Microsoft is finally rolling out their latest and greatest operating system, Windows 10 to end users in 190 countries. If you’re on most versions of Windows 7, 8 or 8.1, and you haven’t got it already, you’ll shortly receive an ‘invitational pop up’ message in the bottom right of your screen to download and upgrade to Windows 10 free of charge!
As you may be aware, I’ve personally been evaluating the Windows 10 Insider Preview on my Surface 3 for a little while now, and its left me feeling largely impressed, however there were a few irksome bugs which have been sorted out for the most part now. Regardless of whatever camp you fall into, Windows 10 combines the best parts of Windows 7’s desktop look and feel (and return of the start menu!), with Windows 8/8.1’s modern nuances and touchy-interface-y parts that should go some way to winning the hearts and minds of everyone that decides to make the jump.
There are many new features you can look forward to in Windows 10. Here are just a few of our favourites:
Microsoft Edge browser
This overtakes Internet Explorer as Microsoft’s new default streamlined browser, that I can only describe as giving users a rapid and pure browsing experience. It is very simple, and nary a stutter in sight as you zip around pages on-line. It is still very basic though, and doesn’t have features you would tend to expect with more advanced browsers, like extensions, or addons to enhance your experience further, however it does have a handy feature that lets you scribble on top of websites, and send them as screenshots. Handy when trying to explain things to people! If you’re wondering where Internet Explorer is gone, don’t worry, if you’re a user that needs to have it for compatibility use, it is still there, just tucked away until you really (REALLY) need it, which should reassure business users!
Windows 10 now bakes in Cortana by default, which is its very own virtual personal assistant. It aggregates local and web searches together to produce results, as well as crawl through our emails, and calendar to remind you of meetings, appointments, and other stuff like plane tickets in your email when you need to present them. It can also be fully voice controlled, and activated hands-free by just saying ‘Hey Cortana’, whereby you can then reel off your command for her to obey. Soon you’ll be having fun commanding her to play with your Wi-Fi. Yes, she can switch it off and on for you.
This is a feature that automatically adjusts your experience for whatever activity, device and display you are using on the fly. With a raft of different devices available, one of the biggest challenges in an OS is making its look and feel remain suitable on whatever device you’re running it on. Thankfully, however if you decide to use Windows 10, it will adapt, whether it is on a touch screen (tablet mode) or desktop, you can switch in real time. On the Surface, it’s as easy as removing the keyboard, which automatically gives you a tablet experience and minimises the hard to press buttons of a full desktop on smaller screens. Handy!
This is a new security feature that allows you to log into your machine without a password using smart biometrics. To take advantage of it, you need either a fingerprint reader or an integrated 3D Camera (such as Intel’s RealSense) built into your PC. Using your fingerprint is obvious, however signing in with your face is a feature we’ve seen on Android phones before, however in this instance, using one of these 3D cameras scans certain attributes of your face using infrared, as well as your iris for authentication, so it is a lot more secure.
The Start Menu
The main crux of your experience within any operating system is the desktop, and how easy it is to navigate within it, and remain in control. Windows 7 perfected this to some degree, yet remained basic in look and feel, having not really innovated that far enough from when this first began in Windows 95. Windows 8 went overboard and not only removed the familiar start menu, but introduced a start screen, which created a physical divide to the desktop, particular with apps (modern vs full fat desktop apps) and even unintuitively made turning off your machine a puzzle as it was buried away from obvious places.
Windows 10 Start menu mixes the best of both by getting rid of the main Start screen, and bringing back the usual Windows 7 structure, with the dynamism of Windows 8 tiles. The nice thing is that everything is in one desktop now, Windows store apps can be run in “windowed mode”, just like regular old desktop apps, and the whole thing is customisable. In addition to the start menu, Windows now has its version of a notifications shade that pops in from the right of the screen, called Action Center, which keeps you apprised of all manner of system and personal notifications, as well as quick access toggles to things like Wi-Fi, VPN, and Settings.
This is Microsoft’s version of crowd-sourcing Wi-Fi in an effort to create a truly connected world. You can essentially share your authenticated network connections in encrypted forms with your friends and contacts on social networks such as Facebook and Skype. Whilst this might immediately be ringing alarm bells, one must look at the true merits of what this entails, which is unfettered access to many publicly authenticated places or institutions, or access to the networks of those you trust. It should be noted that by default, whilst it is switched on, the networks you are authenticated with aren’t shared and can be picked at will to share very easily. Access is also exclusively via the Internet gateway, so local resource access is blocked by default. If you are really uncomfortable with the whole thing, you can switch it off directly in your Wi-Fi settings, but you really should take the few minutes to understand how great this feature is. Stroke of genius in my opinion!
The above are just a few of the new features included in the new Windows 10 release, and whilst it is still early days, I think that most people will be able to settle into this quicker than those that struggled (or even bothered to get to grip) with Windows 8 or 8.1. By making Windows 10 free for (almost) all, they’ve removed one barrier to entry, but only time will tell whether it will be readily adopted by all.
As someone that has migrated straight from the Insider Preview to the final build, I am personally enjoying it a lot, and it is working better than it ever has. The only thing that is bothering me with it right now on the Surface is that it is still eating through my battery, which struggles to last anywhere near as long as it did when it was on 8.1. If you can’t wait for the update, take a look in the Source below to a link directly to the ISO, and once you’ve installed it, come back here and let us know how you’re doing with it. Enjoy!
Image Source: Ubertechsupport.com
Videos: Windows YouTube Channel