device transitions. Much like iOS systems, the new Windows 10 was created to offer users a single operating system that can easily power all devices, allowing users to move seamlessly from phone to laptop to tablet functions without the need to reboot or otherwise interrupt open files. This is thanks to “Continuum”, a single app that works across multiple platforms, which can sense interaction queues, such as whether the user is typing on a keyboard, touchscreen or mouse. Continuum then adjusts the setting and functionalities (desktop or tablet) accordingly.

Microsoft Edge browser. Built to be an integrated part of the Windows 10 operating system, the Microsoft Edge browser will replace Internet Explorer as the default browser on new Windows products.

However, Internet Explorer is still available to those who rely on it to work on and operate legacy websites, and some users are opting to stick with Internet Explorer usage until Microsoft Edge has been built out a bit more.

Microsoft Edge will also be the default browser for Windows 10 smartphones and tablet devices as part of the new “Windows Service”.  This browser is exclusive to Windows 10 and not available on earlier versions of Windows.

This said, it offers a clean, appealing rendering and a setup that is geared towards newer websites. It also doesn’t appear to devour memory the way that Google Chrome does.

Virtual Desktop. Similar to OS X’s Exposé feature, Windows 10’s “Taskview” gives a snapshot of all open tabs at a glance using the shorthand Win + Tab.  This can be used in conjunction with “Snap”, an existing feature that allows you to “snap” an open file or tab into one half of the screen with a quick snapshot of everything you have running at that time in the remaining part of your screen.

Thanks to virtual desktops, you can now have several separate desktops running at once – this could mean running a client website, analytics platform, and copy docs on one desktop while running daily management, time tracking, and financial software on another.

Regardless of how you choose to use it, this technology allows hyper-organization to easily keep track of many moving parts.Tasker

Link-Sharing for simplified web research. Curating and organizing web research information is easier than ever with a new “Link Sharing” feature, which is integrated with Windows Notepad for seamless note-taking.

Microsoft Holographic. This new feature includes 3D imaging and hologram projection along with HoloLens goggles that allow you to interact with remote clients or coworkers.

Cortana Integration. The intelligent personal assistant that debuted with the Windows Phone 8.1, is now powered using Bing Search and offering context-aware browsing. Using her “Notebook” Cortana will keep track of your schedule, track your preferences (down to whether you prefer to take the taxi or the subway and whether you like Thai or Chinese food).  Much like mobile devices, you can also summon her by voice and request a search without touching your computer.

Most reviewers claim this is used more to impress clients and family members than for any practical purpose, but it still enhances the move towards a more seamless experience with less clicks and less work for the user.

Direct X12. This offers a significant increase in the performance of graphics. While that move was probably geared towards gamers, it’s also advantageous for those of us working with digital animation, design, and video production or editing.

Minimalist, touch-based Office apps. For those who use Word, Excel and PowerPoint for their daily business functions, this is a huge plus. The interface is clean and approachable, offering a stripped down version that many claim is easier to use and friendly on the eyes.

Screen recording. This feature is easy to use and ideal for recording tutorials or referencing a project for clients or employees.

Free upgrade for legitimate versions of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users for the first year.  Windows Pro is also free to those who already have a Pro version of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1.  The offer is valid for one year after release.

What added features does Windows 10 Pro offer?

Microsoft has an understandable interest in gaining enterprise adopters. They claim to have been working closely with business owners since late 2014 to understand the needs of IT and marketers, and have used these insights to shape the offerings in the Pro Package.

The result is an update that focuses on security, compatibility and interoperability.

Many of the benefits we’re seeing here are useful for all business owners, but especially for digital marketers who are working in IT, running multiple programs at once, and interacting with multiple clients’ sensitive information at once.

New / Upgraded Privacy & Security Features

Microsoft still offers Bitlocker for encryption, but it’s new iteration is no longer a one size fits all. End users can now choose to encrypt individual files and work with encrypted and non-encrypted files side by side, as well as share them with counterparts as needed.

Device Guard allows you to lock down devices so that they only run applications from trusted, in some cases preselected developers. With the use of tablets, phones, and hybrid products like the Surface Pro that are highly portable, this becomes even more critical for safe business functions.

Windows Update for Business. Specifically designed for IT Professionals to keep all Windows devices up to date with the latest security defenses and Windows features.

Retained Privacy & Security Features

Domain Join allows users to “join” a work domain by establishing a secure remote connection to a work domain using enterprise credentials – a great feature for those who work from multiple locations, from home, or who have remote employees. It can also be used to allow clients access without needing to come to the office.

Group Policy Management is “a scriptable Microsoft Management Console (MMC) snap-in” offering one simple administrative tool that can manage an entire group policy. Easily define user and computer configurations by group or department.

Assigned Access 8.1 continues from Windows 8.1, allowing users to set up a PC as a single Kiosk with a single function. This could work any many contexts- from demonstrations to a client presentation.

Remote Desktop allows you to connect a remote PC from almost anywhere – again, ideal for remote employees, homework, or easy accessibility during travel.

Client Hyper-V was designed with software developers and IT professionals in mind, allowing you to work across multiple platforms, clients, and servers, and managed virtualized clients and servers seamlessly.

Privacy Concerns since the launch of Windows 10

Most of the privacy & security concerns coming out have more to do with legal jargon  hiding away in the license agreement than they do with third party intrusions.

Some concerns include the forced automatic Windows 10 updates and default settings that auto send information to Microsoft.  Microsoft has also already updated their agreement to include the arbitrary monitoring and exclusion of “unauthorized hardware peripheral devices” and certain “services.” Many say this is targeted towards counterfeit or illegal gaming, though the agreement statement is generic enough that it could theoretically be applied to a much wider range of products at the discretion of Microsoft and without your knowledge.  The idea of Microsoft scanning your PC at will is unsettling, especially for professionals who may have client-sensitive data.

Even more concerning is that it appears that even if you do disable features like Cortana, your information may still be sent to Microsoft servers.  And much like concerns with Google Now, the convenience of Cortana comes at the expense of software continually combing your email, correspondences, searches, and other activities that reveal your preferences and habits.

Compatibility & Convenience

Windows 10 Business Store is an enterprise-specific app store made to support business payments and advanced browsing options geared towards IT departments and other key decision-makers.

Azure Active Directory was also created with IT Admins in mind, giving employees and business partners a single sign-on to cloud hosted apps like Office365, Dropbox, Concur, and much more.

So will upgrading to Windows 10 Pro help you run your business?

For all customers, Windows 10 update offers smoother, higher performance operations, faster speed and processing, and a more customized experience. They’ve cut down on clicks, simplified navigation, and made Cortana an easy avenue for search both on and offline.

For business owners and digital marketers, there are many advantages as well, which seem to work as well in practice as in theory.

Nearly seamless compatibility and configurations and more security (along with many of the Pro benefits that existed in previous version of Windows), as well as features like ease of remote access, domain linking and a new browser, all help to make business functions more efficient, reliable, and flexible, without compromising the security of client information.

For the most part, it seems to ring true to the goal of bringing users best of both worlds.  Reviewers indicate that because it is brand new, the system can be a bit glitch-y in minor ways. If you rely on using regular software functions every day to run your business, it might be best to wait until Microsoft has had a chance to incorporate some of the initial feedback they’re receiving.

Remember, you have a full year to redeem your free update, and know that even in the event that you don’t prefer it, rollback will remain an option.

Did you update to Windows 10? If so, tell us if and how it’s helped your business, or share any glitches or hiccups you’ve encountered along the way.

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