Boy, the Windows World is different than the Mac OS X world. When Apple rolls out an OS X major update, it just works. The image downloads, the installer runs, and it works as advertised. And the OS X reviewers say useful things about it. The Windows universe is not quite as polished but Microsoft has made steady improvement with Windows 7, 8, and now 10. The technical toy press treats the Windows 10 roll out as “ho hum, yet another WIndows” kind of like “yet another Republican presidential candidate.” And the technical toy press is looking for clicks so most of the articles have scary leads for things that are not that bad. Is Windows 10 good enough to ditch my Mac? No. Is it good enough that I won’t mind cranking up Windows to run ESplanner? Yes. And I may even turn off convergence mode.
Convergence mode is a Parallels trick that lets Parallels make Windows files and Windows program shortcuts available on the desktop, in the dock, and in the Finder. Turn on convergence, click an icon, and the Windows application window appears in the OS X universe. Except to log in and log out, there is no need ever to look at Windows desktop. A nice feature but one that is nowhere near as necessary as it was a few releases ago when Windows was ugly. Windows 10 is well thought out, not a muddle of mouse and touch, and the new colors, dialogs, and features are easy on the eye and recognize that Windows is part of a larger universe of computing rather than the walled garden from MSDOS to Windows 7.
This article started out as a quick note but given the poor quality description of the installation experience out there, I decided to write a long form post for my peeps. Most of you change Windows versions when you decide to change computers. Most do this when the disk becomes colicky or one too many dodgy websites was visited and the machine became infested with adware or other user experience enhancements.
Windows 7, 8, and 10 are the best Windows yet. As David Pogue explained in his reviews and in WIndows 8, the Missing Manual, Windows 8 is the two greatest versions of Windows yet. Windows 8 was an attempt to support both a mouse UI and a touch UI in a single operating system. Apple chose not to do this and carefully keeps OS X and IOS separate. In reality, they share a kernel and many enabling technology libraries but each has its own unique user interface library. Apple did this to ensure that applications would not have a mixed metaphor user interface. OS X applications are mouse only. IOS applications are touch only.
Because Microsoft tried to make one OS to rule them all, it got into trouble by mixing its metaphors. Some actions are mouse only, some are touch only, but many have both touch gestures and mouse gesture access. The catch is that it is difficult for the user to recognize which are which. Win 8 takes the OS X task bar and turns it into a task screen of Tiles. Tiles allow you to launch applications. Once an app is launched, the app can change the tile to show what the app is currently doing.
A charm bar on the right allows access to many Win 8 functions. To summon the charms, move the mouse to the upper right corner of the display and it will appear. Alternately, touching the upper right corner will summon the charms bar.
Windows 10 fixes the touch interface and mouse interface gaps. It also brings back the start menu to the bottom toolbar of each screen. Those folks I’ve spoken with also report that startup is faster, login is faster, and use is crisper and more intuitive than in Win 8.
I can’t find any. When OS X ships, Ars Technica has a major review of a hundred paragraphs or so. No interest anywhere to be found about Windows 10.
Burried in the tool tray is an icon to download Windows 10. Click it. A process opens, thinks a bit, and reports that the VM’s display does not support Windows 10. This blows chunks in Parallels. The updater does not approve of the Parallels 10 virtual video device and exits without further comment
Updating from an ISO Image
The recommended work around is to install Windows 10 from an ISO image. You can obtain these at
This page describes the basic process and gives links for obtaining the proper 32 bit or 64 bit version. Having an Intel Core2 machine, I opted for the 64 bit version.
The scheme of things is as follows.
- Start the Windows virtual machine and sign in to the admin account (the first one added, not you working account)
- Download the ISO
- Copy or save it to a 8 GB or larger FAT32 thumb drive
- Open the iso
- Start setup.exe
- Review the license terms
The Win 10 License
The Windows 10 license has been a source of some controversy in the enthusiast press so I thought it would be a good Idea to review it. Highlights follow.
- You must have a Windows license to run Win 10 on the hardware. You obtain a license by purchasing one with the hardware. If you home brewed, you need to have a license for Windows XP or newer and may be asked for the license key. If you purchased a built system from Dell, HP, Acer, etc the OEM will have included a license and license key with the machine. The key is usually on a sticker affixed to the case.
- The license entitles you to install Windows on 1 computer or in one virtual machine.
