Steve Ross: Is Windows 10’s honeymoon ending?

Shackleton Technologies managing director Steve Ross
Shackleton Technologies managing director Steve Ross
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Windows 10 is going down well with users in both business and domestic contexts – but it hasn’t all been positive and some security concerns are lingering.

Since its release at the end of July, Windows 10 has seen undeniably impressive uptake – winning almost as many users as Apple’s OS X. Within a few days of its release, the new operating system (OS) claimed around 14 million devices, and a month later that number had risen to 75 million.

Of course, this comes with the caveat that Microsoft made the upgrade available for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8 enabled devices, but response to the software from both domestic and professional users has been generally positive across devices. By September, Windows 10 had carved itself a 5.21 per cent share of the desktop market, actually edging out Windows 8.1 and OS X Yosemite. The upshot – after the struggles with Windows 8 and 8.1 – is that Microsoft is obviously doing something right with 10.

We noted that users undecided about whether to make the leap to Windows 10 would be well served holding off for a few weeks or even months, and sure enough, in its first month, the OS saw several fixes released for apps including Calendar, Mail and the Windows Store. Every big software launch has its teething problems, so it’d be unfair to criticise Windows 10 too harshly, but since its release, some issues have persisted:

Default apps: Windows 10 removes default file associations – so if you’ve spent time meticulously assigning software to certain apps, there’s a chance you’ll have to do it all again. A trivial issue maybe, but no less annoying for it.

Touchpad: Users upgrading from Windows 8.1 have reported problems with touchpad functionality. This seems to stem from a Synaptics driver issue, which a recent update may fix.

Reboot loop: One of Microsoft’s updates triggered a looping reboot glitch in some devices. A fix is possible if you can work with the OS registry files – failing that, you will have to disable mandatory updates.

Google Chrome: This one applies to the “Insider” programme. A recent Windows 10 update created an instability in Chrome which triggered a consistent error screen for many users. Google effectively blamed Microsoft for the problem – but there are workarounds available.

Beyond the practical working problems, privacy concerns have also surrounded Windows 10’s release development. Many users noticed default settings in the OS which send data, location and other personal information to Microsoft and, worryingly, upload that data (including wi-fi passwords) to other Windows 10 computers. There are ways to opt out of the sharing settings, but these options are buried beneath reams of policy documents.

Unfortunately, this kind of policy represents standard operating procedure nowadays – and it falls on us to remain vigilant over the way we interact with the software we use every day, putting appropriate protections in place and making sure we understand the nuances of the technology we use. It’s a consequence of the new era of cloud computing, and the personalised, streamlined experience tech companies are offering as they search for that innovative edge to draw users to their software. Of course, Windows 10 is no exception.

Perhaps the real problem of the Windows 10 launch isn’t the practical issues, or the ongoing privacy and security concerns, but the fact that the update process itself needs to change. In the rush to push software to users, tech companies like Microsoft ignore or dismiss the need to keep users informed. By enhancing the upgrade experience for users, they stand to keep users on-side and, crucially, help us use their software safely and productively.

Steve Ross is managing director of Shackleton Technologies