5 Windows 10 features that are better than what you had on Windows 7
Security, the start menu and Cortana all get updates in Windows 10.
Alison DeNisco RayomeManaging Editor
Managing Editor Alison DeNisco Rayome joined CNET in 2019, and is a member of the Home team. She is a co-lead of the CNET Tips and We Do the Math series, and manages the Home Tips series, testing out new hacks for cooking, cleaning and tinkering with all of the gadgets and appliances in your house. Alison was previously an editor at TechRepublic.
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Finally made the upgrade from Windows 7 to Windows 10? Hopefully the answer is yes, since
over a year ago, which means devices running that OS no longer get important updates or security patches. But never fear: Learning how to navigate
isn't too difficult, especially if you can pinpoint all of the big differences between the new OS and the older version.
From tighter security to a new browser, Windows 10 has a lot to offer. Here are some of the biggest feature updates in Windows 10, compared to Windows 7.
Windows 10's advanced security and continuous patches and updates are the top reason to switch to the latest version of the OS. Some of the best security features include:
Windows Hello: Software that uses facial recognition to unlock your machine using its webcam, as well as to unlock more than a dozen apps.
Microsoft Defender: The antivirus program and internet security software comes free with Windows 10.
Automatic updates: Unlike previous versions of the OS, Windows 10 offers automatic updates by default, to keep systems more secure. (You can turn these off if you want to, by going to Windows Update Settings > Advanced Options and changing from Automatic to another option in the drop-down menu.)
Hit the familiar Windows icon at the bottom left of the screen or on your keyboard to find a list of your desktop apps and programs. Similar to the Start menu in Windows 8, the Windows 10 Start menu includes live tiles -- large icons to the right of the Start menu including Mail, Calendar and Weather. You can customize these tiles with any app you like: Just open the Start menu, click All apps and find the app you want to make into a tile. Right-click it, and click Pin to Start. To remove a tile, right-click it and click Unpin from Start.
With Windows 10, you can also access a lesser-known second Start menu that helps you access important features like the Command Prompt, the Control Panel and the Task Manager much easier, either by pressing the Windows key + X or by right-clicking the Windows icon/Start button.
Microsoft's digital assistant Cortana is available on Windows 10 PCs. Cortana acts as a personal assistant -- similar to Apple's
-- and operates via voice command to help with tasks like scheduling and reading or summarizing your email.
Go to Start > Settings > Cortana to turn Cortana on and off, and control when and how you use the assistant. For example, toggle yes if you want Cortana to help when you say, "Hey Cortana," and yes if you want speech and typing personalization turned on, which helps the assistant get to know your patterns.
Unlike Windows 7, Microsoft continually updates Windows 10 to patch security issues and make the machines run better. This is part of Microsoft's move to make Windows operate more as a service, with continuous updates instead of a brand-new version.
To check for updates, go to Start > Settings > Update & Security, and under Windows Update, click Check for updates.
Major feature updates come twice a year, with the most recent being the October 2020 Update. This update added some new features like a new, streamlined Start menu and the ability to personalize your Taskbar. It also includes the new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge browser instead of the legacy version for the first time.
The upcoming Windows 10 Spring 2021 update will add a few more useful new features, and also set the stage for a larger Windows 10 UI update in the future.