Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public on July 29, 2015. Virtually anyone with a Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 operating system (OS) can upgrade to Windows 10 for FREE – until July 29 2016. Time is starting to become an issue.
You have been waiting — waiting to hear that it is totally safe to upgrade. You have been hesitant to upgrade for fear that you will not like the new OS. You are also hesitant because you could run into trouble with the upgrade.
In my experience over the past 12 months, the Windows 10 upgrade usually works just fine. I would say that 90% of the upgrades that I have done have gone without a hitch – just follow the prompts. To me the bigger issue is getting Windows 10 to look like you want it to look and feel. Depending on your current environment (number of devices) and your fondness or dislike of the icons on a cell phone, this look could vary greatly. The rest of this paper will discuss one of the biggest changes, the Start Menu and how you can adjust it.
Start Menu – Customize It
The main advertised feature of Windows 10 is the return of the start menu. Although promoted this way, this is still a very new Start menu, especially if you are coming from Windows 7. For those on Windows 8.1, the differences are much less.
The default Start menu fills about 1/3 of the screen. I personally like to set it to the full screen. That way I can populate it with about 99% of all the apps that I will ever use. To size the Start menu, select the Settings option (left side of Start menu). Next select Personalization and then Start at the middle left of the screen. To expand the Start menu for full screen, select, Use Start Full Screen. If you don’t want the entire screen, you could alternately select the Show More Tiles option at the top of the page.
Once the Start menu is sized as you’d like, you will need to adjust the applications on the start menu. Microsoft heavily populates the Start menu as if it were a cell phone. There are games, news, weather and a host of new apps that they are pushing all of which are populated after the upgrade. This is done even if you had a sparsely populated Windows 8.1 start menu.
Once you have sized it to your liking, you will want to modify it to suite your needs. In many cases (all of my upgrades to date), you will first want to remove icons. To remove an icon e.g. Xbox, you right click on the icon and check the remove from Start menu option. Unfortunately, you will have to do this for each application as there is no way yet to select multiple Start menu icons. If you want to add an application that is already on your computer but not on the start menu, you will have to select (click) the four lines at the bottom left of the start menu (just above the Microsoft Windows 10 rectangle). This will reveal an alphabetized list of all of the applications currently installed. To add an application to the Start menu, you right click the icon and chose the add to start menu option. Here is where you would put the applications that you use most: Firefox, Word, Excel, QuickBooks, etc. I also like to put my Windows tools on the Start menu. This includes for me the Control Panel, Settings, Command Prompt and the Snipping Tool to name a few. Adding and removing icons on the taskbar is done very similarly.
There are many other opportunities for customization. There are also a few parameters that NEED to be checked after the upgrade. The upgrade can disable some features that will cause you much grief if not re-enabled such as Restore Points.
If this overwhelms you or if you would just rather have a professional take care of it, then the best thing to do is to contact your favorite computer professional and have them upgrade to Windows 10 for you. If I perform your upgrade, I will do it 1) on your off-hours, 2) setup your Windows 10 to emulate your current windows OS as closely as possible and 3) then explain Windows 10 to you in detail. Windows 10 is here to stay so you might as well accept it and start to put some of its good features to work for you.
By Chuck Balogh is the author of this article and the owner of Triskelion Inc