In summary Windows 10 is a dramatic improvement over Windows 8. It works as single, unified operating system rather than two operating systems poorly bolted together. It changes its interface depending on whether you’re on a tablet or a traditional PC, and runs well on both. Cortana, despite some shortcomings, is a very worthwhile addition, and the Edge browser gives Chrome a run for its money. Built-in apps are greatly improved. Despite some bugs and annoyances (like being forced to accept Windows updates), it will be worthwhile to upgrade from Windows 8.1 before July 29, 2016, when Microsoft’s one-year free upgrade offer runs out. Windows 7 users should consider upgrading as well, thanks to Cortana, Edge and the advent of useful Windows apps.
Yes It’s Back!
Everything starts with the new Start menu. Tap the Windows key to launch it; tap it again to make it disappear.
You are now able to find the shutdown button in the Start Menu. Unlike the current Windows 8 this will not leave your employees frustrated when trying to perform one of the most basic tasks on a PC: turning it off! It’s one small example of how Windows 10 is designed to be easy to understand for the average user, a good sign for businesses that might adopt the new operating system.
The new search box in Windows 10 offers expanded functionality. For starters, it lets you perform Web searches right from the desktop; just open the Start menu and begin typing to see Web results for your query returned alongside local results. Another new feature gives you the ability to search for Windows apps just by typing into the search bar. Finally, a new magnifying glass button beside the Start button lets you view a list of your recently opened files and folders with one click. All this making navigation easier and saving you time.
Currently you are able to split your screen into two parts, enabling you to view two apps at once. Windows 10 takes that feature and improves upon it with its Snap View feature. In addition to snapping windows to the sides of your screen, you can now drag them to the corners to snap them into quadrants of your display. That lets you easily get a view of three or four apps at once in just a few seconds, while utilizing all the available space on your desktop. Click here to discover how to use Snap View.
Modern apps in Windows
Modern apps are still around for Windows 10, but Microsoft has made one big change: These apps now run inside of regular windows on your desktop. Making it easier to minimise apps using the X in the top right corner. Better yet, you can use them seamlessly alongside the other desktop Windows programs you use to run your business every day. Windows 10 have made it easier to find apps. You can now create modern app shortcuts on the desktop by simply dragging the icon on to your desktop. Additionally, you can pin your favourite apps to your taskbar (this is the bar located at the bottom of your screen in line with the menu button).
Continuum is a new feature, which lets Windows 10 perform a shape-shifting trick by detecting the type of machine you’re running. Changing its interface dynamically to the one suited for the device. It’s particularly useful for two-in-one devices such as the Microsoft Surface Pro, which works as a tablet or laptop, depending upon whether you have a keyboard attached.
Tablet mode offers much the same Start screen interface that came with Windows 8, although with improvements. At the top left of the screen you will find three horizontal stacked lines. This button is a mini-Start menu for tablets. Tap it and you get a menu that lists your most-used and most recently added apps. It also contains links to File Explorer, Settings, the Power button and all your apps. Providing an easy way to navigate between apps. At the bottom left of the Start screen there’s another menu icon that looks like a bulleted list. Tap it to see a list of all of your apps, including desktop apps and built-in Windows apps such as Settings. Also new is that the Taskbar runs at the bottom of the screen in tablet mode — the same Taskbar that is on the desktop. Overall it makes Windows 10 feels like a single interface spanning two modes, rather than two operating systems joined together.
Like iPhone’s Siri digital assistant or Google’s Google Now, Cortana is Microsoft’s offering. It’s embedded deeply into the Windows 10 operating system. The more you use it, the more useful it becomes, because it learns about you over time. Cortana is present primarily as a search bar under the Start menu; you can also launch it by tapping its tile on the Start menu. (In tablet mode, it’s accessible from an icon on the Taskbar). You wake it up by saying “Hey Cortana” or “Hi Cortana.” You can then ask it to do something, such as find a file, launch a program or find information. If you prefer typing to talking, type your request into the search bar. What you’ll see next depends upon your request. Cortana, which is based on Bing’s search engine, looks through your files, your Microsoft OneDrive cloud storage account, your videos and music, the apps on your PC, your settings, your email and the Web. The actions it takes or the way it shows your search results varies according to what you’ve asked for. For example, when asked, “Show me my photos from the Superfast Broadband Seminar,” Cortana quickly found them on both PC and on OneDrive — and displayed them. When asked, “What’s the weather?” it knew my location and told me it was 14 degrees and sunny, and also displayed the weather forecast. And when requested, “Add an appointment on Sunday,” it asked what time the appointment was scheduled to start, and from there you are able to quickly add an appointment to my calendar.
