Microsoft finally released the latest version of its new operating system with a wide range of features and improvements which got a lot of attention in computer world. But what are new features of Windows 10 and does it pay to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8? This thorough review of Windows 10 will answer all your questions about the new features of Windows 10. Continue reading!
Windows 10: An Undeniable Necessity for Microsoft
Microsoft introduced Windows 8 with great fanfare in 2012. As Steve Ballmer (Microsoft CEO at that time) put it ‘it could change the world’. In fact, Windows 8 was introduced as a modern alternative to Windows 7. Company managers announced that it was actually an improved version of Windows 7 designed for modern world.
But Windows 8 faced serious problems that were not appropriate. This operating system didn’t have several important features of Windows 7 such as Start Menu or Aero feature that were determinative for users and changed Microsoft’s claims. Finally, users had to install some third-party similar applications to return Start Menu in Windows 8. This unexpected problem resulted in resignation of the head of Microsoft Windows department.
A year later, Microsoft made an attempt to solve the main issues of Windows 8 which received the most criticism and released Windows 8.1. Start Button (not Start Menu though) was back, and some improvements were applied to make it more easy to use.
However, like its previous version, Windows 8.1 failed to get much attention and didn’t turn into an appropriate OS for touchscreen devices, and many users still preferred Windows 7. Maybe, Microsoft thought that touchscreen displays would become more common in computer world in near future and people wouldn`t use the mouse and keyboard anymore. So it was clear that Microsoft needed a new start to design an operating system which would respect users` needs and meet them as far as possible.
Windows: an Integrated Platform, a Family
Microsoft announced Windows 10 for the first time in the end of September 2014 and decided to skip Windows 9 for unknown reasons. On July 15, Windows 10 was in RTM phase, but it was never announced officially. They said that build 10240 (Windows 10 preview version) was actually RTM version which was going to be released on July 29 and that was true.
Finally, Windows 10 came to the market and showed Miscrosoft`s attention to PC and laptop users from all around the world. This time, in addition to full touchscreen experience of Windows 8, there was a classic desktop for those who use the mouse and keyboard. By creating Windows 10, Microsoft made difficult, but important decisions. The new member of Microsoft family was more similar to Windows 7 rather than its previous generation Windows 8, and in fact, it was an effort to get attention of Windows 7 users who haven’t upgraded to Windows 8. But what happened to Windows 9?
The fact is that Microsoft took a great risk by releasing Windows 10. Microsoft took two steps forward instead of one to show greatness of Windows 10 and draw attention to it. Although Windows 10 is designed for users who use the mouse and keyboard, but it is amazing for tablet users as well. Unlike Windows 8 which was designed only for touchscreen devices, Windows 10 is perfect for both types of devices and its performance is extraordinary in both modes (touchscreen and mouse/keyboard classic modes).
We all know Windows 8 was frustrating. Microsoft knew this issue very well too. Windows 10 is the last effort of biggest software company in the world to compensate mistakes of the past.
Windows 10 is designed to create a similar experience from different devices and it includes not only computers, but tablets, smartphones, Xbox and devices based on Internet of Things (IoT). Microsoft aims to provide an integrated platform to users with Windows 10 and a unified store to let users access the same apps and games on all devices.
Now we’re going to review all new and most important features of Windows 10.
Let’s start with Desktop. It is the first thing that you see after logging in into your account and it’s where you spend almost all your time while using your computer.
There was a strange dichotomy between Desktop and User Interface (with touch focus) in Windows 8/8.1 when users switched to Windows Store apps such as Music or Settings and it was confusing for many users. So Microsoft decided to run everything in an integrated environment called Desktop.
Now all apps run under Window environment, even some specific Windows Store programs such as Music and Settings. Like other normal apps on desktop, they can be resized, moved, minimized or closed easily, and desktop has turned into a base for all apps in Windows.
Windows User Interface also improved, and using it is easier than ever. Although we see a different UI (user interface), personally, I find it very easy to use.
Start Menu is back
Maybe, it’s not very important for some users, but bringing Start Menu back shows Microsoft’s obsession. Microsoft announced that bringing Start Menu back was one of the main reasons for users to upgrade to Windows 10, and extensive publicity around Start Menu return confirms that removing Start Menu from Windows 8 was a big mistake.
