Come July 29, Microsoft will launch its Windows 10 operating system and will be handed out as a free upgrade for existing Windows 7 and 8/8.1 users across 190 countries.
According to the software titan, Windows 10 is the best windows ever to date, with new features to rival other OS, one of which is the hyped Windows Cortana, a voice intelligent personal assistant first introduce for Windows Mobile to rival Apple’s Siri.
Prior to the official launch, Microsoft has released preview builds for users to test drive Windows 10. Every build released features new functions, bug fixes, and add-ons; some were even suggested by users through a feedback system.
The local office of Microsoft lent us a copy to review: Build 10130 installed on a Dell Venue 11 Pro 7140.
Start button returns
Windows 10 brings needed improvement on the existing Windows 8.1. Probably the most noticeable and also the most requested, is the return of the Windows Start button.
Early adapters of Windows 8 voiced out their frustration over the lack of the Start button, which had been with Windows since the very start. Microsoft focused so much on the Live Tiles Interface that it decided to forego the little button, thinking everyone would switch to touch-screen devices. Alas, many users of non-touch screen device where left in the dark and had a hard time navigating around Windows 8, so much so that some, including myself, reverted back to Windows 7.
The Windows 10 preview builds released by Microsoft has the Start button making a comeback, so we are quite confident it will be part of Windows 10 once officially released. The new start menu features list of frequently used applications, PC setting, and resizable live tiles.
Just ask Cortana
As earlier mentioned, Microsoft Cortana has been included in the Windows 10 preview builds which will make our already smart PCs a little smarter. The Siri-inspired virtual assistant will be able to answer questions you may have. Cortana adjusts to your behavior, location, and schedule in order to serve you better. It’s also a nifty feature to have for you to practice your conversation skills or if you do not simply have anyone to talk to.
Search and deploy
Universal search on the Windows 10 has been improved, bringing up results faster. Also, aside from typing, you can also talk to Windows 10 to do the searching for you weather offline or online, as if it’s a real person.
Goodbye Windows Explorer, hello Microsoft Edge
Windows Explorer is out of the picture in Windows 10. Sadly, Windows Explorer has been the butt of many jokes in the past few years, bowing to third-party Internet browsers such as Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
It has received flaks both on security and performance and some would say its only purpose was to download Chrome or Firefox and never to be used again. That is quite harsh, and Microsoft listened and decided to give their Web browser a facelift.
New features include the ability to annotate by keyboard or pen, improved sharing options, and integration with Cortana. Dubbed as Project Spartan on build previews, it will be launched as Microsoft Edge come July 29.
Adaptation is key to survival
Looks like Microsoft has taken Darwin’s words to heart as Windows has slowly integrated software and hardware for adaptation. With the influx of laptop-tablet hybrids, Microsoft addressed some problem from the previous OS.
First introduced in 8.1 and dubbed as “Continuum”, Windows 10 will be able to recognize if you’re using the device as a laptop or as a tablet. Detaching your keyboard prompts the OS to switch to tablet mode, making the interface suitable for touch-screen inputs. This works quite well on our test, allowing us to continue whichever mode it maybe.
We know Windows does multitasking, but this time, it has what they call “snap assist”. Four running apps can be snapped together on a single window, making multi-tasking easier without having to resize or minimize apps.
Another new feature is the Task View button, which works like the alt-tab command. It lists all open apps so you can switch in between apps easily.
On this build, a new security feature was introduced dubbed as “Windows Hello”. This feature allows users to sign in to Windows 10 using only facial recognition. This is still in its early stage and is yet to be configurable.
Copy and pasting in Command Prompt
Other notable improvements include better integration with XBox, new flat modern icons, more transparent UI elements, and better animation.
Occasional bugs are still present on this build like the Start Menu failing to show after repeated tries or Wi-Fi connectivity sometimes failing to connect. But these things are to be expected on test builds. Microsoft has been made aware of these bugs and will issue a fix come launch time.
Overall, Windows 10 has been nothing but a bliss to use, improving on what is already a good OS in Windows 8.1. Windows 7 users would likely welcome this update, thanks to the re-instated and improved Start button. A few more days left, and Windows 10 is looking very, very good.