Edge – The new browser
Another big addition to Windows is the new Edge browser, which replaces Internet Explorer. Edge is Windows 10’s default browser and with it, Microsoft hopes to eventually bid farewell to Internet Explorer. Edge is a game changer and is a considerable improvement on Internet Explorer. With Edge, Microsoft focused on creating a speedy browser — and the work has paid off. It displayed Web pages extremely quickly, much faster than its predecessor, and equal to or possibly faster than Chrome. The browser’s basics are straightforward — there are several icons to the right of the Address Bar that offer access to a variety of features. To begin with, you click on a star to add a favourite. A menu icon just to the star’s right lets you to browse favourites, view downloaded files, see your history list and use the browser’s reading list feature Another icon lets you share a URL via Mail, Twitter, OneNote and the reading list. And over on the far right there are three small dots that, when clicked, bring up a range of features such as zooming, launching a new window, printing. There is an icon to the left of the star that resembles a book and activates Edge’s Reading View. This function is much like a similar Safari feature: It strips out everything extraneous to a page’s content, including ads, navigation, sidebars and anything else that diverts attention from the content. You read the text in a scrollable window, with graphics included. Edge also offers the ability to annotate and share Web pages. Enabling you to mark up a Web page using highlighters and note-creation tools, save the annotated page and share it as a .jpg graphics file via email, OneNote or Twitter. One of Edge’s most useful features is the way in which it takes advantage of Cortana, which inconspicuously appears at the top of pages for which Cortana can offer help. For example, when visiting the Web page of the National Library of Wales , the Cortana icon appeared to the right of the Address Bar with the message, “I’ve got directions, hours, and more.” When clicked, a sidebar appeared on the right-hand side of the page with a map, address, phone number, description of the place and reviews.
More about those Windows Apps on the desktop
One reason Windows 8.1 felt like two separate operating systems was the dramatically different behavior of the apps that were written for the touch interface and those written for the non-touch desktop. Desktop apps could be run in resizable windows, but Windows apps ran either full-screen, “snapped” next to another Windows app (but not a desktop app), or minimized. So you couldn’t have multiple Windows apps running in separate windows on the desktop alongside desktop apps. That changes in Windows 10. Windows apps can now be resized, minimized and closed in the same familiar way as desktop apps. You can drag the edges of a Windows app to resize it and use the familiar desktop menu on the upper right for minimizing, maximizing and closing the app. Windows apps have been redesigned in another way as well. On the left-hand side of the screen is a series of icons for accessing different features in an app. These icons change depending on the app. For example, the Weather app has icons for news, maps, historical weather and so on. And in the news app there are icons for local news and videos, and for customizing your news interests. Another improvement: Windows apps in version 8 were low-powered and not particularly useful — more like simple tablet apps than fully featured desktop apps. In Windows 10, that changes. Some are quite good. Three apps in particular have been powered up: Maps, Mail and Calendar. Mail has been notably improved with a new interface and new features. Unlike the Mail app in Windows 8, it supports POP-based mail. It’s also much simpler to manage your mail in it. When reading an email, icons across the top let you reply, forward, delete, archive and flag mail. You can click the menu at the upper right to get at more features, including moving mail, marking it as read, printing and zooming. Text-formatting features are also better than in the Windows 8 version. When you compose mail, a large toolbar appears at the top of the screen, which lets you change text formatting; undo and redo text changes; insert tables, pictures and links; and attach files. You can also spell check your mail and change its language. The Calendar app is also much improved. I found the Windows 8 version so cluttered and confused-looking it felt unusable. If you wanted to do something simple like change the view (Day, Work Week or Month) it wasn’t clear at first how to do it. You had to call up a menu, and then make your choice. In the Windows 10 version, the Day, Work Week, Week, Month and Today views are all accessible by clicking an icon at the top of the page. I also appreciate that even when looking at a day’s calendar, the month view is available on the right side of the screen. Maps is also improved. Travelers who use tablets or laptops will appreciate that you can download maps and use them when you’re not connected to the Internet. This is especially useful if you’re travelling overseas and want to keep down your data use, or if you know you’re going to be somewhere beyond the reach of an Internet connection. The app is much better designed than previously. Icons down the left let you search for a location or for places such as hotels, restaurants and coffee shops; add a location to a favorites list; get directions for driving, walking or for public transportation; change your settings; and visit what Microsoft calls 3D cities. Go