Microsoft make it easier AND more confusing in one stroke…

By | May 16, 2016
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Last time I mentioned that I’d be talking about something that might have confused you if you use Windows 10.  (And in a moment I’ll explain something that might have confused you on a phone or tablet, too – but Windows 10 first.)

Aside from the fact that it’s called Windows 10 – which came after Windows 8, of course. That’s pretty confusing.

But I’m talking about how you change various settings on your PC – from choosing display settings to deciding how long before it turns off the screen if you’re not using it to save power.

In old versions of Windows, you went into control panel to do this. Then looked around for the relevant option – which was sometimes obvious and sometimes took a bit more hunting – but at least you knew you were looking in the right place.

In Windows 10, though, there’s a new “Settings App” to do this. It’s designed to be easier and simpler to use.

By and large, I think they’ve succeeded. I think it probably is a bit easier to use.

So you’re probably thinking “Hang on a minute, Tim’s lost the plot here. He said it was something confusing in Windows 10 and now he’s saying that they’ve made it easier… How’s making it easier making it more confusing.”

Well, the snag is they have made the new Settings App easier… but it doesn’t quite do everything the old control panel did. Nearly, but not quite. So they’ve kept the old control panel as well.

Why they didn’t simply put everything into the new settings app… or at least include an option in it “click here for the more advanced bits”, I don’t know. But they didn’t.

So if you’re using Windows 10 and trying to change some setting or other, probably the best place to go to first is the settings app. To get to it you just go to the start menu, then select “Settings”.

But if you then can’t find whatever you’re after there, you might be best off looking in control panel. It’s a bit hidden away – you can find it in the start menu, in all apps, under W, in Windows System. Or it might be easier simply to type “control panel” into the search box at the bottom.

And with any luck, at some point, Microsoft will add the missing features to the Settings App and you won’t need both any more.

Why have I got two ways to browse the internet on my phone or tablet?
You might well know that you can use a few different programs on a PC to browse the web, depending on which one you like best. Microsoft’s Internet Explorer used to be the most common, but now they’ve replaced it with Edge on Windows 10. And some people prefer Google’s Chrome or Mozilla’s Firefox.

And in fact you can use different browsers on most tablets or phones, if you really want to.

But if you’ve ever spotted that your tablet or smartphone came with more than one different icon that lets you browse the web, you might have wondered why.

For example, I’ve recently got a new Samsung phone. It has the Google Chrome browser on it. But it has another one, with a blue picture of the world. If you use that one, it lets you browse the web in much the same way as Chrome – but it looks slightly different.

It’s mildly confusing – but in practice you can just use whichever you prefer. In the case of my phone there are two because one is Google’s Chrome, which comes with Android, which is the operating system the phone uses to work and the other is Samsung’s own browser, which they add on to their phones.

If you have more than one, don’t worry about which one you should use or if one is better than the other. They’ll both be fine. If you prefer one, use that. If you don’t mind (or can’t even spot the differences – I had to flick between the two I’ve got a couple of times before I could tell what was different) then just use which is in a more convenient place on the screen!

What Julie is up to with Windows 10…
I promised that I’d tell you what I’m working on – and who’s helping. Well, with Windows 10 becoming more popular (and if you want the free upgrade to it, you need to get it fairly soon), I’ve been updating the Next Steps on your PC and Next Steps on the Internet books to cover it.

They’ve been really popular books – they go a bit beyond Computers One Step at a Time to show you not just how to use your PC but also how to do some of the specific things most people want to do with their PC. In fact when I first wrote them I listed all the questions I used to get “How do I do this with my PC” and used that to help me know what to cover.

Anyway, as I went through them looking at what needed changing for Windows 10 I found myself thinking “I’d like to add so and so as well” and “I might change such and such”.

Since it was going to be quite a big job, I wanted to get someone to help… I’ve know a few editors who help me with things like this but they were all busy with other things. Luckily my wife, Julie, is an experienced writer and editor (in fact that’s how we first met, years ago, working on books about GCSE science for a different company, before I started writing about computers).

So as I type this, Julie’s hard at work, busy putting some of the finishing touches to the updated Windows 10 versions. We have a very good division of work – she does all the hard bits while I try to look like I’ve doing something useful and occasionally make tea.

They’re not available to order yet – but when they are, I’ll let you know and tell you a bit more about them. If you have Windows 10, it’s worth having a look.

17 thoughts on “Microsoft make it easier AND more confusing in one stroke…

  1. Ann

    My husband seems to be managing reasonably well with windows 10 so I thought I’d give it a shot and upgraded from Windows 7 to 10. Disaster! I lost a lot of my email folders. It was also confusing in other ways. I’ve gone back to Windows 7 and would really quite like to stay there although my husband says I soon won’t get any more updates. Does that really matter?
    I’m reasonably basic in my usage of it and can think of far better things to do than spend too much time on my laptop.
    For the same reason I haven’t yet mastered the navigation of Kindle Fire HD ( which my husband no longer wants, he now has an Amazon Fire) but I need to be in the mood to spend chunks of time on it. Technology is very useful BUT !!!
    I’m looking forward to receiving the books we ordered about navigating Androids Michael.
    Many thanks for the useful emails.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Hello
      you’ll still get the important updates to Windows 7 for a while – until January 2020. After that, Microsoft won’t be doing any updates, including security ones, and using the PC on the internet could be risky.
      Until then, it’s fine to use Windows 7 online if you’re happy with how it works. After that, I really wouldn’t recommend it.
      Hope that helps!
      Tim

      Reply
      1. Ann

        Thank-you. Yes it does help.. It looks like I’ll have to ‘try again’ but not just yet! Put off the evil day!!
        By that time I’ll be 86!

