Tech Sense: Windows 10 Pain (Part 1)

January 1, 2017

 

Windows 10 Pain
    Microsoft made a giant push to get the entire world to update to Windows 10. Microsoft gave free upgrades to everyone that had Windows 7 and Windows 8, and it installed annoying software to remind everyone to update. To be fair, Windows 10 is a much better experience than Windows 8, but it is far from perfect. Starting in August, Microsoft has been updating Windows 10 computers with the anniversary update, and it is expected that in the spring of 2017 another major update to Windows 10 will be pushed. This month, I will use this column to describe some of my frustrations with Windows 10 and will cover some workarounds in case these things annoy you as well.

Inconsistent User Interface for Settings
    Years ago, Microsoft created the control panel, a common container for small applications (called applets) to allow the user to manage the settings on the computer in one place with a single, common user interface. Microsoft broke this with Windows 8 by creating new applications in the Windows 8 style of user interface for some but not all of the settings. The settings not covered in the new Windows 8 style still required you to go to the control panel. Windows 10 did not fix this, and as a result you have to use 2 different applets and styles of applications located in two different places to manage things like network connections, users, or mouse settings, for example. 
    I normally start by using the control panel applets because they tend to be more full-featured. To find the control panel, open the application menu by clicking on the Windows button at the bottom left of the screen and scroll to then open the Windows system folder. You can add a control panel icon to your desktop by right clicking on the desktop and selecting personalize from the menu. From the personalize dialog, select themes from the left menu and then select desktop icon settings. Check the box for control panel and any of the other icons you want on your desktop.

 

Windows Updates
    Microsoft created a good program for managing Windows updates years ago and has continued the program with Windows 10. However, if you have the Home edition, Microsoft forces you to receive the updates whether you want them or not. Unfortunately, their timing is terrible. It seems like every time I need to shutdown my laptop to rush to the airport for travel, Microsoft wants to spend 30 minutes updating my computer. If you are a Windows Home user, you can set "active hours," a 1- to 12-hour time window when Microsoft will not restart your computer. To access the active hours, go to settings (the gear icon) and select "update and security." Under update settings, there is a link to "change active hours.” Unfortunately, this does not prevent Microsoft from installing updates when you shut you system down.

 

Active Tiles
    If you click on the start button, that little button adorned with a Windows icon on the bottom left of most Windows computers, a menu pane will pop up with a series of squares or rectangles. Each of these is a program designed to work on “tablet mode.” These tiles are called “live tiles” because they periodically slow your computer down by updating their content and reaching out to the Internet. You can speed up your computer by right clicking on the each rectangle and selecting “more” and then selecting “turn live tile off.” If you do not want or use the application, you can “unpin” it or uninstall the application. Do not unpin the application unless you have turned the live tile off first. 
    In my opinion, this “live tile” functionality is a waste because the tiles are only visible from the Start Menu. If you could place the tiles on the desktop like the Windows 7 widgets, this might be useful. I have turned all of my tiles off. Face it: even if you play Candy Crush Soda, do you really need it to be updated every few minutes when you are not playing it?
In addition, Windows 10 has many background applications that run automatically but do not need to run if you do not use them. These are turned off by clicking the gear icon on the left of the “start menu,” selecting privacy, scrolling to the bottom, and selecting background apps. Turn off each app you do not use. I have turned them all off.

 

Security, Privacy, and Cortana the Spy
    I can find many other annoying things about Windows 10. If you have a particular one, let me know, and I will try to cover it in the future. In the meantime, I am running out of time and space this month. Next month we will look at security, privacy, and “Cortana the Spy.”

 

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