Start Menu has returned to Windows 10 with modern features. Now the classic design of Windows 7 Start Menu is combined with “live tiles” which come from Windows 8 Start screen. In other words, it’s a combination of Windows 8 Start Screen and Windows 7 Start Menu. However, new changes of Windows 10 are not limited to its Start Menu, new menus, icons and fonts have been added to the new design.
You can have a list of most used apps and at the same time add shortcuts of your favorite programs to the personalized section of Start Menu what will let you access them faster.
You’ll see live tiles in the right part of Start Menu (you’ve seen them in Windows 8.1 before), and you can personalize some of them like in Windows 8.1 Start Screen.
You’ll be able to move live tiles, add/remove apps to the list and even change the size of Start Menu. You can make it higher or wider or even much smaller. Now it’s you who determine everything! If you want to use Windows 8.1 Start Screen, it will be available through Settings.
Although Microsoft changed some Start Menu actions in Windows 10 compared to Windows 7, they kept main principles and users won’t be confused like with Windows 8. New Start Menu lets you run programs in desktop environment quickly; and thanks to live tiles, you’ll be able to see a preview of them.
It’s super easy to use Start Menu and even users who don’t like it for any reason, Windows 8 Start Screen is up there. Microsoft embedded many personalization features to appearance and visual effects of Start Menu what lets users change colors, transparency and apply different effects. Search is also available in the new Start Menu and is placed in the task-bar; it displays results while you’re typing.
Some changes and improvements have been made to Windows File Explorer. One of these improvements is Quick Access which helps you access files and folders that you open frequently. You can disable this feature or add files or folders to it.
Another positive point of Windows 10 File Explorer is better support of OneDrive. There’s no specific app for OneDrive in Windows 10, therefore all related tasks will be handled by File Explorer.
From now all files that you get from OneDrive will be saved on your disk drive. You can set options for its automatic download as well. However, it doesn`t seem to be an interesting feature in terms of security and privacy.
Multiple Desktops with Task View
Till now, we have introduced those improved features of Windows 10 which you’ve seen in Windows 7 or 8.1 before. Now we’re going to take a look at unique features of Windows 10.
Multiple Desktops is a feature which can be found in competing operating systems like Ubuntu. Due to high demand during last years, Microsoft decided to equip its new operating system with this feature. You can access it through Task View button which is embedded in the left part of the taskbar. It lets you create new desktops and easily switch between them with only one click. There’s also some combination keys for this purpose.
You can easily create multiple desktops and manage your apps with Task View. For example, you can have 3 different desktops (one for web surfing, one for gaming and another for general tasks), and each desktop will have its specific settings. What`s more, you can run a specific program in different desktops at the same time and without any problems. It also lets you move apps between different desktops by drag-and-dropping.
Task View is mostly designed for professional users who run multiple programs at the same time, but it’s definitely useful and functional for ordinary users too. Of course, this feature can be used for other purposes by office employees that you probably can guess what those purposes are!
Microsoft described Task View as an improved option of Alt + Tab (switching between windows), and it might be interesting to know that only 10% of users use Alt + Tab combination, so it seems that this is a smart action taken by Microsoft.
Task View lets you have an integrated taskbar to see running programs in different desktops; however, you’ll have a separated taskbar in each desktop too.
Cortana, Windows Digital Personal Assistant
Another new feature of Windows 10 is its intelligent personal assistant, Cortana. Although Cortana isn’t a new feature itself and we’ve seen it in Windows Phone since 2013, it’s the first time that Microsoft decided to apply it to computer world and desktop computers. This feature is great and after a while, won’t be able to leave it!
Cortana is your right hand in Windows 10 and she acts like a real personal assistant. She can be accessed through taskbar and, of course, you can remove it if you want.
When you run Cortana for the first time, she’ll ask some questions to get to know your character better and after that she will be ready to help you with all your daily tasks. She’ll get to know you better every day and save new information. Of course, you can ask her not to save your personal information as well!
You might probably ask what type of tasks she can handle. You can request her to monitor news, exchange market or weather report, focus on a specific event and give you the latest updates on that event. She can type for you and remind you about your notes and appointments.
Also, she can monitor and find best flight, travel and transport itineraries and answer your questions by searching the web. She is really a perfect right hand and always has an answer for anything you ask.
Another feature that came to Windows 10 from Windows Phone is ‘Action Center’. It displays all notifications, messages and alarms and makes it easier to access all of them in one place.