        Reply
  2. david Kay

    I have a Samsung Note 3 which I have restarted using since returning from Canada where I bought it

    If you issue a book on Samsung smart phones I’ll but it immediately!!

    Please can you do it? Or do you already have one If so tell me and I’ll buy it

    David Kay

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Hello
      we haven’t done one yet but we are currently looking into doing something on smartphones as I think a lot of people would find it useful… watch this space!
      Tim

      Reply
  3. George Raine

    Thank you. I’d been mulling over the Settings topic,and have already asked the vicar to tea to help. He used to be a physicist.
    Can’t make up my mind whether to replace W7 on my spare computer when the time runs out! We are all learning to live with Ten.
    George Raine

    Reply
  4. Sheila Ballisat

    Thanks, that was a great help. Having just changed to Windows 10, I had lost sound. Now I have found the Control Panel, it’s back!!

    Reply
  5. G.Shaverin

    Dear Tim, when I “upgraded” to Windows 10 on my laptop using the ” free” upgrade it was an utter disaster. ” It wasn’t me Guv ” – – it worked fine for about a week, then it went crazy, & finally it just WENT. It cost me £100 to have my computer retuned back to where I started, i.e Windows 7. Now I’m 80 years old & might have a shelf-life of say 5 years, & I’m very happy with W7, so my question is this – – – Do you think Microsoft will support W7 long enough to ‘see me out’ or MUST I change to W10 ? Kind regards, G.Shaverin. P.S Love your articles.

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Hello
      Microsoft are planning to support Windows 7 until January 2020 – until then you’re absolutely fine to stick with Windows 7. You could always wait until then and decide what to do, though you’d have missed the free upgrade (I don’t yet know how much it’ll cost once it’s not free).
      Anyway, hope that helps – at least you know when it will be safe until!
      I know we’ve got at least one customer who’s hit the big 100 so hopefully you have many years left!
      Tim

      Reply
    2. Ann

      WEll I’ve got less ‘shelf life’ as you put it. I beat you by 2 years. Age is only a word. Ignore it.
      When you bring out your windows 10 book Tim, then I shall upgrade from windows 7. Until then, like G Shaverin, I’m not giving them the chance to muck me up again.
      Many thanks.

      Reply
  6. Charles

    You should ALWAYS have more than one browser on laptop or desktop. Sometimes printing a page in one browser will not work but in the other will, which I have noticed in eBay and IE and Chrome. Same can be said for displaying pages, some work others don’t.

    Reply
  7. Barbara Horne

    I have given up using Windows 10 now and gone back to 7 on my main computer although I Had your booklets I find it too confusing for an 84-year-old lady although I have had lots of different computers
    since 1999 .
    As I now have bad eyesight I am dictating this into the microphone on the iPad , which I find easier
    I enjoy reading your newsletters thank you

    Reply
  8. John Collins

    I was using 7 home and downloaded W 10 about 4 months ago. It was ok at first but within a week I got all sorts of problems and it took ages to process certain files etc.
    It finally froze completely and my engineer tried everything he knew to get into the hard drive. Finally he took the machine away and had to change the hard drive as it had screwed it up .!!! Fortunately I had backed up everything before hand .backed the new drive up and all was well.
    Decided last week to have another shot and installed W 10 again and I’m pleased to say, no problem this time.
    So far I am very impressed as a lot of the changes are easier to use and much more logical in concept. Look like the best Windows so far but more time will tell .
    John

    Reply
  9. Ann

    It’s so good to learn there are quite a few octogenarians using PC’s and all Tim’s helpful info.

    “For age is opportunity no less
    Than youth itself, though in another dress,
    And as the evening twilight fades away
    The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
    Extract from Morituri Salutamis by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

    Reply
  10. Jill Jennings

    Hello Tim,
    Having spent several pounds on your clear books, photo instruction DVDs, Ancestry videos, etc., ( some of these were valid for 7 , Vista, or XP,) I was on 8.1,. Now I am hoping that as I am on Windows 10, all will be well. I have new technician helping me soon, having spent a fortune in the past with others of doubtful backgrounds as I could not speak the PC Jargon¬!!!

    dvds

    Reply
    1. Tim Post author

      Thanks of the kind comments! In my view Windows 10 is a bit easier to use than Windows 8.1, so I think you’ve got a good chance of getting well to grips with it! Incidentally (though you might already know this) I’m pretty sure some of the older disks will still play in Windows 10, so although the advice in them is aimed at an older version of Windows, some, like the Ancestry ones and to some extent the photo ones, it’s not so much about the version of Windows as about what you do with the computer – so you might still find them useful!
      Tim

      Reply

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