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Windows 10 review: Hold off if you use Windows 7

Woody Leonhard | July 30, 2015
After the truly wretched Windows 8 and marginally less wretched Windows 8.1, Windows 10 comes as a breath of fresh air.

It appears that Windows 10 Home customers have no option to delay or block updates. Windows 10 Pro customers, on the other hand, may be attached to a Current Branch for Business server, and the admin there may be able to postpone patches for a finite (but still undefined) amount of time. I haven't heard anything definitive about Windows 10 Pro customers who aren't attached to a CBB server, but there's no Settings page as yet that would implement the ability to block specific patches. It looks like Win10 Pro users who aren't attached to a CBB server will get patches as they come hurtling out. That has some troubling consequences, which I'll explore in a later post.

Security

Microsoft has been talking about security improvements in Windows 10 for almost a year.

From a user point of view, the single largest improvement is in multifactor security techniques tied to accounts where you simply log in once and do nearly anything. The single most important improvement is the system-level separation on a given device of corporate and personal data, using a new technology called Data Loss Prevention. 

There's built-in support for VPNs. Admins also get corporate lockdown capabilities, limiting apps that can be installed to those signed by specific vendors, along with Azure Active Directory integration. Enterprise apps from the Windows Store can be sideloaded -- and much more.

Windows 10 has its own native Mobile Device Management (MDM) with BYOD support, Enterprise Data Proection policies, and full wipe capabilities. The built-in MDM capabilities are integrated into Intune. They're also promised to work well with third-party MDM packages. I haven't seen anything extending MDM-like capabilities to the individual -- if you lose your laptop, there's no FindMyPhone feature accessible from the Web, for example.

Compatibility

This is one area where Windows 10 shines. I've had few compatibility problems running any of the numerous betas and expect to see very few still around on July 29. Some drivers may not work properly, but the installer highlights those and tells you what (if anything) you can do about it. I fully expect that any application running on Windows 8/8.1 -- and, by implication, almost any app that runs on Windows 7 -- will do fine on Windows 10.

Conclusion

Windows 10 is a curious combination of enormous potential and disappointing current reality. With big advances in many areas, and fumbling starts in many others, it's a mixed bag, particularly for anyone relying on the Microsoft-developed Universal apps. For example, if you need to run a Mail client on Windows 10, the Microsoft-supplied Universal Mail app works, but the Maps and Photos app will have you pulling your hair out.

 

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