- The license allows you to make one backup copy whatever that is. Copy of the ISO image? It is silent on VM clones, etc. Don’t ask, don’t tell.
- It describes your rights to revert to an earlier version of Windows should you need to do so. This is largely left over from the bad taste of Vista days.
- It describes the remote access policy (1 session every 90 days)
- It describes the screen sharing policy (1 session at a time)
These terms are appropriate for a personal use machine that will be browsing, emailing, photo editing, etc. The privacy policies that have stirred some hate and discontent are separate from the license policy. I’ll cover those after installation when they can be examined and adjusted.
Continuing with the installation
After reviewing the license, I elected to continue with the installation. The installer proceeded as follows.
- Check for updates. It may take a few minutes and they are not kidding. Too bad you can’t review the license while the updater performs the check.
- Once the update check is complete, you are presented with a list of editions that you can install (Win 10 home for me) and the option to retain your user files. I selected both of these and let ‘er rip.
- Once all the installation media is updated, the installer replaces the kernel and core libraries and restarts.
- Next, it updates the applications libraries that come with the OS and will restart.
- This process takes a couple of hours (similar to an OS X update)
- To this point, I’ve not been asked to make choices or enter local data.
My First Login
I have two accounts on the machine, the administrator account, cleverly called something else, and a user account which is also my Microsoft Id which look suspiciously like my Google ID. I logged into the administrator account first. This first login gave me the opportunity to personalize my settings for the new Edge browser, auto correct, WiFi auto-login, etc. I disabled a good bit of this stuff because it was not appropriate to a Mac Mini sitting at home running Win 10 in a Parallels virtual machine.
When I logged into the user account with my Microsoft ID I was not given the opportunity to make these settings. Apparently, they are supposed to be remembered across devices and are properties of my Microsoft ID.
A Microsoft ID is a single Email address associated with all of the Microsoft web services that you use much as Google ID and Apple ID are for those two companies. The following Microsoft knowledge base article is the root of the Windows 10 introduction tutorial. It’s actually pretty good at covering the basics and includes short videos that illustrate the use of the touch features.
Performing Admin Tasks
Microsoft has moved all of the system administration stuff to new locations. In my limited experience, it is best to log out of the user account and into the admin account to perform administration tasks rather than switching from the user user to the admin user. When switching, all of the user environment processes remain active but their windows are not shown. These active processes can interfere with the management tasks.
Those Pesky Preferences
Lifehacker describes those pesky privacy settings on this page.
Basically, Microsoft has chosen to do some things like URL auto-completion and URL suggestion centrally in your Microsoft ID support back at the mother ship. Some of these things are also integrated with Cortana. When you make a request to Cortana, she uses context kept at the mother ship to assist you with your inquiry. Using these features sends some information to Microsoft which it accumulates. The troublesome bit is that Microsoft “shares context with trusted partners” without telling you who those partners are or what the relationship is. Could the NSA ba a Microsoft partner? The FBI? Amazon? Your imagination is as good as mine.
Fortunately, most of them can be tuned down. The Lifehacker article tells you where these settings are and gives some guidelines for adjusting them.
Windows 10 has moved most of the process navigation into the Windows Pane, the Tiles Pane, and the Apps Pane which is below the Tiles Pane. They’ve kept the best of the old and borrowed from Apple’s Launch Pad. These new metaphors are an improvement over the old menu of menus of programs.
It all starts at the Windows icon
The home screen has a Windows icon in the lower left corner. Clicking this icon raises a the primary dialog. The lower left has an abbreviated traditional menu that opens the file manager, and a few other key items. Above that is a list of frequently used items. To the right an array of application tiles appears. The lower menu bar functions similar to the Mac OS X dock. Icons representing each active user process open here.
Get Started and Settings
Settings in the menu and Get Started in the most used list are the places to go to customize the user’s Windows 10 experience. The Get Started pane brings up an extensive table of tutorials including video that introduce you to Windows 10. These are very well organized and helpful. This replaces the butt ugly help and Clippy.
Microsoft’s privacy statement is now in plain language. Settings -> Privacy has a number of pages that control each feature. Most feature clusters have a master switch plus application switches much like in IOS settings. The master switch enables the service for all. The app switches enable access to the service for individual programs that have registered for access to the service. It’s really clear. There’s just a lot of it so you can enable information sharing for selected preferred services and turn it off for the majority of applications on the machine.