Tuesday, 13 October 2015

I finish the cutover to Windows 10 and Office 2016 for PCs and Macs


I've mainly finished my transition to Windows 10 and Office 2016.

It has all worked well, with the only mishaps being computers that stayed 'hung' on the "updating and then we'll switch off and re-boot" screen. It's one of those screens that I'm inclined to leave a long time before eventually pressing reset.

The end result of the updates has been pretty good. Windows 10 is like a cleaned up version of Windows 7, with few of the tiling and other Windows 8/8.1 functions left available. On my ex-Windows 7 work machine it runs fast and on the iMac in a virtual machine it is extremely slick. There's still pieces of the old code lurking, such as the old 'run' dialogues, still available by pressing WINDOWS+R, from which it is possible to launch olde worlde Windows utilities like msconfig or regedit. Even the glitzy co tool panel will revert to old-style dialogues for mildly unusual requests.

The other new thing with Windows 10 has been Microsoft Edge, the replacement browser. It is generally pretty good, although it currently lacks extensions, so to use the password security feature currently requires some deftness. 1Password also highlighted Microsoft's Wifi Sense addition for Windows 10, which is the thing that defaults to let all of the contacts in the contacts list have access to my private wifi network. I need to read the small print book of FAQs on this, which I've currently disabled.

The other big part of the jigsaw has been the updates to Microsoft Office, which are now part of Office 365 or Office 2016. Those have been straightforward updates on both the Windows and the Mac platform and the resultant software runs smoothly and error free (touch wood) in both environments. Some of the oddities of the previous Windows 8-ish versions have been removed. The shouty ALL CAPITALS menus have been changed back to mixed case and there's a modicum of customisation of the appearance of the product which can suit both the Windows and the Mac world.

What I particularly like is the way that the functionality has converged across Mac and PC in these new versions. I usually work with Excel on a PC and every so often if I try to do something on a Mac its just different enough to make my head hurt. All the way from simple things like formatting that were different, through to pivot tables and beyond.

The latest version seem to have rationalised those things, which were enough to make me actually swap back from a Mac to a PC if I had some serious spreadsheeting to do.

Word had some quirks too, particularly some types of fiddly editing which would fail on a Mac, as would some kinds of simple copying like embedding an Excel spreadsheet as a picture into a Word document.

I haven't tried all the combinations yet, but it looks as if it has got a whole lot better - particularly when working across mixed platforms.

I'll still be using the PC for what I call 'Work work', where Excel, PowerPoint, Word and Outlook are usually the corporate weapons of choice, and where I know I need to be able to swap documents reliably with other people.

Add for the occasional Project plan or Visio diagram, the extended Microsoft office suite becomes essential.

So it is pleasing that they seem to be getting the latest versions right, after a few aberrations in the last series.

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