Did you get a new Windows 10-based device over the recent holidays? Or maybe for a birthday or another special occasion during the course of the year?
No matter when you got that new hardware, getting started with the setup of Windows 10 might seem a bit daunting at first. However, we are here to help you out by making some suggestions for that process and some areas you should focus on to take full advantage of Windows 10.
Let’s get started with the setup of Windows 10.
Use a Microsoft Account with Windows 10
When you first hit the start button on your new device and it powered up, you were asked to sign in with your Microsoft Account or to create a Microsoft Account to use with Windows 10 and other Microsoft services.
If you did this – great! You will certainly have a much richer experience as you use Windows 10 because a Microsoft Account ties together the entire Microsoft ecosystem of services. There is also an option to only create a local account on the device and not use a Microsoft Account.
My recommendation, if you opted to use that local account, is to reconsider because of all the benefits you will gain in Windows 10 because of that account and how it toes everything together. If you are worried about privacy, which is always a valid concern, then you should read my last primer on Microsoft and Privacy because the company is now providing good tools like a Privacy Dashboard to help you monitor the info it collects with your permission.
If you set up a local account already you can easily convert that to a Microsoft Account by going to Windows Settings>Accounts>Sign-in options to switch over from the local account. You will be asked for your Microsoft Account credentials and the password for the local account you set up initially.
Check for Latest System Updates
Once you have your system done with the initial out-of-box process, head to Windows Settings>Update & Security>Windows Update to start the process of checking for and installing any pending updates for your new hardware.
Click the Check for updates button to begin. You can now close this window and continue with other activities on your computer until you are promoted to restart. If the update does not require a reboot of your system, you can continue with your work; otherwise, you may be prompted to restart your system once all of the available updates for your device are downloaded and installed.
Update Microsoft Store Apps
There are multiple apps that are installed by default in your new device. These inbox apps provide functionality in areas such as Mail, Calendar, Music, Photos, Video, etc. Microsoft also has its own app store, where you can check to see whether your device has the latest versions of these apps.
There is an app store shortcut on the default Start Menu (and usually one on the Taskbar) to get this process started.
Select the three dots on the right-hand side of the Store window to open the extended menu. On that drop-down menu select Downloads and updates.
On the next screen, click the Get updates button to check for app updates across your system.
Your system may be running an older version of the Microsoft Store. The text on that update button might read differently, but it is in the same general location.
Customize the Start Menu
Windows 10 is a highly customizable operating system, and one of the first places to begin is the Start Menu.
Here is what my customized Start menu looks like at the moment:
Windows 10 will provide you a generic Start Menu when it is first installed, but all you need to do is open the Start Menu and use one of several customization options:
-- Click and drag Live Tiles into other groups or create a new group.
-- Right-click on Live Tiles to resize them, turn Live Tile functionality on or off, unpin the Live Tile from the Start Menu or pin it to your Taskbar.
-- Review the All Apps list on the left side of the Start Menu and right-click any shortcuts for apps you would like to pin to the Start Menu.
-- Click and drag the top and right edge of the Start menu to resize it to fit your unique customized layout.
-- Remove all Live Tiles from the Start Menu and just use the All Apps list as your Start Menu in Windows 7 style.
Over time you will learn even more about customizing your Start Menu and the great part is that you will be unique compared with the other 600 million users of Windows 10.
Another aspect of Windows 10 that is fully customizable for each user are options for how your Windows 10 user interface appears.
If you head to Windows Settings>Personalization you will find settings for Background, Colors, Lock screen, Themes, Start and Taskbar.
The best way to use these personalization options is to experiment with various combinations across all of these settings and find what works best for you.
These themes will add new backgrounds to your system along with matching color combinations for system highlights that will give you a great personalization starting point.
The last item I will point you toward in this area is under the Windows Settings>Personalization>Colors settings and is an option to use a Dark or Light theme across your system. My preference, as you can see from my screenshots, is Dark mode. A secondary benefit from this mode is battery savings because it takes less power to show dark pixels compared with light ones.
Bonus Tip: Download Microsoft Edge for Android or iOS
Microsoft continues to expand the ecosystem of devices that can communicate with one another and your Android or iOS smart phone can now be part of that experience.
Downloading the Microsoft Edge Mobile Browser for your device and signing in with your Microsoft Account will allow you to sync passwords and browsing history between devices. In addition, you will be able to easily send links to websites from your phone to your Windows 10 desktop for later viewing on a larger screen.
These suggestions really just scratch the surface of what is possible with the setup of Windows 10 on your device. I encourage you to explore the operating system and settings to see what else is possible.
I also recommend you keep an eye here on ITPro Today for our latest Windows 10-related content including our review of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, which is Microsoft’s latest feature update for the operating system.