Microsoft released its latest version of the Windows operating system on July 29th, 2015. This edition runs on desktops, notebooks and Intel-based tablets, with the mobile version following later. IT has been testing several development releases as part of Microsoft's preview programme.  We share the following things with our NWU community.

Windows 10 will be released as a free (for the first year) update for consumer versions of Windows. However, our license agreement for University devices covers enterprise versions of Windows, which will not receive the no- cost update. But rest assured, we will be able to update in future.

Because we haven't yet had the opportunity to properly evaluate a final production release, it is difficult to say with certainty if Windows 10 will work with the hundreds of applications used at the NWU. Just testing every feature (even skipping the obscure ones) of every application with a new release of Windows is a huge task. Once that is done, working through the list of things that need fixing is even more challenging.

While stating the necessary disclaimers and caveats associated with not having fully tested a final release, our general impression is that the basics (network connectivity and Internet access) seem to mostly work with the preview releases.  More advanced applications have an estimate 50/50 chance of encountering problems, while certain administrative- and academic systems seem to mostly not work.  Again, once we've had the opportunity to properly test a production version, we will have more certainty around the compatibility.

Numerous users are still adjusting to the changes in Windows 8. Windows 10 will require quite a mind shift for some people, albeit likely not as significant as Windows 8. There are several differences in the user interface. While the familiar task bar menu has been brought back, there are also personalised "live" tile windows as in Windows 8. Windows 10 also has the ability to run multiple desktops, with apps again running in a window, as with Windows 7 and earlier. In many ways it seems as if the interface elements from Windows 7 and 8 were merged in Windows 10.

Using Windows 10 without a Microsoft login ID for their cloud services is almost not worth it. Using the cloud-based services can be handy – such as having backup copies of documents stored in the cloud. It can also be risky for all the cloud services are currently based outside the country.  This implies that in the regulatory sense, one has to think carefully about which types of information is stored in the cloud. Interesting problems are likely to arise in cases where one has no Internet access to use the cloud services - something which is a reality for us, but not necessarily for the designers of the operating system.

It might be wise to wait a while before updating to Windows 10, but for the adventurous among us it can be an exciting journey.

31 July 2015