It’s been about a month now since Microsoft released Windows 10 as a free upgrade for existing users of Windows, and it looks like the new operating system is off to a strong start. It’s hard to say exactly how many people have taken advantage of the free upgrade offer, but in mid-August sources at Microsoft told tech news site NeoWin had surpassed 53 million installs.

Maybe you’re still not sure if you want to get on board and upgrade to Windows 10 on your system, however. It’s natural to be a little leery; early adopters of new tech products often have to put up with some bugs. Or maybe you still feel burned by Windows 8. If that’s the case, maybe we can help you make an informed decision on whether to upgrade.

This won’t be a comprehensive review of Windows 10. If you’re looking for a more in-depth take, we recommend the reviews at CNET or PC Magazine. In this series, our goal is just to attempt to give an overall impression of what using Windows 10 is like and discuss some of the major new features to take the uncertainty out of the equation for those still unsure whether to upgrade.

Overview: A Happy Medium


The Windows 10 desktop.

One of the biggest problems with Windows 8 was that at times it seemed like it simply wasn’t designed for use on a regular desktop or laptop computer. Microsoft tried to design an operating system interface that would give users the same experience whether they were using their computer, their tablet, or a phone. However, many people felt that objective was fundamentally flawed. You don’t use your desktop computer in the same way you use a tablet; a computer with a 24” screen that you use with a keyboard and mouse needs a different interface from a tablet with a 10” screen that you operate by touch. With Windows 8, it sometimes seemed as if Microsoft had focused too much on the tablet side, resulting in an experience on desktops and laptops that was frustrating, less functional, and less intuitive compared to previous versions of Windows.

Happily, Windows 10 makes it obvious that Microsoft learned from the mistakes they made in this area. Overall, the user interface of Windows 10 feels much more like it was designed for use on computers first and foremost, or at least that the computer experience was put on an equal footing with the needs of tablet operation. Using Windows 10 on a desktop or laptop computer feels a lot like using Windows 7 with a slight visual facelift and some of the best features of Windows 8 and features inspired by mobile devices incorporated. Windows 10 feels like a “happy medium.” If Windows 7 represented the pinnacle of the Windows design evolution that began way back when Windows 95 began the “modern” era of Windows by introducing features like the Start menu, and Windows 8 was an aggressive (perhaps too aggressive) look to a future of computing heavily dominated by mobile devices, Windows 10 is the “sweet spot” that largely incorporates the best features of each.

Check out Part 2 of our review for a more in-depth discussion of the look and feel of Windows 10!