to one of these 3D cities and you’ll see a view of it similar to Google Earth. On the right side of the Maps app you’ll find buttons for zooming in and out, tilting the map, changing its orientation and adding overlays for traffic and other tools. One piece of big news is that the app now has a Street View-like feature called Streetside, which works much like the Bing Maps Streetside feature. With the addition of Streetside, the Maps app could give Google Maps a run for its money. It has much the same features and integrates well with Cortana. One Settings app A new feature for the apps, in Windows 10, you’ll find almost all settings in the Settings app, accessible from the bottom of the Start menu. It’s cleanly and logically organized, with nine sections: System, Devices, Network & Internet, Personalization, Accounts, Time & Language, Ease of Access, Privacy and Update & Security. Click on the icon for any section, drill down, and you’ll easily navigate to what you need. There’s also a search bar so that you can forgo browsing and search for a specific setting instead. Action Centre New in Windows 10 is the Action Centre, which is accessible via an icon on the right side of the Taskbar. The Action Centre performs two functions: It displays notifications for such things as new emails and security and maintenance messages, and it gives you access to a handful of common settings for such tasks as connecting to Wi-Fi networks, turning Bluetooth on and off, and changing brightness settings. The notifications for new email, security alerts and others first appear on their own on the lower right of the desktop and disappear after a few seconds. But they live on in the Action Centre, so that you can attend to them there when you want. For example, if you tap an email notification, the email opens in the Mail app. Tap a security notification, and you’ll be taken to the appropriate tool. When I received a notification that I could speed up my PC because three unnecessary programs were launching on startup, I was sent to the Task Manager, which let me stop those programs from running. Security Microsoft have studied data breach attacks in detail to build features in Windows 10 that protect against modern cyber threats and prevent them from happening. With Windows 10, companies can begin to replace passwords with more secure options, such as biometrics and hardware-based multi-factor credentials. If you’ve got the proper hardware, Windows 10 supports a biometric security feature that Microsoft calls Windows Hello, letting you log into Windows via a fingerprint scan, face scan or iris scan, so no need for passwords. With Credential Guard, Windows 10 protects corporate identities by containing them in the hardware-based secure execution environment. With Device Guard and Secure Boot, Windows 10 enables companies to help block attacks by only allowing devices to run trusted software. Device Guard also works with hardware-based Hyper-V isolation to contain malware. There will also be a Windows Store for Business that will contain only certified and trusted applications. Innovative devices for businesses. Windows 10 allows businesses to bring the latest innovation to their existing PC fleet, as well as take advantage of the broad variety of innovative devices (such as 2-in-1s) to support their line of business scenarios. Microsoft are introducing revolutionary new categories of devices (like HoloLens and Surface Hub) that redefine workplace productivity. Windows 10 will enable the broadest range of innovative devices ever – from PCs and phones to Surface Hub and HoloLens. More information about Hololens : https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-hololens/en-us More information about Surface-hub: https://www.microsoft.com/microsoft-surface-hub/en-gb Other changes File Explorer has seen changes as well. Its icons are more colourful and brighter. You can pin and unpin folders to it on the Start menu. You also get to OneDrive from inside File Explorer; it appears as a folder with subfolders underneath it. And you can share files — click a file and select Share from the top menu and you get a variety of ways for sharing, including via email and Twitter. You can compress a file and burn it to disc from the same menu. The Windows Store has also gotten a makeover. The design is simpler and cleaner. More important than that, though, is that you can now download and install desktop apps from it, something not previously possible. Microsoft is also making a push to get more apps into the store by introducing what it calls Universal apps that will be able to run on any Windows device, including desktops, laptops, tablets and phones. Also new is Task View and the ability to create multiple desktops. Tap the small icon just to the right of the Cortana search bar and you’ll see all of your currently running apps and applications as thumbnails on the desktop. Click the X on any of the thumbnails to close it. More importantly, though, you can create multiple desktops, each with different apps and applications running on them. To do that, when you’re in Task View, you click New desktop to create a second desktop; you can then run apps and applications inside it. In fact, you can create several desktops; to switch among them, click the Task View icon, and then click the desktop you want to switch to. Updates With Windows updates, whether you like it or not, Windows 10 updates are always automatically installed. In Windows 8 you could pick and choose which updates to install. Not so with Windows 10. What Microsoft sends via Windows Updates gets installed.