We can talk all day about the benefits you can gain from upgrading the hardware on your computer. Switching from spinning platters to solid state drives will certainly give you a boost in performance, as will increasing the amount of RAM you have or installing a more powerful graphics card. Those are all under the hood, but the thing that you'll actually see and use every day is the operating system. And that's a big part of the reason why Windows 10 is such a big deal.
This represents a fairly sizable shift for Microsoft, especially considering that you can upgrade your Windows 7 or Windows 8 device to Windows 10 for free. This gives you even more motivation to shift up to the new operating system, since it doesn't cost you a penny. Windows 10 has been available since July 29th, including in Australia, and the free upgrade is being pushed out in waves through Windows Update. So, what are some of the biggest and most important features and functions you can expect?
By far, the biggest change that you'll get with Windows 10 is the elimination of the segmentation problem in Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. You don't have to endure the strange experience of having two wholly different environments: one with the more traditional desktop layout and the other with the big touch-friendly tiles. It was always so odd when you'd open up one of the "Metro" apps while in desktop mode, only to get thrown in the full-screen tablet-esque layout.
That's not to say that Windows 10 isn't touch-friendly. With Continuum, Microsoft aims to provide you with the optimal experience on a contextual basis. If you have a tablet or a convertible PC, it'll give you the big touch-friendly layout if you want, but it can automatically switch to the more traditional desktop after you attach a keyboard and mouse. It's meant to be seamless, intuitive and convenient.
Of course, a great "new" function in Windows 10 that has everyone talking is the return of the Start Menu. This isn't the Start Menu of old, however, because it has now been hybridized with the Live Tiles of the Start Screen from Windows 8. You can still sift through your programs like the old Start Menu, but those Live Tiles give you the added functionality that they did too. You can see right away if you have new email messages or an upcoming appointment.
But there's even more to the Start Menu with the introduction of Cortana. This digital assistant has been borrowed from the Windows Phone environment and adapted to work on your tablets, laptops and desktops. Just like Siri and Google Now, Cortana can be operated using only your voice. Go ahead and perform a Bing search, for example. As time goes on, I'm sure Cortana's utility will expand too.
And indeed, this is only the beginning. This is only the tip of the iceberg. As Windows 10 matures with more software updates, it really could become the operating system we've all been asking for. If you're looking to rock it in Australia, you can upgrade to Windows 10 at Harvey Norman with your choice of solution.