Why is Windows 10 special?
Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest operating system introduced in 2015. Windows 10 is not just another operating system succeeding Windows 8.1 but is Microsoft’s first attempt to create a Windows platform getting updated continuously and enriched with new features instead of focusing on the next operating system a few years later. Windows 10 is here to stay, and if you have not jumped on the Windows 10 wagon until now, this post will convince you otherwise. In this guide, I will provide you with valuable information on how to get started with Windows 10 for both beginners and more experienced users. Windows 10 is cross-compatible across many devices. Whether you are using a PC, smartphone, or tablet, Windows 10 will automatically adjust to the device it is being used on. This is something that previous Windows OS could not do, and Microsoft understood the necessity of having an OS compatible with more devices than just the regular PC. Microsoft also adopted the “Windows as a service” mentality just like Apple does with their Macintosh OS or Linux. By going that route, they can offer a much more polished OS to their users in comparison to continually moving from one OS to the next and starting all over again.
Configuring Windows 10 for the first time
By purchasing a new laptop, Windows 10 should be included in the price and already be activated. You can check whether your Windows license is enabled by heading over to the small icon in the down right corner and then click on “All Settings<Update&Security<Activation” where you should be able to see the activation status as well as which version you have installed. For most users, either “Home” or “Pro” will be displayed.
For a quick and easy guide on how to download and install Windows 10 for free, check out this link.
Should your Windows copy not be activated, you can get a genuine Windows 10 key by clicking HERE.
Follow these ten simple steps to get started with Windows 10 immediately:
1. Activate Windows 10
Once you purchase your valid Windows 10 license, check the e-mail address you entered during the purchase and find your Windows 10 key. Copy the key and head over to “All Settings<Update&Security<Activation<Change Product Key.” Once you click on it, Windows prompts you to enter a 20-digit product key. Simply paste your copied Windows 10 and click “Next.” Congratulations, you now have a genuine Windows 10 license. If you purchased a Windows 10 Home copy, you can update to Windows 10 Pro by buying a Pro key and repeating the procedure.
2. Configuring Privacy Settings
Configuring Windows 10 privacy settings is a step you should do, 99% of users entirely ignore. Windows 10 allows you to tweak the privacy settings to your liking. Privacy settings are split into two categories: “Windows permissions” and “App permissions.” With Windows permissions, you can choose what information you want Windows 10 to collect about you, whether you wish personalized ads and content in your native language (in case you do not use English as your primary language), as well as speech services and typing suggestions. App permissions refer to how much you allow apps to access your private information and what services you intend to use. Bear in mind that by turning everything off, some apps may not work. Tweaking the settings will take some time to find the right balance between what information you allow Windows 10 to collect and what restrictions you aim to apply. I only recommend changing Privacy settings if you are not satisfied with what information Microsoft has access to. If you do not mind, leave the settings untouched. I always configure the Privacy settings early on so I do not forget about it later.
3. Personalization & System Settings
Next step is to set up your personalization and system settings. Head over to the settings menu and click on “Personalization.” From there you can alter your Windows background, colors, fonts and themes. By clicking on “Start<Choose which folders appear on Start” you can tab and untab which folders appear on the Start menu which you can access by clicking on the Windows icon in the down left corner. I usually choose “Downloads, Music, Videos, Pictures, and Settings” but that is ultimately subjective. Back in the Windows 10 settings menu again, click on “System.” This will lead you to a bunch of configurable settings. Most of them are not important. However, the “Power & Sleep” tab is very important. Click on it, and you will be welcomed by two options, “Screen” and “Sleep.” “Screen” is how much time passes before your screen goes dark if you are not using your PC or laptop. Choose whatever time suits you best. “Sleep” is where I recommend choosing “Never” as it can negatively impact your PC’s functionality because hibernation and sleep mode can cause your PC or laptop to hang. That is why turning off hibernation and sleep mode is what I insist you should do. Let us see how this can be done:
On the right side, you will see an option “Additional power settings”. Once you click it, you will move over to a more detailed power options menu reminiscent of Windows 7. If you are running your OS on a Samsung SSD (which you should, by the way, they are by far the best SSDs), you will see a “Samsung High Performance” setting. Click it. This will optimize Windows 10 performance to run on your Samsung SSD optimally.
