When Micro$oft released Windows 10 in July 2015, and before that, it was heralded as the final version. This is it, guys and gals, there may be the odd fix, but Windows has reached perfection. Such perfection that Windows 11 is shortly to be released? So what was/is wrong with Windows 10, and how did we get there anyway? Let’s go back, way back…
People of a certain vintage may remember that Micro$oft computers were initially marketed with an interface called MS DOS. This was a command line program, and once you got used to it, it was really cool. DOS still exists, Windows runs on top of it, but it has been deprecated to such a degree that only people with an intimate knowledge of computing now use it. For example, the attrib command is long gone.
Micro$oft’s main rival has always been Apple, which pioneered the graphical user interface, and because most people use computers as a means to an end rather than objects of affection, it was inevitable that Micro$oft would move towards a GUI as well. Dragging and dropping a file in the recycle bin is a lot more instinctive than del C:\acc1986\thisfile*.doc
DOS filenames were limited to 8 characters plus a 3 character extension; now you can give files lengthy, meaningful names. The first version of Windows was called Windows 1.0; released in November 1985, it was followed in quick succession by versions 1.01, 1.02, 1.03 and 1.04. In November 1987, Windows 2.0 appeared, then Windows 3.0 followed by Windows. 3.1. This latter had a very good feel to it, and for most home users at the time, was ideal, but the Internet then social media required faster chips, bigger drives, more memory, more power. If you are under fifty and are not familiar with the history of home computing, the following statement will probably astound you.
On February 5, 1988, an advertisement for Amstrad computers appeared on page 27 of the London Times. Fitted with a 20Mb (twenty megabyte) hard disk, mono £649; colour £799. Both were ex – presumably ex VAT.
Now, if you have a 200Gb hard disk, you can consider yourself a poor relation.
After Windows 3.1, we saw a veritable explosion. There was no Windows 4, but Windows NT, Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Vista, and in October 2009, Windows 7, which like Windows 3.1 before it seemed as good as it needed to get. If you aren’t familiar with the 80/20 rule, this is something that shows up in many places, with computers it means 80% of users use 20% of a program’s full capacity. By this time, it was more of a 98/2 rule, because there are so many programs, and even a formerly humble word processor has a myriad features dedicated users will seldom use.
Windows 7 was and remains very stable, so stable in fact that every library in Britain appears still to be using it, even though support for it ended officially in January last year. Security companies such as AVG have ignored this lack of official support, and are continuing to supply first class support of their own. Windows 8 came and is all but forgotten, which brings us to Windows 10. One of the many complaints about the program is that it destroys your hard drive during defragmentation. When hard drives were very small, fragmented hard disks were a real problem because as files are deleted and new files added, they are written to various sectors of the disk, which slows it down. With the massive hard drives we have now, defragmentation shouldn’t be a problem, but somehow Windows 10 managed to make one. Its new features include the Edge browser and Cortana, but seriously, who needs yet another browser? And Cortana is basically a novelty.
Windows 11 is said to be sensational, but how many times have we heard that before? There will be an improved virtual keyboard, voice typing – that sounds good – but most of the changes/new features are cosmetic. There will be enormous pressure for users to upgrade, but it may be worth delaying upgrading, even if doing so costs more at a later date. Windows 10 hasn’t fulfilled its promise in six years; it would be overly optimistic to expect Windows 11 to live up to the hype within a few months.