As Microsoft recently announced at Ignite, windows 10 is now running on 400 million devices worldwide . This ranges from the typical desktop PCs and laptops to handheld devices like the Lumia 950, tablets, and convertibles and even gaming consoles such as the XBOX One . At the end of July 2016, Microsoft concluded its worldwide free upgrade to Windows 10 for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, leaving a massive gap between its current user base Microsoft’s 1 billion goal within a few years.

Uncertainty about some of the new features and interface are a big part of what’s holding users back from embracing Windows 10. Over the years, users have come to know and love Windows 7―it is the most popular Windows OS, after all―and the transition to Windows 10 can be jarring. While Microsoft has gone to great lengths to make Windows 10 familiar to Windows 7 users, there are a few key features and functions that are significantdepartures from previous releases. These changes, however, can be good once you become familiar with them. In this tutorial, we’ll help you do just that: we’ll decipher some of that initial confusion and hopefully ease your migration to the new version of Windows so you can get the most out of all this OS has to offer.

Getting Started with Windows 10 for Windows 7 Users

Windows 10 is a client operating system available in several editions . What does that mean? It means that Microsoft has committed to delivering the operating system as a service. The traditional idea of shrink-wrapped upgrades every two to three years is no more. Since its launch in July of 2015, Microsoft has released two major updates: the November Update, Windows 10 1511 and Windows 10 Anniversary Update , issued on August 1, 2016. The next major release currently in development―codenamed, Redstone 2―continues to refine Windows 10, while adding innovations focused on user education, new hardware technologies, services, apps, and security.

Logging On to Windows 10

The old username and/or password logon routine has been a familiar song and dance for Windows users for more than 20 years, dating back to Windows XP, Vista, and Windows 2000. Windows 10 still supports this username/password option but now it’s called aLocal Account, because there is also a new way to log on. In Windows 10, the terminology used is signing in . This is because Windows 10 can utilize an email address tied to a Microsoft Account to authenticate on Windows. Examples of a Microsoft Account include addresses that use the,, or domains. Users in corporate environments can also use their work address to sign into Windows 10. Using a Microsoft Account to sign in is not required but strongly encouraged by Microsoft.

Tutorial: The Window 7 User’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Windows 10

When you start a computer running Windows 10, you are first greeted by the lock screen image, which can change dynamically. If you don’t like seeing this picture, you can turn it off by clicking Start > Settings > Personalization > Lock screen, then toggle off Show lock screen background picture on the sign-in screen.

Tutorial: The Window 7 User’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Windows 10

The benefits of a Microsoft Account include the ability to secure your device using two-factor authentication , manage family time on the device, and sync personal files and settings with other devices you own running Windows 10. A Microsoft Account is also used to download applications and games from the Windows Store .

There are multiple ways to sign into Windows 10; you can use your traditional username and password, but you can also use a PIN. A PIN only consists of fournumbersand is much easier to remember. You can also use what is called a picture password, where you click or touch areas of an image known only to you. If you have a supported device, you can use Microsoft’s facial recognition technology (called “Windows Hello”) to sign into Windows 10.

Tutorial: The Window 7 User’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Windows 10
Desktop Environment

Users coming from Windows 7 will notice Windows 10’s user interface is a bit different. It features sharper edges and more focus on text and notifications. This appearance evolved out of the Metro Design language first introduced in Windows 8 in 2012. Over the past five years, Microsoft has toned down some of the mobile-centric elements of Modern UI and reintroduced familiar experiences such as floating app windows and more keyboard and mouse support. The Start menu includes frost transparency which is reminiscent of the Aero Glass theme introduced in Windows Vista. Windows 10 includes numerous customization options, too.

Related Article: Encrypt a USB Flash Drive In Windows 8

After you sign into Windows 10, you are greeted by a familiar desktop. Unlike Windows 7, Windows 10 does not contain Sidebar Gadgets, first introduced in Windows Vista. Functionality once available in Sidebar Gadgets can be accessed on demand in various places throughout the Windows 10 user interface, such as theStart menu app tiles,Task Manager, andAction Center notifications. Functionality unique to gadgets, such as the CPU and Memory monitor, for instance, can be accessed through the Task Manager Performance tab, which provides greater details about the input/output performance of your system.

You can quickly open theAction Center by pressing Windows key + A to review tweets, system notifications, and upcoming calendar events . The Action Center can also help you quickly adjust system settings, such as screen brightness andbattery lifeor add a second display monitor , enable airplane mode or access a host of other functions.

Tutorial: The Window 7 User’s Guide to Getting the Most Out of Windows 10
Taskbar and Start Menu Just like Windows 7, the taskbar works the same, and you can customize it just the same, too. In Windows 10, the Taskbar includes a

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