Windows 10 – What to expect
Newsfeeds across the world have lit up with the words “Windows 10” following the first day of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC) 2015. What seems to have really caused a resurgence in excitement for the Windows 10 launch is the peppy demo delivered by Bryan Roper…….oh and the announcement that Microsoft plans on “upgrading the world,” lest we forget to mention it! (I’ll come back to that point shortly)
For now, you may be asking yourself “What’s all this hype about? It’s just another version of Windows right?” Well, not necessarily! It’s not just any windows. Apparently, it’s your windows. Microsoft’s insider beta testing programme has allowed the user to have an active part in the development of Windows 10. The user has spoken and, it would appear that, Microsoft has listened.
I decided to write this blog to outline, in layman’s terms (because sometimes techies can get a bit carried away!), what you can expect from Windows 10, so here are a few things to get excited about!
Rejoice, the much loved Windows 7 start menu is back! The new start menu integrates the best of Windows 7 and Windows 8, giving you quick access to your documents, settings etc in addition to displaying your app tiles. This alone makes for quite a visually pleasing start menu while also bringing together the desktop and app interfaces which were universes apart in Windows 8.
Windows 10 will use the same operating system across all devices which sees the birth of Microsoft’s universal app experience. This is great news for developers who will now only need to write apps one time, with screen scaling allowing for transference across devices. As a user you can then expect visual continuity and familiarity of apps on all of your different devices.
This brings us nicely on to Continuum, Microsoft’s answer to creating a computer-tablet hybrid friendly environment. Continuum adapts to 2-in1 devices and eases the user’s transition from PC to tablet mode. For example, if you are using a Microsoft Surface with a keyboard and mouse, you will automatically be given the option to change to tablet mode when you disconnect the accessories. In tablet mode, the apps will then change to full screen allowing for an easier viewing experience and optimal usability. In addition, Continuum for Phones is an even better example of what is possible if developers embrace Microsoft’s universal app experience. When connected to a larger screen, Continuum for phones will allow smartphones operating on Microsoft’s latest OS to transform (like caterpillar to butterfly!) to a desktop PC.
All of these features tie in with the ethos Microsoft has approached Windows 10 with, which seems to be enhanced productivity. Two more new features, the Task View Button and Multiple Desktops, have been described by Roper as “ridiculously productive.” Personally, I would be lost without the use of the Alt+Tab shortcut to switch between open windows, which meant I was baffled by Microsoft’s finding that less than 6% of users actually employ this shortcut! Mind-blown…Luckily Microsoft love this shortcut too so in order to make this task management tool more transparent to users, they have created a brand new Task View button on the taskbar to do just that. From here (in task view) an icon now allows you to add another desktop. This productive feature, albeit a couple of years behind the Mac, works great on both single and multiple screens. The same apps can be open in multiple desktops and the virtual desktops are kept separate.
If you liked your little charms in Windows 8 (the icons that appear on the right-hand side of the screen) then you will be disappointed to learn of their disappearance in Windows 10. Fear not though, the same functions are now all contained in the new Action Center. In keeping with the “universal” theme, this notifications panel is designed to match the makeup of Notifications in Windows Phone.
While some charms are lost, another new virtual feature with plenty of charm is Microsoft’s assistant Cortana. Microsoft set out on a customer centred mission in their development of Cortana which came to life within Microsoft’s concept of humanising computing (and yes, her name was inspired by Halo!). Cortana is an assistant designed to complete tasks, take notes, help with workload and interact on your behalf. Cortana will complete local searches and will also provide Web search suggestions. She can be voice controlled and her capabilities shine through on hand-held devices.
Lastly, a shout out to our inner control freaks – the Settings App. Go ahead, roll your eyes and let out a grunt at the piece of crap that was the Windows 8 Settings App. TechRadar summed it up perfectly when they wrote “you basically opened it, realized you couldn’t do what you wanted to and went to the Control Panel.” Windows 10 sees a change for the better with settings arranged into nine separate areas which pretty much cover everything you will need. Thankfully Windows 10 presents a logical and comprehensive solution that will keep you from having to visit the control panel on a daily basis!
Oh I almost forgot! Microsoft plan on “upgrading the world” to Windows 10 starting July 29th. They announced the “Upgrade Your World” initiative to celebrate inspiring individuals who empower others. Microsoft will be holding “global fan celebrations” in 13 cities worldwide as part of the festivities. Included are London, Berlin, Sydney and New York – unfortunately an Irish city didn’t make the cut! #sadface. Their vision is to help people to achieve more through technology and as part of this Microsoft will be investing $10 million to support and raise awareness of the goals of over 100 non-profit organisations from around the world – #smileyface.
Here is the advert announced just today that you will soon see on screens across the globe…