Windows Technical Preview

I’m having a play with the new Windows Technical Preview / Windows 10 and find myself pleasantly impressed.

I’ve installed it onto two machines, both machines around 8 years old. One a Pentium D based device, the other with an AMD Athlon processor, both of these computers originally came with XP. So we’re not talking about modern hi-tech stuff but rather antiquated hardware somewhat on the wrong side of their ‘best before’ dates.

From starting up the install process (via DVD) to having a running system  took between 20 to 30 minutes. No crashes or hiccups, in fact these were some of the smoothest installs that I’ve done in ages.

The AMD processor’d device is a HP machine which came with on-board graphics; this I’d quickly upgraded with a base model NVIDIA graphics card. The support for this specific card ended with Windows Vista so when I installed Windows 7 onto this machine the graphics did give problems, but with a bit of effort I did manage to get it all sorted out. When I then went to Windows 8 the graphics moved from ‘a problem’ to that of a real pain, though again I managed to get things sorted. However with this new Windows Technical Preview the default graphic drivers worked the card without any real problems, and when I did my first series of Windows Updates it automatically installed some NVIDIA drivers which got the card working really nicely.

The only drivers I had to specifically download was for the audio. As with the NVIDIA card, the support for this machine’s particular Realteck on-board sound chip-set ended with Vista, but downloading and installing the Realteck Vista drivers sorted that out. So overall very happy with the way things went. On the Pentium machine nothing special needed to be done beyond the basic install routine. Considering the age of these machines I was quite (pleasantly) surprised

Perhaps the best thing for many people is that there’s a real ‘Start Menu’ to use again. Initially it appears like a blend of the Windows 8 live tiles combined with the more conventional Windows menu system. However it can be quickly re-configured to have the look and feel of earlier Windows (or if you prefer tiles, to the look of windows 8).

I’ve installed the usual round of programs (Microsoft Office, Firefox, Chrome, Dropbox, Evernote, VLC…) and all have run without any problems. One or two more demanding programs (not yet officially supporting Win 10) have also gone on (such as LabVIEW) and have also worked quite happily. I’ve played briefly with the virtual desktops (about time Widows had this feature built-in). Being able to snap application windows to corners / sides of the screen is handy and helps to keep things tidy. One slight annoyance is how the control settings seem to be split across the new PC Settings and old Control Panel. I wish they’d have one of the other, not both.

So, so far so good. As someone who has always configured his screen layout to have a look and feel of a basic Windows 95 / XP desktop, I’d class this Windows Technical Preview as a case of ‘familiar but different’. Assuming things continue on the way they are then I will be looking forward to the full release some time next year – and if anyone has a spare PC (or even space on their existing hard drive) then I’ll encourage them to give this Technical Preview a try.

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