Computers & Tech


Windows 10

Windows Sign In Screen
Pros: It was free.

Cons: It exists, and soon everyone will be forced to use it. Run! Run, while you can!!
I bought my computer less than two years ago to replace my circa 2004 dinosaur that ran Windows XP. I liked XP, but when Microsoft stopped supporting it and my old computer began having blackouts, I had to face facts – I needed a new computer. The Dell Inspiron I bought ran Windows 8, which had its annoying idiosyncrasies but worked just fine. I got used to the funky photo home screen and almost got a kick out of seeing my forgotten photos appear in random slide shows. Other than that, I had no trouble with it. Even my husband, who has a difficult time getting used to new technology, was able to survive the learning curve without a scratch. My biggest complaint was that I lost the use of my Adobe Creative Suite (I just couldn’t afford the latest version). So why did I pay attention to a “Free Upgrade to Windows 10” come on?
I knew better. My graphic communications teacher taught me not to grasp onto free upgrades because they tend to be buggy. Yet, all I could think of was being stuck with another outdated operating system. I didn’t want to watch technology pass me by, so when Windows 10 was ready for installation in mid-July, I clicked the install button.

At first, I didn’t see that much of a difference. The Start menu was back, not that I recognized it. The desktop was back, but I could keep it up all the time in Windows 8. Those were the two pluses. Then there was Cortana, an interactive utility that worked well enough when I was too lazy to go online. I could easily live without it.
The other change was the browser. Instead of Internet Explorer (IE), the comfy devil I knew, I had to get acquainted with Edge, whose icon is a blue lower case “e” with a black swirl replacing IE’s golden halo. When launched, it looks like a beta version of the Windows 8 screen.
This reminds me of Odette and Odille in Swan Lake. (For those who don’t know the Tchaikovsky ballet: Odette is a white swan who is really a princess under her stepmother’s spell. At night, she returns in her true form, wearing white. Prince Siegfried see her and falls in love. They want to marry, but he must choose her from a group of princesses at a ball planned by the king. To prevent this, a cohort of Odette’s stepmother has his daughter, Odille, pretend to be Odette at the ball. She wears black but fools Siegfried by using Odette’s signal, and the rest is a tragic end for all.) Like Prince Siegfried, I was disappointed.

Admittedly, I wasn’t in a love-at-first-sight romance with IE. There were hiccups and all sorts of breaks in connectivity. I had all but abandoned it for Chrome. I only used it to play online games that didn’t run on Chrome, but my husband liked it. It was like a pair of comfortable, old slippers for him. I had to go through the hurdles of getting all his favorites back, but it went all right. Then it was time to play my online games. Only the ones I could play on Chrome would load. I contacted tech support and found out that I’d have to install Firefox if I want to continue playing old favorites. This means that Edge is now my husband’s browser. I have absolutely no use for it.
For the first couple of weeks, things worked well enough. I managed to get over having to install a third browser and learned to ignore Cortana unless I was stumped – or bored – during a search. Then the first bug bit me: Microsoft Word refused to open! This would have been bad enough any day, but on this day, I had looming deadlines for my volunteer work. I searched forum after forum until finally, I found profuse thanks for a cure. I just needed to backtrack through the thread to find the cure that everyone cheered. Whatever it was that I had to do felt like a final project in my 1990s computer programming class. It was not a quick fix, and somehow I ended up having to assign a PIN to access the computer because I’m not enough of an expert to decide which instructions have nothing to do with the fix. After three hours and a few reboots, I was finally able to begin working on my volunteer project.
I became complacent after surviving that bug. I thought that was the worst of it – until the end of August. We had been out for most of that weekend, and my husband was anxious to get to his email on Monday. It wasn’t long before he ran into an issue for which there was no “easy fix.” Emblazoned across the screen was an error window without options. The message was terrifying: “Critical Error: Cortana not working. We’ll try to fix on next sign in.” There was only one button to click. It was marked “sign out.” My husband called ATT for help, and they sent someone over. The tech was an expert, but he couldn’t figure it out. The fix he read about required starting in “safe mode.” This is done by tapping the F8 key while rebooting. Windows 10 ignored the F8 key several times. The tech apologized for not being able to start the computer in safe mode and suggested we get Microsoft to make a miracle. At that moment, the computer booted up without the angry Critical Error window. He shook his head, I said a little prayer of thanks, and he wished us well.

I thought the Critical Error window was gone for good, but it came back a week later! There was no way out. I ended up doing the same thing the tech did. After the fifth reboot, the thing disappeared.
Over the last few weeks, I talked to friends who also upgraded to Windows 10. Every one of them had complaints similar to ours. My advice: Caveat Emptor – especially when it’s a free upgrade. It’s my hope that Bill Gates happens upon this review and puts my computer back the way it was!