Decision Time: 10 Reasons To Upgrade To Windows 10

Decision Time

Microsoft is going all out in cajoling users to upgrade to Windows 10 -- the supposed "last version of Windows." And for a little while longer, part of the pitch includes that the upgrade is free (for Home and Pro users, not Enterprise). It's free until July 29, to be exact.

So far, many, many Windows users do not care.

"The free upgrade is great, but you also have to reassure business customers that the transition isn't going to be disastrous -- that folks are still going to be able to be productive," said Tim Lynch, CEO of Psychsoft, a Quincy, Mass.-based Microsoft partner. "Instead, it falls on folks like me to do all the research and reassure people that, yeah, you can move to Windows 10 if you want to do that, and the majority of stuff is going to work."

But are there actual reasons to upgrade to Windows 10? Yes, there are, and we've got 10 of them in the slides that follow.

First Things First

For the purpose of this post we'll assume users are upgrading from Windows 7 -- which, according to NetMarketShare, easily remains the market-share leader with about 48.6 percent of all desktops running it (compared with 17.4 percent for Windows 10). We'll also assume users are on a desktop or laptop computer, because for mobile devices, the case for Windows 10 is stronger.

1. The Inevitability Factor

The first reason is the obvious one -- if Windows 10 truly is the last version of Windows that Microsoft is planning to release, then users are probably going to want to upgrade to it eventually. And why not do so while it's free, the logic might go. Microsoft is cutting off security updates for Windows 7 in January 2020, so while keeping the OS might make sense in present circumstances, down the road, maybe not so much.

2. Windows 10 Is Pretty

Maybe users will dislike some of the changes in Windows 10 from Windows 7, but the new look probably won't be one of them. It's slick. Yes, the Windows 10 Start Menu is not universally loved, but it's easy on the eyes, and so is the presentation of apps and navigation features in the operating system overall.

3. Security

The biggest advantage of Windows 10 over Windows 7 is the improvement to security, according to Deepak Kumar, founder and CTO of Adaptiva, which makes software for distribution of Windows 10. There are a number of security features that "are either not in Windows 7, or are substantially enhanced," Kumar told CRN. Some of the fancier security features aren't available for everyone who upgrades, such as Windows Hello biometric authentication (needs some special hardware) and malware barrier Device Guard (only a part of Windows 10 Enterprise). Still, Windows 7 users will see some security pluses from upgrading to Windows 10 Pro, including Passport (single sign-in service) and BitLocker (drive encryption).

4. Action Center

New in Windows 10 is a feature that centralizes notifications and common PC settings -- the Action Center, located at the bottom right corner of the desktop (the icon looks like a speech bubble). The Action Center aims to help with productivity but also cleans up the user interface a bit by replacing information bubble pop-ups on Windows. The Action Center is also customizable in Windows 10 settings.

5. File Explorer

More on the productivity front: File Explorer is a bit better in Windows 10, with the addition of a default landing page for it. There users can view recently opened files and folders, select folders they'd like to have Quick Access to in the future, and send files to and from OneDrive storage.

6. Easier Search

Windows 10 adds a search box to the task bar that might save users some time here and there. Along with searching the computer, it can also search the Web (only using Bing).

7. Cortana

Along with putting the search box in the task bar, Windows 10 introduces another way to find stuff by integrating the Cortana voice assistant as well.

8. Virtual Desktops

For users who've just got too much going on in on their screen, Windows 10 adds the ability to create virtual desktops that let them spread things out a bit. "Desktops" might not be the right way to think about them -- it's more like having multiple monitors without actually needing multiple monitors -- but whatever you want to call them, Microsoft is hoping they'll give users another productivity boost out of Windows 10.

9. No More Internet Explorer

Microsoft's long-running web browser, Internet Explorer, has been put out of its misery in Windows 10, and replaced with the new Edge browser. Along with not being Internet Explorer, Edge has benefits including less of a drain on battery life than competing browsers, according to Microsoft.

10. Microsoft Will Stop Harassing Users To Upgrade To Windows 10

Possibly the most compelling reason of all.