Win­dows 10


In late 2014, Mi­crosoft took the wraps off the Tech­ni­cal Preview of its next Win­dows op­er­at­ing sys­tem, and in do­ing so it took ev­ery­one by sur­prise. We ex­pected the next gen­er­a­tion of Win­dows: we just didn’t ex­pect it to be called Win­dows 10. None the less here is Win­dows 10: the next op­er­at­ing sys­tem for PCs and lap­tops, smart­phones and tablets. And, in­deed, an OS for servers and all points in be­tween.

Mi­crosoft said that Win­dows 10 is built from the ground up for a world in which mo­bile- and cloud com­put­ing are key. Ex­ecs from the com­pany said it was com­mit­ted to mak­ing Win­dows 10 friendly for the en­ter­prise, ideal for key­board and mouse users, but also op­ti­mised for touch. Oh, and the op­er­at­ing sys­tem will put the same in­ter­face on de­vices with dis­plays rang­ing in size from 4- to 80in. “One prod­uct fam­ily, one plat­form, one store,” says Mi­crosoft.

Given the luke­warm re­ac­tion to Win­dows 8, these seem like bold claims. They are nec­es­sary, though. Also nec­es­sary was Mi­crosoft’s de­ci­sion to make Win­dows 10 the most beta-tested prod­uct it has ever re­leased. The op­er­at­ing sys­tem was tested by over 4 mil­lion peo­ple around the world be­fore its launch.

What’s new?

Crit­i­cally the Start Menu is back. It con­tains stan­dard Win­dows soft­ware and Win­dows apps. Mod­ern UI apps, as they used to be called. Or Metro apps, if you want to go right back to the be­gin­ning.

But this time the Start menu is im­proved, and it may even make Win­dows apps use­ful. Look to the left and you’ll see a list of your most-used apps, just as in Win­dows 7. At the bot­tom we see an ‘All apps’ short­cut, plus short­cuts to File Ex­plorer, Set­tings and – con­ve­niently – shut down and standby.

And Mi­crosoft has re­tained the func­tion­al­ity of the Win­dows 8 Start screen over on the right, with re­siz­able Live Tiles, so that you can im­me­di­ately check un­read mail or Cal­en­dar ap­point­ments. The Start Menu is cus­tomis­able, too – you can re­size it, and re­ar­range the tiles, cre­ate groups of tiles, and also re­vert to the Win­dows 8 Start Screen, should you wish to.

The full-screen start menu is re­ally meant for tablet use, where it makes most sense, but you can choose to use it on a PC or lap­top with­out a touch­screen if you like.

We’re fans of the tile con­cept, if not the in­el­e­gance with which they’re cur­rently pre­sented. As with Win­dows Phone, it’s what you can pin that mat­ters. In­stead of merely adding short­cuts to apps, you can pin tiles which are short­cuts to spe­cific func­tions or fea­tures within apps.

This makes life a lot more con­ve­nient when you be­gin pin­ning the right stuff. For ex­am­ple, you could pin a par­tic­u­lar email or con­ver­sa­tion thread from Mail or Face­book, or pin a cer­tain jour­ney (your com­mute, typ­i­cally) in a travel app. It saves a lot of time, be­lieve us.

Search and Cor­tana

In­stead of plac­ing a search box in the Start menu, or hid­ing it com­pletely as is the case in Win­dows 8, Win­dows 10 sticks it front and cen­tre on the Taskbar. This is a smart move, as it’s al­ways there ready to serve up what­ever you need to find or what to know.

The first time you click on the box, you’ll see a prompt to en­able Cor­tana. That’s be­cause Cor­tana and search are pretty much one and the same in Win­dows 10. In fact, search is just part of the vir­tual as­sis­tant’s re­mit.

If you’ve ever used a phone run­ning Win­dows Phone 8, you’ll prob­a­bly know Cor­tana al­ready. The beauty is that you can type or talk to her and it’s the same in Win­dows 10. It’s much faster to tap the mi­cro­phone but­ton (or even say, “Hey Cor­tana”) and reel off your re­quest than to type it.

Stick­ing with search for a minute, you can type in a sin­gle word and Win­dows 10 will re­turn a list of match­ing apps, set­tings and files, plus apps in the Win­dows store. It will also show a list of web re­sults.

But there’s lots more you can do, as all the fea­tures from Win­dows Phone are now in Win­dows 10.


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