When most people think of Microsoft Windows, the first (and likely only) thing that comes to mind is the desktop. Basically, it’s a place where you click icons that launch programs or open files. Sadly, they miss many of Windows best features simply because they are unaware that they exist. Despite comments to the contrary (mostly by Apple Fanboys and Linux nerds…bless their hearts), Windows 10 is a robust, secure, and user-friendly operating system with a plethora of exciting capabilities.
Start with the Start button. That’s that little button that usually resides at the bottom left hand corner of the screen and looks like this.
That little button is actually a window (terrible pun intended) to a powerful configuration, information, and launch tool. Clicking on the Start button opens a highly configurable and sophisticated menu. On the far left column, there are shortcuts for important folders, settings, and the shutdown/restart button. The second column contains a list of every program loaded onto your computer in alphabetical order. This is often a useful place to access infrequently used programs rather than cluttering your desktop with their icons. The third column (if you can call it that) is a configurable region in which you can place your most important programs and informational panes (weather, news, etc.). You can drag and drop just about every program in the second column into this region.
Windows also includes a suite of programs that, for the casual user, are probably sufficient to cover many of their computing needs. For example, Windows includes a robust calculator that can handle a wide variety of common needs from basic arithmetic to advanced math and a wide variety of converters from currency to weights and measures (invaluable if you are a metric system klutz like me). It also includes mail, calendar, drawing, news, painting, photo editing, messaging, mapping, and a host of other productivity programs ‘out of the box’. While these are not the most robust applications in their class, for many users, they are more than adequate to meet most of their needs. The best part is that if you own a Windows 10 system, they are all part of the package.
Beyond productivity applications (I’m really resistant to calling them apps), Windows offers solid security that, for most users, is more than adequate and eliminates the need for third party programs such as Norton, Kaspersky, or McAfee (these are all over hyped and, in my opinion, largely worthless programs). Set up correctly (and Windows guides you through this very simple process), Windows will automatically scan for and protect your computer from viruses and other malware. I’ve been using Windows Defender (now Windows Security) for several years with no issues.
Windows even has its own voice assistant, Cortana. I’ll admit that I do not use this feature, but it appears to be reasonably functional and, for most users, is similar to Google’s voice assistant or Apple’s Siri. Ask it for directions and she’ll provide them. Need a recipe, ask Cortana. Cortana is closely integrated with Microsoft’s Edge Browser and thus brings up another free feature. If you are comfortable with Edge, you don’t need to download Google Chrome (the most popular browser). Edge provides a browsing experience comparable to Chrome or Safari (for Mac users). While I use Chrome for my internet activity, Edge seems perfectly capable.
Finally, Windows helps you find all these features and much more. Right next to the Start Button, there is a search field. Just type a word or question and Windows gives you an answer. If you want to save some text notes, type notepad in the search box and you are presented with a shortcut. The same is true for just about any feature of Windows. If you want to grab part of a screen for a presentation, type ‘snip’ and the Windows snipping tool appears. Want to create a voice recording, type voice recorder. If you want to launch a program, just type its name (or say it if you want to use Cortana).
Windows has evolved over the decades into an extraordinary productivity tool. It is worth your time and effort to learn and master its features. When working with clients, we spend a significant amount of time teaching them how to get the most out of Windows. The efficiency improvements caused by this training often generate some of the highest ROI for our efforts. So, I guess Windows is more than just a place where you click on icons and launch programs.
If you want your business to get more out of the most common program you own, get in touch with us and we’ll help you open windows to efficiency (another horrible pun…sorry).
Allen Friedman is the owner and CEO of Techaerus LLC, an office efficiency consulting firm. He is also a licensed attorney. Allen founded and managed one of the largest consumer collections law firms in the country and managed over 50 attorneys as well as hundreds of non-attorney staff. Prior to founding that firm, he opened and managed the New York and Michigan operations for the largest consumer collections firm in the United States. Throughout his career, Allen has always placed great emphasis on ensuring that investments in office technology provide the greatest possible returns. In order to achieve these returns, he focuses on three pillars of office management; asset management, training, and automation. His expertise includes document/image management, software and hardware integration, training, and process management and automation. Allen lives in Scottsdale, Arizona with his wife Amy, his children Cassidy and Gideon, and two adorable dogs named Roxie (a labradoodle) and Bentley (an Old English Sheepdog).