An easy way to divide a room of Windows 10 fans is to start debating the merits of the tiles section in the new Start menu. Some people love it, others don’t. Personally, I think Live Tiles on a PC can be helpful for quick hits of information like the weather, news headlines, and stock prices.
That said, lately I’ve been playing around with a tiles-free version of the Start menu. It’s very minimalist and forces me to make some hard choices about what I put on the taskbar. That’s because when you give up the Live Tiles section, you have almost zero control over the rest of the Start menu. Nevertheless, right now I’m finding it useful and you might too.
Sheila Harris set up a new Windows 10 PC, and realized afterwards that she set it up with a Microsoft account. That’s not what she wanted.
Microsoft really wants the user account on your Windows 10 PC to match up with your account on the company’s cloud-based service. The company therefore made the Microsoft account the default. But you can decouple the account on your PC from the one on Microsoft’s servers.
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But should you? With a Microsoft account, settings you change on one computer can carry over to others. You have an immediate, automatic connection to OneDrive. And you don’t have to type in your password every time you download an app from the Microsoft Store.
Since its inception, Pro Tools’s outstanding mixing board mimicry has made it the pro's choice for upscale audio recording and manipulation—the recording industry’s DAW, as it were. That’s its bread and butter and it’s very intuitive for traditional studio engineers. For artists? Enh. However, over the years, Pro Tools has acquired MIDI and sequencing abilities, as well as notation, so it’s a more than competent tool for creative purposes. In fact, the program’s in-line editing (editing done right on the track rather than a separate window) makes it a favorite of many.
Avid’s brave new world
Pro Tools fell behind in the home creative audio market not so much because of creative lacks, but restrictive marketing practices. Prior to version 9, you needed an M-Powered consumer audio interface that was limited to 48kHz, or expensive, proprietary hardware if you wanted to record at bit rates beyond that. Avid still markets the high-end hardware which is quite nice-sounding, but it’s no longer joined at the hip with the software.
When PreSonus dipped its toes into the high-end digital audio workstation (DAW) market a few years ago, it was a bit of a surprise. The market was thought saturated, nothing major had appeared in years, yet the company’s Studio One 1.0 proved almost immediately popular. Introducing the more efficient paned interface and drag-and-drop that industry mainstays Cubase, Logic, Sonar, and Pro Tools lacked proved enticing. It also didn’t hurt that Presonus bundled Studio One with its top-rated audio interfaces.
Over the last five years, the competition has remedied most of their interface issues, while Studio One, now on version 3.2, has caught up with them in terms of features. It’s now as powerful as they come, but adding features has exacerbated what was always a problem--visual overload and ambiguity. That’s partly because of the sheer number of features, but also because of the way they are presented. There’s a lot to take in, and even once you know Studio One, it can be tricky on the eye.
As a track-based DAW (Digital Audio Workstation, i.e. a MIDI and audio recorder/editor) guy, my first look at Ableton Live elicited from me a rather long-winded “huh?” It was familiar-looking, but at the same time not. However, befuddlement soon gave way to stark admiration for the program’s interface and abilities.
I wrote the above paragraph five years ago. But while I admired Ableton, I kept going back to the DAWs with workflows I was familiar with such as Studio One, Cubase, Sonar, and even Mulab, even though they all irritated me in one way or another. I could just never get over the hump of Ableton’s unfamiliarity. A real shame, because now that I’m fully on board, for the first time in my recording life I’m free of DAW-envy. While I have a few nits with Ableton, I’m no longer tempted by others. At least for the creative stage.
(Editor's Note: As promised, we've revisited the review with the "release" version of Windows 10, which Microsoft began pushing to PCs on July 29. Minor updates are scattered throughout, with emphasis on the Windows Hello and Edge sections and bugs that were present in earlier code.)
We may as well refer to Windows 10 as a date, or an hour, as much as an operating system. It’s a moment in time. A month from now, it will have changed, evolved, improved. But right now? Microsoft has shipped an operating system that was meticulously planned and executed with panache, but whose coat of fresh paint hides some sticks and baling wire.