Posey's Tips & Tricks
What Changes Should Microsoft Make to Windows 10?
Here are three Windows 10 features that are more like bugs, and one suggestion for a feature that might not have occurred to Microsoft yet.
Windows 10 has been around for a while now, and overall I think that Windows 10 is one of the best desktop operating systems that Microsoft has ever made.
As with anything else, though, it isn't perfect. There are some things that Microsoft could do differently that would, in my opinion, make for a better overall experience. Some of these suggestions are simply personal pet peeves, whereas others are suggestions that would improve security or reduce the potential for data loss.
Stop with the Unwanted Reboots
By far my single biggest issue with Windows 10 is the automatic reboots associated with the update process. I know that the only way to keep Windows secure is by applying periodic updates. Those updates are important; I get it. But how about giving the end user more control over the update process?
Sure, there are ways of preventing updates from being applied automatically, and I have even written a column explaining how to stop an impending reboot. But would it really be such a bad thing to display a simple dialog box that says, "Do you want to reboot now -- yes or no"? If there is concern that end users will never reboot their PCs, it would be easy enough to create a group policy setting that hides the dialog box, but let's make rebooting optional by default.
In case you are wondering, there are a couple of different reasons why I find the automatic reboots to be problematic. First, it's bad for productivity. It's disruptive to have to stop working on whatever I happen to be doing at the moment, and wait for updates to be applied.
The bigger reason why I don't like automatic reboots is that they cause data loss. I appreciate the fact that Microsoft has designed the Edge browser to reopen browser tabs following a reboot, and Office usually does a good job of taking you back to what you were working on just before the reboot. However, I have experienced reboot-related data loss on more than one occasion. The most recent example of this was when an unwanted reboot caused me to lose a list of my writing assignments for the month.
Most of my assignments come in by e-mail. I typically copy the relevant details to Notepad in an effort to compile a list of what I need to write. Normally, I add items to the list as those items arrive in my inbox. This month, however, I was traveling heavily so when I got home, I had to go through all of my messages to figure out which ones contained assignments. It was a long and tedious process that took a couple of hours.
Eventually, I took a break so that I could go get dinner. When I returned a couple of hours later, I found that my PC had rebooted while I was gone and I had lost everything that I had typed into Notepad as a result of the reboot. Worse yet, all of those items in my inbox were now marked as read, so there was no easy way of telling which messages were likely to contain assignments. I ended up spending the rest of the evening recreating the assignment list.
Leave the Start Menu Alone
Another improvement that I would like to see made to Windows 10 is for Microsoft to leave the Start menu alone. No, I'm not talking about Microsoft removing the Start menu in Windows 8 and then eventually bringing it back. I'm talking about Microsoft seemingly attempting to monetize Windows 10 by placing unwanted items on the Start menu.
The Start menu exists for the purpose of launching applications or accessing settings. I should not have to be subjected to ads for Office 365 or other services while I am attempting to launch an application, and I definitely do not appreciate updates reinstalling apps such as Travel or Money that I have intentionally uninstalled.
And do we really need to clutter the Start menu with app suggestions? Incidentally, there is an option in Settings to prevent suggestions from being shown in the Start menu.
Stop Treating Local Storage as an Afterthought
Lately I can't help but get the feeling that Microsoft wants you to forget that your PC has local storage, and to save everything to OneDrive.
Maybe that doesn't apply to every aspect of the Windows operating system, but in at least some places Windows and Office are a little bit overzealous with trying to encourage OneDrive use. In my case, for example, clicking "Save As" within Word causes three different instances of OneDrive to be displayed before (above) the option to save the document to the local computer.
I realize that there are benefits to saving documents to the cloud, and that there are ways of modifying default document locations, but it would be great to have an easy and intuitive way of turning off OneDrive for those who do not want to use it.
How About a Sandboxed Browser?
OK, I think that I have spent enough time ranting about pet peeves with the Windows operating system. In spite of these and a few other minor annoyances, I really do think that Windows 10 is a good OS. So here is a suggestion to make it even better.
One thing that I would love to see in Windows is a lightweight virtual machine (VM) that can act as a secure, sandboxed environment for Web browsing. Such an environment would do wonders for malware prevention, especially if the operating system used snapshots to automatically reset the environment to a pristine state each time the VM is rebooted.
Some Windows 10 editions come with Hyper-V and it is relatively easy to create your own sandboxed browsing environment, but it would be really cool if there were a Control Panel option to enable a preexisting, hardened VM that exists solely for sandboxed browsing.
Brien Posey is a 16-time Microsoft MVP with decades of IT experience. As a freelance writer, Posey has written thousands of articles and contributed to several dozen books on a wide variety of IT topics. Prior to going freelance, Posey was a CIO for a national chain of hospitals and health care facilities. He has also served as a network administrator for some of the country's largest insurance companies and for the Department of Defense at Fort Knox. In addition to his continued work in IT, Posey has spent the last several years actively training as a commercial scientist-astronaut candidate in preparation to fly on a mission to study polar mesospheric clouds from space. You can follow his spaceflight training on his Web site.