Top 4 Features Of the Upcoming Windows 10
Windows 10 was announced a few weeks ago and already people are rather excited for the biggest update since the questionable Windows 8 was announced. Windows 8 was received to mix-reviews with some critics saying it transitioned Microsoft and Windows into the modern design era with a flatter and squarer design, a style choice a lot of modern user interfaces are choosing. However on the other hand, there was mass negativity about the major layout changes, the confusing choice between Metro apps and desktop apps and a lot of the geekier users complained about it being simpler and therefore less easy to get to the more complicated sections of the OS.
Overall, I feel Microsoft were pushing their OS in the right direction and with Windows 10 are looking to bring their beautiful metro UI into a world that all Windows users of the past 15 years will understand. In this article, we’re going to look at some of the reasons for this and also some of the more exciting features that shows that Microsoft have seen Apple’s offering of OSX Yosemite and are raising their bar to compete with them.
RETURN OF THE START MENU
A lot of people over the years have grown accustomed to hitting that little windows logo within the bottom left to search for apps, or to get to their control panel and such forth. However with the introduction of Windows 8, it brought forth the function to bring you back to your metro view of your applications. This confused and disgruntled a lot of long-time windows users as their trusted way of getting to the control panel and search function had been taken from them. Admittedly Windows 8 introduced direct universal search from the metro view however this was not well advertised and isn’t highlighted at all to those who know little about the OS which is not user experience friendly.
With Windows 10, Microsoft have brought back the start menu and they’ve brought it back with a beautiful metro bang that makes it feel right at home in Windows 10. With the new iteration, you have the ability to view Places which shows you File Explorer, Documents and Settings as Microsoft found these were the most commonly used places within Windows. You have Most Used which is a brilliant and quickly way to access your most used applications and a place I imagine will save a lot of time for people constantly searching for that app they have installed somewhere but keep forgetting to pin to their task bar or metro screen. With the new start menu, you also have the typical Windows 8 windows which is a scaled-down version of the usual metro view which allows you to view the apps you have in the metro view without having to go to said screen every time.
Anyone who has played Halo will know who the real Cortana is, but recently Microsoft introduced her to their smartphone which seems to be a smarter version of Siri that brings back some really useful information such as directions, reminders, apps on your phone and much more. With Windows 10, Microsoft are bringing Cortana to the big screen and are having it enabled by default. Now it’s unclear as to whether you’ll be able to access Cortana from absolutely everywhere or only when on the desktop or maybe when you have an app opened in a window. However what I can tell you is that it doesn’t look too much like a gimmick. It looks to me more like an easier way for users to access certain things on their computer without having to leave the desktop. You access Cortana either by clicking on the icon next to the start menu or simply by saying her name before your query. What Cortana can do seems fairly useful and early reports suggest it is fairly reliable. Examples of when you can use Cortana are: searching for weather, sports scores and also search files on your computer matching keywords. All-in-all it looks like Windows is bringing the current trend of voice search and touchless voice control to the Windows 10 platform.
This section may be less relevant to some people as the previous two sections, however with the game console rivalry between Microsoft and Sony booming in the passed decade, Microsoft have introduced a really neat feature into their Windows 10 platform. What’s the best way to get people to buy your console? By allowing everyone who has the biggest computer OS in the world, Windows to play their console wirelessly through their desktop or laptop.
Now, the Xbox App on Windows 10 does a simpler use of showing you your Gamerscore, friends list, recently played games etc which is obviously useful and a nice way to communicate with Xbox friends without having to switch on your console. However the clear headlining feature is not only the ability to play your games wirelessly but be able to play them online also. I felt this was something Microsoft has had in the pipeline for a while as it has offered Xbox 360 controller support for a while and I see it as a nice transition.
With the introduction of Apple’s Mountain Lion OS, they transferred over the Notification Center from iOS. In addition, since Windows 8, Windows has offered notifications, however there was never one place to view them once they’d gone. Microsoft decided this wasn’t the good way to do things and so when you drag in from the right hand side, you are brought to the Action Center that acts as the Notification Center.
This offers a much more useful and handy place for users to access their notifications. The interesting details to know would be to whether app developers have access to this API and as a result whether 3rd party apps can use it for their own notifications. If this is enabled, this would become as useful as the alternatives on the likes of Android, iOS and OSX.
OTHER NOTABLE FEATURES
The four features I’ve mentioned are the highlight features that stand out for me personally. However, there are thousands of new things coming with Windows 10 as with every major iteration of any OS. I’m going to mention some of the smaller but still notable features coming in Microsoft’s big update.
Project Spartan was a codename that was leaked a couple of weeks before the announcement for Windows 10 and everyone got excited. It was later found out to be the project behind the new browser that Windows 10 will introduce. Long has Internet Explorer been the butt of browser jokes between nerds alike and it’s good that Windows have noticed this and taken action upon it. The new Project Spartan browser supports a simpler UI and I hope much faster load times, as is with the trend with all browsers these days, less clutter and less load times.
Another feature that a lot of people coming from Windows 8 will appreciate is the fact that all apps open in Windowed mode now, this means that despite initially looking to take up the whole screen, then can then be dragged, resized and if chosen to, pinned to certain sides of the screen.
For those who have suggested that Windows 8 was built for touch displays rather than a mouse and keyboard will be happy to hear that Windows 10 have heard this and brought in multiple ways to combat this. The applications all suggest a touch interface with slightly larger buttons, but you do have a tablet and a desktop mode that changes certain aspects to improve performance for both. If this transitions smoothly then this could be very handy and useful for those using a Surface Pro or a 2-in-1 similar device.
These have been some of the top features that Windows 10 will be bringing to your desktop, laptop, tablet, ‘phablet’ and phone. It’s an OS that seems to have fixed all the problems with Windows 8 whilst bringing in some genuinely interesting and useful features. I feel this is the first time in a long time that Windows is technically ahead of MAC OSX!
A Windows 10 developer preview is available to download for everyone, however it is not recommended to be used on your main device as it will obviously contain many bugs and could result in doing some serious damage to your software.
All I can say is that I’ve owned a Mac for 2 years now and have never been interested in returning to and getting a Windows device again, however with the hopeful future purchase of an Xbox One, Windows 10 looks like the OS that may bring me back!
You can sign up for the Windows 10 Developer Preview here – however it is unstable and not recommended to be used on your main Windows device!