– Ben Martens


Office 16

powerqueryexcel2016The next version of Office is now public. “But Ben, I already have Office and I hate buying new copies of it.” Never fear! Do you have an Office 365 subscription? If so then you get this upgrade for FREE. And if you don’t have a subscription, this is a good reason to consider it. Unless you have a single computer in your house and you never upgrade Office, the subscription is a great deal. You get five installs with free upgrades, 1TB on One Drive, and some other perks for  100/year. There’s no more worrying about whether or not the upgrade is worth it for you. Pretty slick!

I normally don’t get too worked up about Office upgrades, but I’m really excited about Excel 2016. You may remember that I spent the vast majority of my time at Microsoft on Power Query and the projects that led up to it. Power Query now ships as a core feature of Excel 2016! Click the Data tab and look in the “Get & Transform” section. It’s awesome to have my code running on hundreds of millions (or billions?) of desktops. I know that it’s not a feature that most people will use, but it’s still cool to be included.

Windows 10 Notification

If you’re running Windows 7 or Windows 8, you may be noticing a new notification down by your system clock. It gives you the option to update to Windows 10, reserve your copy, etc. What is that all about?

Windows 10 is going to be released on July 29. For the first year, it will be a free upgrade for existing Windows users and it sounds like this might be the “last version” of Windows 10. That probably means that they’re just going to keep updating Windows without having major version releases and it probably also means that the future updates will be free. I don’t know how firmly any of that is decided or announced though.

If you’re really interested, you can get it now. I’ve been running it on one of my extra machines at work and it’s just fine. However, even though they say they’re getting finished with the final production code, PLEASE remember that if you upgrade early, you’re potentially putting your sanity at risk. Personally, I won’t put pre-release software on any critical machine and for me that, that means my main home and work computers, my phone or anything that Tyla uses. The cons far outweigh the pros in my book, but you can decide for yourself. The odds are that it will work fine for you.

The Windows 10 update notification also gives you the option to “reserve” your copy of Windows 10. It appears that this just sets a flag to download Windows 10 in the background and then notify you once it’s ready later in July. I’ve done this on most of my machines and it’s probably a good idea unless you’re super paranoid. For example, I’m not doing this on our main file server. I’ll wait a month or two before upgrading that one.

The new features in Windows 10 are pretty nice. You can easily find articles about them on the web, but here are a few:

  • The start button is back and it brings up a start menu that looks more like Windows 7. I think that on a tablet you might still get the full screen Windows 8 style start menu, but otherwise, it will look more like what you had before. (At least that’s the default, I think you can change it to Windows 8 style all the time if you love it.)
  • Cortana is in your PC now. You can ask her questions straight from your desktop and get answers from your local computer, the web, etc. You can tell her to do things like “move my appointment from 4pm to 5pm” or “remind me in 20 minutes to check the oven.” It’s pretty convenient on the phone so hopefully it will translate well to the computer.
  • There’s a new web browser called “Edge”. Internet Explorer will still be there but it won’t be the main browser. Edge is more comparable to Chrome and Firefox (in good ways) so expect a faster browsing experience and better security.
  • There have been some cool announcements about plugging your phone into your computer and using your keyboard and mouse with the phone that is now displaying on the screen as well as some announcements about interactions with an Xbox. I haven’t dug too deeply but I’m interested.

To sum it up, everyone should update to Windows 10 but you can wait until later this summer to do it. Just make sure you do it before next summer or else you might have to pay for the privilege.