Windows 10 is soon approaching its release day and I've been keeping up to date with it so far in the technical preview. I'm not running it as my primary OS, as that would be foolish, but I have it running on a virtual machine. And if you would like to know how to do that yourself, feel free to check out my post here. Windows 10 is the follow up to the somewhat beloved Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. I say "somewhat" because I'll be honest, I'm still running Windows 7 on my primary machine, because it is awesome, and it works just fine.
Windows 10 hopes to fix the issues that Windows 8 and 8.1 have however, mainly that Windows 8 didn't know whether it wanted to be a desktop OS or a mobile OS or a tablet OS, and so it tried really hard to be all of those things, and ended up coming short on all sides. But it looks like Microsoft listened to the people and is actually focusing on a more usable digital ecosystem. No see through panels or different modes of use, just a simple, click, open, run, done approach, which is I imagine how most people use their operating systems. There's tons of new things, so let's not waste anymore time and get to it.
So Long Application Tiles
One of the things that I never got used to with Windows 8 was that almost all Windows applications ran in their own full page environment. If you clicked on an application tile, then say goodbye to your desktop. Sure you could add that panel to the left side and hide it until you needed it, but sometimes (most times) I just need to view some data. Windows 10 solves the problem by removing those stand-alone pages altogether. Apps now work just like they should, they open up in their own windows which you can maximize and minimize.
The Start Menu
The Start menu just keeps looking better and better by the build. There's subtle changes to it each time, but it seems to get cleaner and less flashy. It gets the job done, any job. All of your apps are listed in alphabetical order if you wish them to be, your documents and settings are right at the top. Live tiles are still a thing, although now you don't have to leave your desktop in order to open one up.
It feels as if Microsoft removed every single button and link that I ignored and not once clicked in previous Windows versions. Kudos Microsoft.
Multiple desktops were a top feature that rolled out with the initial Windows 10 Technical Preview release and it's gotten better. Aside from the bug fixes that are totally noticeable, it feels like a much smoother process now.
However, there is still a limited amount of desktops that you an add, due to the fact that after they fill up the screen the "New Desktop" button gets hidden somewhere underneath. Probably just a bug, and I'm sure it'll fixed by launch time.
The revamped Windows Search is your go to place for all things that you may be looking for, or things that you didn't know you were looking for. If your term is located in the hard drive, in the Windows Store, online somewhere it will list it. A nice new edition this time around is the integration of Cortana into the search as well. You can speak directly into your microphone and Cortana will do the rest.
This might be tough for some people to get into since most people have their go to method of searching for things online, and their go to browser as well. Personally, I type everything into the Chrome URL bar and Google does the rest. If you could perhaps set a default browser for the search to use, then this would totally be a go to feature for me. So far I haven't found a way to do that, and I probably won't as Microsoft would want as many people as it can to start using their newest Spartan browser.
Cortana integration isn't as bad as I thought it would be. As someone who's never used a Windows phone, it's pretty new to me. But I have been taking it through its paces and I can definitely see myself using it frequently, particularly while I'm busing working and need to look something up that's a simple one or two keywords.
The ever important taskbar has some new changes to it as well. The most noticeable is that the search box is now integrated into it, which is convenient, but does take up a good amount of the task bar space. I'm one of those people with a pretty bloated taskbar, and that's because I need those apps dammit! One day I will need to use each and every one of them. Aside from that, the new one also include by default the button to open up a tiled view of all of your open applications. This isn't new to Windows, but it's finally done in a way that makes it usable.
Here is what this looks like in Windows 7:
And here is what it looks like in Windows 10:
Much cleaner and with no bells and whistles. And more importantly, you can actually see what applications are open.
This is probably the most exciting update to Windows 10, and just Window in general really, so far. Spartan is Microsoft's solution to the Internet Explorer woes that we have all been facing for the past decade or so. And by woes, I mean closing IE as fast as humanly possible whenever it accidentally launches itself. So what's so special about Project Spartan? Spartan is a brand new browser built from the ground up with the latest standards, and fixes many of the issues that plagued IE, such as ActiveX components that were easily hackable back in the day.
Spartan also supports new features not yet seen on other browsers, such as the ability to annotate webpages and share them with friends. It also boasts a reading mode that removes unnecessary content from a webpage for easier viewing, a feature that will totally make sense when using Spartan on a mobile device. In addition, the browser will also support extensions that will give the browser Cortana and One Note functionality, to name a few applications.
Unfortunately, since I was on the slower build model I haven't yet received Spartan to play around with, but I just updated it to "fast", so I'm hoping that any day now I'll be able to take it for a spin.
Overall, Good Stuff
It's still not perfect, but it's definitely getting there. And it's awesome to see that all of the areas where I felt the OS felt short the last time around have been corrected. It's like Microsoft is actually listening to the people and making an OS that the customers would like and not telling them what to like. Very awesome. I'll be using Windows 10 up to release day and will hopefully have an update on just how awesome Project Spartan is very soon.