It’s easy to manage all notifications with only one click in Action Center while some of them don’t even need to be clicked to be shown.
Action Center also uses a modern theme of Windows 10 which is a dark theme with transparent windows with fading effect.
Microsoft Edge – A Fresh Browser
The new Microsoft operating system is equipped to a completely new web browser which not only uses a new engine, but is embedded into a new user interface. Thanks to its new engine, Edge works very fast, and according to Microsoft, it’ll even be faster and will be able to support extensions with new improvements in the future.
Tabs are placed on top of the page and the address bar and navigation buttons are shown right under it. It’s easy to bookmark and save pages through the address bar; the favorites list, history and downloads are in Hub section.
Inking is another new feature of the Edge browser which lets users highlight web content. With this feature you’ll be able to easily draw a line under or around content all around the web, and it’ll be very helpful on touchscreen devices.
Also don’t forget that Cortana is there on the Edge browser, too, and she`s always ready to assist you!
Microsoft redesigned Windows Store which is another step forward to similar experience among all devices with Windows 10 platform. ‘One Store’ is now an integrated place which lets you access all programs, games, movies and music in one place.
Moreover, Windows Store gives an opportunity to buy movies and music albums. You won`t need any other programs for that anymore. Microsoft gives independent developers an opportunity to put their Desktop programs in Store. Downloaded Desktop apps will be run in isolated environment in a visual machine to increase security.
More Personalized Than Ever with Windows Hello
This new feature recognizes users and provides personal and safe environment for each of them what lets them experience the highest level of personalization.
Windows Hello scans the fingerprint, face and even iris to recognize users. However, your device should be equipped to specific hardware to be able to use this feature.
DirectX Programming Interface
Windows 10 is important not only for home users, but for gamers as well. The new version of DirectX lets gamers and developers expect a big change in graphics performance in the future. DirectX 12 lets game developers use system hardware resources in a much more optimized way. Microsoft promises that process loading of the central processor will decrease by 50% and graphics processor unit will increase by 20%. So, DirectX 12 will be a free upgrade for your current hardware as well as a great potential for future hardware.
DirectX 12 is supported on consoles, tablets and even smartphones equipped to Windows 10. The first thing that we know about DirectX 12 is that its task is to decrease pressure on CPU when it’s working with a powerful graphics card, so it’s able to use all potential of CPU. Also, it lets developers manage hardware resources better and lets them access low level of hardware resources which results in faster and more optimized codes from developers.
There’re many other small and big changes and improvements in Windows 10 which you’ll find while using it. For example, dark theme is Windows 10 default theme, but there are several other beautiful themes which let you change Windows environment for a change. Dark theme is also used in Edge browser and other parts of Windows 10, but you can change the theme of those parts too, so prepare yourself for an interesting adventure with Windows 10!
Windows 10 also includes new menus in different sections. For example, click on apps that are on the taskbar – and a preview of them will be displayed without running them. Windows 10 default icons have changed several times during test builds and what you see now is the best. Windows margins became smaller in Windows 10 and with new user interface, you’ll see beautiful effects while doing actually anything in Windows.
Windows Media Player supports MKV and FLAC formats in Windows 10, but it still needs more improvements to become a functional default application.
Microsoft aims to remove Control Panel. Although it’s still available in Windows 10, it’ll probably be removed with next updates. That’s why users will be directed to Settings for applying changes. Also, it must be said that applying some changes on different parts of Windows is only available through Settings, so it’s better to get familiar with this section as much as possible and then you`ll do just fine when Control Panel is removed.
Microsoft really did a great job with Windows 10 and used many factors to create the best platform with impressive performance. Windows 10 is an absolutely amazing combination of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 and if we imagine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 getting married, without a doubt their child will be Windows 10!
Windows 10 shows that Microsoft has learnt from its past mistakes and compensated many of them. Its most important result may be reconciling with users that use the mouse and keyboard. Since Microsoft is going to improve Windows 10 on a regular basis, we can expect even better performance and more features in it in the future.
In the end, I would recommend you to not miss an opportunity to use the newest Microsoft OS which lets you discover a new world in operating systems.
What do you think about new features of Windows 10? Do you recommend others to upgrade to Windows 10? What are the main differences between Windows 7, 8 and 10 in your opinion? Feel free to share your thoughts in comments below.