Windows 10

You may have seen the commercials, or read the hype on the internet about Microsoft's new operating system. I'll try to give you a little perspective on Windows 10 and what it means for you.

Windows 7

The version of Windows you use at work is Windows 7. It is efficient at running your computer, and has just the right amount of bells and whistles to keep you working without getting in your way. It has everything you know and love about Windows, and has all of the familiar elements you've come to expect.

Windows 8

Windows 8 (and later, 8.1) was released a few years ago, but was not popular among consumers. Too many familiar parts of Windows were manipulated beyond recognition to make way for the "Metro UI," a new look of sorts for the tablet generation of systems. With the release of the Surface line of tablets and laptop hybrids, Microsoft tried to change their flagship operating system to appease all crowds, and instead left a lot of desktop consumers alienated.

Microsoft wanted to appease those consumers with a compromise, and they called it Windows 8.1. But it wasn't enough.

Windows 10

Since the number eight left such a bad taste in the mouths of Windows users, Microsoft decided to skip "9" and head straight for "10." (Is there a "seven ate nine" joke in there somewhere?) Windows 10 is visually appealing, brings back familiar Windows elements, and adds new features that are more common in today's world. Even if you didn't like Windows 8, you should definitely give 10 a chance.

After the success of Apple's voice-activated assistant Siri, Microsoft decided to make a version of their own. Using a character from one of their own video games, Cortana was built into the newest version of their operating system. Cortana gives you all sorts of relevant information throughout your day, using all of the information on your computer and the internet.

What's caused the most concern about Windows 10 is the question of privacy. In order for Cortana to "serve you," she has to gain access to your e-mail, calendar, files, and other private information. She also tracks your physical whereabouts.

Anyone with concern for their own safety and privacy may hesitate before granting access to such information to a virtual assistant. Obviously, Cortana can't be much of an assistant without this information. She can't remind you of an appointment without access to your calendar, and she can't recommend a restaurant for lunch if she doesn't know where you are. But these privacy settings are certainly worth reading the fine print before allowing Cortana full access.

Other than that, Windows 10 is more or less a very "pretty" version of Windows 7. The start menu has tiles, and there is a new notification center with notices and alerts, the same information your cell phone is likely to tell you. And the best part is the price tag, or the lack of one until next summer.

By now your home computer has probably asked you to update to Windows 10, and hopefully I've given you enough information to go forward with your decision.