Review: New Windows 10 version still can't beat Windows 7

Microsoft’s 'Fall Update' promised to put the finishing touches on Windows 10 -- it doesn’t

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Microsoft Mail. Finally, the version of Mail in Windows 10 version 1511 actually works. The litany of bugs in the RTM version -- freezes, hangs, mail that can’t be sent, mail that can’t be retrieved -- have been fixed, by and large, and you can use Mail with some confidence. Calendar also works, and People has had a few minor tweaks.

Other apps. Almost all of the other Universal apps have been updated, at least a little bit. Groove Music, Movies & TV, Maps, Photos, MSN News, Money, Weather, and Sports have all been tweaked. The improved Camera app in Windows 10 version 1511 has a slow-motion video capture capability, just like the iPhone.

A glimpse of Enterprise

At last, we’re going to see Enterprise edition features rolled out more or less concurrently with version 1511. There have been a few reported sightings of a test version of the Windows 10 Store for Business, which will allow enterprises to limit Store apps to a pre-approved list and sideload their own apps, but no word on when it will be ready.

As mentioned previously, we’ll likely see announcements for the long-promised, rarely sighted Windows Update for Business and for the Long Term Servicing Branch. So far we’ve seen lots of fancy presentations, but very little in the way of hard products. We’ve also been promised Enterprise Data Protection (a way to separate corporate data from personal data on devices), more BYOD management capabilities, single sign-on, dynamic provisioning (changing a personal device into a corporate device without re-imaging), and much more.

Timing and details are very much up in the air.

Still waiting for Windows 10

Windows 10 RTM held out a world of promise. Win10 version 1511 fills in only a few of the holes. Windows 8.1 users (particularly those tied to the keyboard and mouse) have every reason to jump to Windows 10 -- good riddance to bad interfaces. However, Windows 7 customers need to think carefully about the leap to Windows 10 version 1511.

As long as Edge remains so far behind in the browser wars, there’s no reason to move to Win10 version 1511 for a better browser. Chrome and Firefox work nearly identically in Win7 and Win10.

Not many people take advantage of the Windows 7 Start menu’s adaptability, but those who do will miss it in Windows 10. Start10 or Classic Shell on Windows 10 may prove a viable alternative.

Few people I know find any compelling reason to upgrade in the Windows 10 Universal apps. Cortana is cool, but still a long way from being ubiquitous, much less omniscient. (Try saying, “Hey, Cortana, show updates.”) Hello is a promising feature, but the facial recognition is still dependent on hardware that doesn’t work too well.

Thus far, there is simply no compelling reason to switch from Windows 7. But the biggest deterrent to would-be Windows 7 upgraders might be trust.

To take one example: While Windows 10 telemetry may be perfectly innocuous, other types of snooping are designed to improve Microsoft’s ability to target ads. Microsoft is selling Bing ads based on this newfound Win10 mojo, and we’re beginning to see the result. (Remember the ads that appeared briefly in the Weather app?) Those of you who use Chrome should understand the situation intimately.

A second example: While Microsoft says Windows 10 will be free “for the lifetime of the device,” the recent reversal in OneDrive unlimited storage has many people wondering exactly what Windows 10 promises have been made and which ones are made to be broken.

And a third: Microsoft says it will give Win10 users the ability to hold back on patches -- and, further, it promises to start documenting the patches for an anointed subset of customers. But we haven’t seen any of the concrete plans, much less followed the results.

All of these are good reasons for Windows 7 users to sit tight and see what unfolds.

It was easy to give Windows 10 RTM a vote of confidence when it originally shipped on July 29, but now that we see how slowly the changes are coming, the enthusiasm is starting to wane. It’s getting harder to envision a future where Windows 10 is a platform for Universal apps across phones, tablets, and desktops -- and even harder to imagine a future where app developers give two hoots about Universal apps.

At some point, we’ll have to bite the bullet and switch simply because Windows 10 is new and Windows 7 is old -- not because Windows 10 is better.

This story, "Review: New Windows 10 version still can't beat Windows 7" was originally published by InfoWorld.

Copyright © 2015 IDG Communications, Inc.

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