Windows 8 was a rather disastrous release for Microsoft, and with the company completely rebranding its next operating system as Windows 10, this next OS is intended to deliver a significantly improved user experience. It will be a while until the full version of Windows 10 hits the market, but how does it compare to the existing Windows-based operating system?
The first thing to note about Windows 10 is that it has an extremely difficult task on its hands. Microsoft is experiencing a challenging period in its existence, with its profitable business model of many years, and indeed decades, being seriously compromized for the first time. A multi-device world in which mobile platforms are just as, if not more, important as desktop computing ensures that Microsoft must change rather nimbly if it is to keep up with the desires and demands of consumers.
Additionally, the hegemony of Windows as an operating system is being challenged by Apple Macs, while the previous abysmal reception which was afforded to Windows 8 is casting something of the shadow over Microsoft’s flagship operating system.
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Windows 10 – Start Menu
With Windows 10, Apple has at least listened to the impassioned pleas of its customers. It was nothing short of a disastrous decision to ditch the Start menu from Windows 8, and it makes a welcome reappearance with this new operating system release. The Start screen which was included in Windows 8 made absolutely no sense when utilizing a mouse and keyboard, and Microsoft had effectively alienated its core desktop audience.
Windows 10 features a Start menu that incorporates the Live Tiles of the Windows 8 Start Screen, which can optionally be made to fill the whole screen. Early impressions of this system is that it is extremely intuitive compared to its predecessor, and Microsoft has ensured that using a mouse trackpad with the operating system release is considerably easier.
Windows 10 – Tablet Mode
Windows 8 attempted to be all things to all people and failed, while Windows 10 must embrace mobile devices while ensuring that it does not alienate its central audience. Microsoft has clearly given this some serious consideration, and decided to include a new modem specifically aimed at tablets. This makes it more user-friendly for tablet users to utilize this version of Windows. But crucially, Microsoft has also realized that desktop users do not necessarily want to be encumbered with this feature, and have therefore made it easy to switch off tablet mode.
This new feature works particularly well, especially on hybrid setups, as the operating system enables one to pick the right mode for what is being done, rather than sticking to one or the other. Flexibility is clearly a byword in this particular release, and many people will say that this is not a moment too soon.
Windows 10 – Universal Apps
Another aspect of Windows 10 which is intended to deliver universality is the concept of universal apps. These are intended to ensure that software runs with equal efficiency and validity across multiple platforms. Microsoft is still developing this function, and it should be very much viewed as a work-in-progress. But the ethos of universal apps would seem to be a step in the right direction, after the touchscreen-friendly Windows 8 Store apps, which were rather niggly in desktop mode.
Windows 10 – Cortana
Microsoft is strongly pushing its Cortana virtual assistant in recent advertising campaigns, and this will be a central part of the new Windows 10 portfolio. This is a feature that was initially introduced by Microsoft on its range of rather unsuccessful smartphones, and it will now be a critical component of its desktop packages as well.
Cortana can be used to search your PC for files and apps and launch web searches, but it also monitors user behavior on every PC. It then intuitively provides useful information such as weather reports, alerts for meetings, and the directions for destinations based on this data.
Of course, one would not reasonably expect there to be a few teething troubles with such an ambitious piece of software, and it would be unwise to expect Cortana to work perfectly from the day of release. The natural language element of which Cortana is capable is a relatively intuitive addition to the Windows 10 armory, and one that busy people in particular will find useful.
Windows 10 – Notifications
Microsoft has also clearly thought about notifications, and has thus created a new central notifications area. This is intended to provide alerts for e-mails, Windows updates, and any relevant security flags.
This has been very much inspired by smartphone interfaces, and the chance to update the Windows operating system to make it a more intuitive and user-friendly piece of software. This is a particularly useful addition to the Windows portfolio of functions, and one that pretty much all users will find some use for.
Windows 10 – Xbox app
Microsoft is also attempting to ensure that Windows is calibrated to collaborate with its Xbox One video games console. This is not only a boon for PC users, it is pretty much a financial necessity for Microsoft considering that the Xbox One is being hammered by PlayStation 4 in the marketplace.
This new app is effectively a gaming hub for the operating system, and enables PC users to track Xbox gaming stats, chat to friends, view Xbox activity, and a graph of all the gaming-related options. Gamers will now also be able to stream Xbox One games direct from their console to their PC. This is intended to ensure that it is possible to play Xbox exclusive games on PC platforms, as well as playing Xbox games while someone else is using your TV.
Windows 10 – Conclusion
Apple has included several new features in Windows 10, and many of the problems from Windows 8 have been eliminated completely. Even some of the touching up of existing features has been done in a thoughtful and diligent fashion, and this looks like it will be a Windows release that restores the reputation of the Windows range.