If you have not been convinced of the value of SSD drives and how they will make your old laptop shine again, check out this link.
For all other users choose the power plan shown as “High Performance”. This will tell Windows 10 to get the most out of your system at any given time. With “Balanced” you give Windows 10 the option to adjust power consumption according to different power scenarios while “Power Saver” should only be enabled if you are running low on laptop battery and need to get that article or post finished but you do not have the charger with you (bad idea). One additional crucial step is to click on “Choose what the power buttons do” and then on “Change settings that are currently unavailable.” This enables the shutdown settings below. Untab all four settings. Fast startup, hibernate, sleep and lock are the causes of many problems, and the only possible shutdown options you want are restart and shutdown. Once done, click on “Save Changes.” To ensure that your settings have been taken over, click on the Windows icon<“Power” and you should only see “Restart” and “Shutdown.”
4. Windows Update & Microsoft Store
Before updating your Windows 10 and apps, ensure that you have a quick and stable internet connection. To update Windows 10, head over to the Settings menu once again (you can access it either by the down right corner or through the Windows Icon<Settings which we did earlier). Click on “Update&Security<Windows Update<Check for Updates”. Let it run for as long as it takes. Windows 10 will download and apply the necessary updates and then prompt you to restart your system.
Windows 10 has not abandoned the availability of Windows apps introduced by Windows 8.1 in 2013. To download apps click on the Microsoft store icon which can be found by default at the taskbar or through the Windows icon on the down left. Click on the three dots in the upper right corner and choose “Downloads and updates<Get updates.” Let it run alongside with Windows updates to save you time and restart your system . Microsoft Store will download many apps by default. Click on the “X” button to delete apps you do not want and save you some extra time before moving on to the next step. Once both downloads are finished, restart your device.
5. Download Google Chrome, Adobe Flash Player, and Java
Windows 10 has its own refurbished browser, called “Microsoft Edge,” the long-awaited successor of Internet Explorer. While it is fast and does its job well, I still prefer Google Chrome for multiple reasons like browser plug-ins and extensions. Of course, Firefox is a great alternative, too. Download your browser of choice through Microsoft Edge. Once downloaded, fire it up and use it to download two mandatory programs: Adobe Flash Player and Java, both of which are obligatory to run applications like Youtube and videos in general. One additional program I always tend to install is “Winrar” since most programs and drivers you download come in the .rar format needing to get unzipped.
6. Setting up your Windows 10 menu
If you are fond of using the new Windows menu, you can do it rapidly. Fire up the Windows 10 menu by clicking on the Windows 10 icon in the down left corner. The first thing you will see is a bunch of pre-installed apps in the form of images. You can add, remove, shrink or enlarge those icons and customize them the way you want them to. Just right-click on any icon, and you will be granted with a variety of choices. On the left, you can see all your installed programs in alphabetical order while your most recently added programs are visible on the top left. Hover over the top right of your Windows menu, and two lines will be revealed to you. There you can name or rename your Windows menu. If you want more tiles to show up in Windows menu get to the “Settings Menu<Personalization<Start<and enable “Show more tiles on Start.”
7. Set up your Antivirus protection
Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender pre-installed, but I would still advise you to download and install something that protects your programs and personal information better. The optimal combination is one Antivirus program in conjunction with an Anti-malware program for optimal security. I use Avast Premier and Malwarebytes Premium, they work for me just fine. Choose whatever fits you best.
8. Install all necessary drivers
The first thing you need to do after setting up everything else is head over to your laptop’s manufacturer website or motherboard’s website for custom PCs and download all the latest drivers. Utilities like Driver Booster or Driver Easy can help find the appropriate drivers for you. Just remember that the drivers provided by the manufacturer on their website are designed to work with your device. In case you have an old laptop that is not officially compatible with Windows 10, and no new drivers are available, skip the first part and merely download those two utilities which will figure out the best drivers for your laptop compatible with Windows 10.
