IF you’ve dutifully followed the nagging messages that Microsoft has placed on your screen and upgraded your computer to run Windows 10, it will have become very obvious they haven’t finished it yet.
The latest version of the 25-year-old operating system is designed to be the last. Instead of relaunches every few years, the company will deploy occasional updates and fixes and unless you tinker with the settings, you will have no control over when this happens. It means you can expect your computer to freeze up every so often while Microsoft “improves” it.
Interest in Windows 10, of course, has been fuelled by the fact that it’s being given away. The last two versions, at nearly £100 each, didn’t get anything like as much coverage. But the vast user base that the new system already commands means that, fully ready or not, it’s going to be the one we’ll be using for years to come. So here are a few tips for making the most of it...
1. Right-click the Start button. The biggest attraction of the new system is its appealing, tile-based design – but sometimes, the quickest way to get things done is simply to bypass it. You can do this by right-clicking the Windows button in the bottom-left corner – it produces a plain-text list of useful shortcuts for, among other things, searching, launching the file explorer and shutting down or rebooting the PC.
2. Uninstall from the Start Menu. Getting rid of unwanted apps and programs in Windows has traditionally involved a labyrinthine process of navigating to the control panel and then scrolling down a list. Windows 10 simplifies this somewhat by letting you right-click the app in question on your Start Menu and selecting the Uninstall option right there. Depending on the type of app, the removal process might happen immediately, or take you to the list of old; either way, it’s fewer clicks.
3. Customise your Start Menu. The absence of the Start Menu in Windows 8 was widely perceived to be the cause of its commercial failure, and has certainly prompted a volte-face this time round. The new incarnation includes “live tiles” which can display information about the weather, unread emails and much else, and can also be dragged around and resized. Right-click each one to choose how you’d like to see it, then drag the right-hand edge of the menu itself to make it wider or narrower.
4. Manage your mail. The inbuilt email and calendar app in Windows 10 is not as good as Apple’s but years ahead of anything we’ve seen before from Microsoft. It will display messages from multiple accounts with different providers and let you set different notification settings for each. In this way, you can choose to hide incoming messages from your work account. You’ll find the tweaks for this by clicking Settings and then Options from within the app.
5. Play cards! Everyone’s favourite time killer, Solitaire, has made a welcome reappearance on Windows 10, but you’ll need plenty of time just to find it. Here’s a clue: navigate on the Start Menu to All Apps and then “Microsoft Solitaire Collection Preview”.