Windows 10 Report Card for the Studio
By Anderton |
Windows 10 Report Card for the Studio
So should you upgrade from Windows 7 or not? Here's one person's report card
by Craig Anderton
A while ago I decided to take a leap of faith and go "all in" on Windows 10 for my studio computer—yes, even with an always-on net connection, and checking the "sure, I don't mind sending you user feedback" box. I even did an in-place install over Windows 7 rather than wipe my hard drive clean, so this was some serious living on the edge. And now, here's the report card on 10 subjects for Windows 10.
Making it tablet-friendly has also made the interface generally more obvious and simple. I'd give it a 5 if there was the option to turn on Aero, although to be fair even though I thought I'd miss that gorgeous glassy look, I haven't.
MIDI improvements: B+ (and maybe even A)
MIDI being multi-client is huge—it means a single MIDI application doesn't hog the computer. But if they fixed the MIDI port limitation (and so far, I haven't encountered that limitation, so it may have been fixed) then it's an A.
Groove Music: B
I was going to give this Microsoft version of iTunes an F because the last time I tried to use it, album song orders were alphabetical. Seriously? But I tried it again and—let’s hear it for the “rolling updates,” because now the song orders are correct. And it’s showing album art, which I don’t remember seeing before. The only reason it didn’t get an A is because it’s very oriented toward organizing your music collection on a computer, not easy auditioning of individual audio files, like us audio types need to do.
Handling of in-app purchases: A
This was a big surprise. I expected an onslaught of "Like your 1 GB cloud storage? Get 50 GB for only $1.99 a month!!" notifications, but Microsoft has been surprisingly restrained. Maybe they're just laying low until everyone has converted to Windows 10, but so far, so good.
Default music file format choice: A
Microsoft has jettisoned Windows Media Audio (which was actually quite good, but couldn’t compete with the iPod’s format of choice) and decided that FLAC will be its main squeeze for an audio format. Full fidelity, less space, none of the artifacts of MP3 or AAC…I’m in.
Native audio improvements: C+
Yes, Windows' native audio can have lower latency than before...but it’s not Core Audio or ASIO. However, it gets a + because my Windows DAWs run a little bit more smoothly with ASIO.
Making sound adjustments in the control panel: D
You want to change your default system audio device, so you go to Settings. Logical, right? But then you go to Personalization…uh, okay, and then…Themes? Yes, Themes, and then under Related Settings you’ll find Advanced Sound Settings. However, what kept the grade from going to D- is the ease of messing with the volume control, which is nice and obvious on the taskbar…and it doesn’t disappear mysteriously.
Update reliability: B+
I've experienced nothing nasty from updates except after one update, something strange seemed to happen with the USB ports. Or maybe it was poltergeists. Whatever, it went away after the next update that happened a couple days later, so I’ll blame Microsoft just for the heck of it because I’ll assume it was cause and effect.
Update notifications: F
It's actually worse than Windows 7, which at least had a parade of inscrutable characters telling you things were being updated. But then you'd turn on the computer and it would take forever to boot. Was the update successful? Was there a problem? Was it updating? Who knows...and that aspect remains. Now when a boot seems to take forever, I just go away for a while...have a snack or something so I don’t sit around nervously. There hasn't been a fail, but in Microsoft's desire to make updating transparent and in the background, they've instead managed to make me nervous by not putting up a message that says something like "Your computer is installing updates, please be patient."
Doing what Windows 8 was supposed to do: A
Those wretched metro apps have been replaced by a smart handling of tiles in the Start menu. We don’t have the musical equivalent of cool iPad apps to put in there yet, but at least there’s an environment for them that won’t make you want to throw your computer out the window.
Edge Browser: B+
Internet Exploder was an easy act to follow, but Edge is a major improvement and not just an incremental one. Although it still has a few rough edges—web pages that look fine in other browsers may have some anomalies—it’s a big step up, and feels likely to become even sleeker in the future.
And there you have it. Admittedly, Windows 7 was a seriously great operating system, which is why it stays rooted to many a C: drive. However. I’m glad I updated to Windows 10, which was without a doubt the most pain-free Windows update ever. After the Windows 8 fiasco (an OS I tried and immediately discarded), I was skeptical—but Windows 10 got it right.
Craig Anderton is Editorial Director of Harmony Central. He has played on, mixed, or produced over 20 major label releases (as well as mastered over a hundred tracks for various musicians), and written over a thousand articles for magazines like Guitar Player, Keyboard, Sound on Sound (UK), and Sound + Recording (Germany). He has also lectured on technology and the arts in 38 states, 10 countries, and three languages.