At Microsoft event last week, Microsoft presented their new operating system “Windows 10” which represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows; unlocking new experiences for customers to work, play and connect.
According to Microsoft, Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens – some have 80 inch screens – and some don’t have screens at all. Some of these devices you hold in your hand, others are ten feet away. Some of these devices you primarily use touch/pen, others mouse/keyboard, others controller/gesture – and some devices can switch between input types.
Microsoft drew back the curtain on the operating system’s new consumer-focused features at an event on Wednesday, while simultaneously driving home a vision of an operating system designed to deliver a singular, cohesive experience across a myriad of device types.
Windows 10 Preview comes with loads of cool and exciting new features that are designed to make using the operating system a smoother experience.
Something old apparently became new again – in a cooler way. The familiar Start menu is back with a new customizable space for your favorite apps and Live Tiles.
It’s looks much like the old Start menu we’ve been scrolling since Windows 95 with your apps all stacked in that endless column of nested folders. Sitting alongside that column are Windows 8’s lovely Live Tiles, with news-bites and social updates.
These replaces the bold contentious Windows 8 Start screen which was designed with touchscreen devices in mind. The Windows 10 Start Menu gives us the best of both worlds.
The new Start menu behaves much like older versions of Windows, with frequently used apps and any folders you’ve pinned lined up in a neat little column. To the right of that column are the Live Tiles, which function much like they do in Windows 8 in a fraction of the space. You pin apps as new tiles on a whim, and also resize and rearrange tiles to your liking. You can also resize the entire Start menu, making it tall and narrow, or short and wide. And if you’d rather not deal with the Live Tiles at all, just right-click them and remove them.
This Is Spartan (Web Browser)
Also new to Windows 10 is Spartan: A new, clean-looking, lightweight browser built around a new rendering engine. It is expected to come to phones eventually.
The Spartan browser includes a note-taking mode that lets you annotate a webpage, then share your marked-up, commented-on version with others using Windows 10’s native Share feature. There’s also a clipping tool so you can save portions of websites directly to OneNote.
Spartan also doubles down on the mere act of reading on the Internet. The browser integrates an updated version of the stellar Reading Mode found in Windows 8’s Metro Internet Explorer app. Reading Mode strips all the ads and sidebar crud out of webpages, formatting articles so that they appear similar to a book. It’s a wonderful thing. Spartan also taps into the Windows Reading List app, so you can save articles to read later, synchronizing the list across multiple devices. Unlike the Reading List app in Windows 8, the one in Windows 10 will let you save content to read offline.
Hi. I’m Cortana
As anticipated, Microsoft’s Cortana digital assistant makes the jump from Windows Phone to Windows 10, assuming control of many of the operating system’s search features. Cortana can perform many of the same basic tricks she does in Windows Phone. Cortana can be interacted with via text or natural voice queries, just like on mobile devices.
Still based off Microsoft’s cloud-based Bing brains, Cortana can answer basic queries like “Will I need a coat tomorrow?” or how much it costs to attend the University of Washington, as Belfiore showed in live demonstrations. But Cortana’s also been tweaked for more useful PC-like interactions. She can scour your local machine, OneDrive account, and even your business network to find files based on natural language queries. Belfiore showed off the capabilities by asking Cortana to “Find PowerPoint slides about the charity auction” and “Show me photos from December.” The digital assistant surfaced the desired information nearly instantly.
That sounds pretty darn handy, and there are more playful commands, too: Telling Cortana to “Play my music” launches the music app, while asking her to “Please be quiet” silences the music.
Improved PC gaming with Xbox
Microsoft’s also integrating Xbox capabilities into the operating system. A new Xbox app lets you chat with your Xbox Live pals, view your achievement information, or access game DVR clips. The app also lets you like, share, and comment on game clips.
In addition, while you’re playing traditional PC games, be it in Steam or otherwise, a new Windows key + G keyboard shortcut brings up an interface for saving snapshots and 30 second video clips of your adventures, which then brings you into the Xbox app to share it. Games don’t directly have to support the functionality as it’s being overlaid directly by Microsoft in Windows 10.
Everything runs in a window
Apps from the Windows Store now open in the same format that desktop apps do and can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing for maximize, minimize, and close with a click.
This is indeed a welcome change, allowing us to sample the new aesthetic Microsoft is pushing for the next generation of Windows without sacrificing our entire display.
You can now have four apps snapped on the same screen with a new quadrant layout. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping and even make smart suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps.
New task view button
Windows 10 lets you work smarter, too. By Clicking the Task view button, you’ll get a quick glimpse of all of your open apps and windows. There’s a new task-view button on the taskbar for quick switching between open files and quick access to any desktops you create.
Create a virtual desktop for different purposes and projects and switch between these desktops easily and pick up where you left off on each desktop through a black box running along the bottom of the display: that’s a sort of private island that keeps everything you open there as an independent workspace. You can, for example, create one desktop for all of the applications you use for work, another to browse social media sites like facebook, and yet another for games or whatever you want.
Find files faster
File Explorer now displays your recent files and frequently visited folders making for finding files you’ve worked on is easier.
Windows 10 also came with real game-changing potential – one operating system to rule them all. Thanks to Continuum, a feature that serves up a device-specific interface that’ll scale from desktops down to tablets. Consider a two-in-one convertible device like the Surface 3: pop it off its keyboard base, and a little prompt will pop up asking if you’d like to switch to “tablet mode.” Press it, and the apps on your desktop will instantly transform into their full-screen, tablet incarnations — this includes traditional Windows desktop apps, too.
You’ll use all of the gestures you’re accustomed to on a Windows tablet, and can switch back to the desktop by popping the device back onto its keyboard, or by pressing the “tablet mode” toggle button in the Windows 10 Action Center.
Windows 10 Preview build containing the newly announced features and much more is available for free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8 users for the next one year. Here’s how to get started with the Windows 10 Preview. However, while considering installing it, take note that the Windows 10 is a Technical Preview which may be substantially modified before it’s commercially released and Microsoft makes no warranties. Download Windows 10 Technical Preview here (official Microsoft link).
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