9. Install your programs, apps, and games
Once finished with all the steps mentioned above, it is finally time to install your favorite programs, apps, and games. The only thing to keep in mind is whatever you install, never choose the recommended installation settings because many programs come in combination with other programs that you not only need but also can harm your computer’s performance. If you have troubles with an unwanted browser tab or are bombarded with annoying ads, chances are you have downloaded something that you were not aware of attached to a program that you downloaded. Always choose custom settings and look for additional programs that are going to be installed with the program that you want and unclick them. It will save you time and frustration.
10. For optimal start-up speed, choose your downloaded programs to not open up along with Windows 10
This is a seriously overlooked step and affects the start-up of your computer dramatically. While high-end computers will not observe any issues older laptops and even those with SSDs will benefit from closing down programs on start-up. In the end, why would you want to start every program and deal with annoying pop-ups of programs you do not need when initiating your computer or laptop?
- Windows Task Manager
Closing unwanted programs on start-up are pretty straightforward. The first thing you need to do is open the Windows Task Manager by hitting “CTRL+LEFT SHIFT+ESC” simultaneously. The Task Manager should appear. Next, click on the “Startup” tab where you should see a plethora of installed programs. Under “Status” you can see which programs are enabled or disabled. By default, Windows 10 enables all programs. Click on each program you want to disable on start-up and hit “Disable.” If you need certain programs on start-up, leave them enabled. Under “Start-up impact” you can see how much those programs affect PC boot times. What I usually do is leave my Antivirus, VPN (if you use one) and audio settings enabled and disabled everything else.
- System Configuration
System configuration lets you dive more into various settings of your system. For now, we only want to disable additional start-up services which cannot be configured from the Task Manager. To enter System Configuration, right-click on the Windows icon and choose “Run.” Enter “msconfig” which will open the System Configuration menu. Click on the “Services” tab. Important here is to choose “Hide all Microsoft services” at the down left corner as those are crucial for the operation of Windows 10 and you do not want to mess with them. Once you have done that you will see the available services and the status of those services. You can also see two tabs “Enable all” and “Disable all.” While you can click on Disable all, I recommend going through each and disabling them manually. Many services like Antivirus or Bluetooth services, you want them to operate in the background. After disabling them, hit “Apply” and “OK” and restart your computer.
PC Gaming Optimization Guide
Your computer will run perfectly now. These are just things everyone should do after installing Windows 10 for the first time. If you are a gamer, check out my PC Gaming Optimization Guide to get the most frames out of your system. The PC Gaming optimization guide should be applied after configuring your Windows 10 installation.
Support for Windows 7 has been officially abandoned
Windows 7 was (and to some degree still is) the most popular Windows version after Windows XP that many of you still use today. In 2015, when Windows 10 expansion begun, many users were skeptical about taking on Windows 10 as their primary OS. Back then, Windows 10 was indeed plagued by many bugs and unfinished details, and you would be far better off using Windows 7 until those issues had been taken care of. Nowadays, however, we see a much more polished and optimized version of Windows 10 worth adopting. Not only is Windows 10 more straightforward to use than Windows 7 and lighter (only XP tops Windows 10 in this regard) and has a bunch of features necessary for gamers like DX12 support but Windows 7 has now been officially abandoned by Microsoft who no longer roll out updates for their favorite OS. Not changing to Windows 10 at this point might expose you to vulnerabilities and security issues. If you have been hesitant about using Windows 10, now is the time to upgrade your operating system.
Windows 10 is a great operating system widely adopted by millions of users worldwide. While it is easy to use and lightweight even on older laptops which do not officially support Windows 10, I have never encountered any issues installing Windows 10 on older hardware. Three years after its release, Windows 10 is in its best state ever and should not cause you much trouble. Problems may occur, however, like slow boot times or BSOD due to missed updates and a slow OS overall if you do not know how to apply the ten simple steps I mentioned above. These are guidelines I use every time someone asks me to install, activate and configure their Windows 10 installation. I also use them every time I reinstall my own OS. I could get into more details on customization options and extend the length of this article, but I wanted to provide you an overview of just the essential steps on how to get started with Windows 10 quickly and efficiently.
Should you have any trouble applying those steps, leave a comment below, and I will be more than happy to help you out. Is there something important I forgot to mention? Let me know and I will add it as soon as possible.
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