July 29 is here and that means Windows users around the world have the chance to experience a new Windows from today. Now that the official OS has been released, its time to take a look at the new features in Windows 10 and what Microsoft has done since Windows 8.1 to offer a better experience for us all. For starters, users who own Windows phones and tablets will be happy to know that Windows 10 works the same on all devices - PCs, Windows tablets and Windows Phones.
So if you work on files on OneDrive or Microsoft Office apps, your files will be synced with all Windows gadgets and easily accessible from any of them. Another cool thing about this upgrade is that should you choose to turn your hybrid tablet into a mini desktop PC by plugging in a keyboard and mouse, Windows 10 will be able to recognize the change and make the transition to the Desktop mode smoothly.
Eye Catching Enhancements and New Features in Windows 10
The Start Menu
The Start menu that was badly missed by Windows users in the Windows 8.1 version makes a comeback in Windows 10, although not in its original form. Microsoft has taken the Start menu of the past and mashed it with the Start screen from Windows 8 with the result that you can now access quick links to the most recently used programs and apps, the file manager, documents, settings, and power options from the left side of the Start menu and check out live updates via the Windows tiles on the right side of the menu. You can also change your account settings, lock your device and sign out of your account by clicking your account name at the top of the menu. Learn more here.
If you want quick access to apps or programs in the start menu, you have the usual option of right-clicking the app or program and pinning it. Apps pinned to the Start menu will show up as a tile on the right side of the menu. You can right-click the tile to change its size and drag it around to move it to another location and even group them.
Task view is an improvement over the Alt+Tab feature in previous versions of Windows. Now if you have too many open Windows, programs and apps, you don’t have to go through the painful Alt+Tab cycle to switch to another program. You can simply click on the Task view button that’s pinned to the Taskbar to see thumbnails of all your open windows. Then just click on it to make the switch.
Users who multitask often end up with a disorganized desktop. That’s why Microsoft is now allowing users to make use of multiple desktops on Windows 10. This is certainly going to be everyone’s favorite feature as you can now have separate desktops for work, personal use, projects as so on. To create a new desktop, select Task view from the taskbar, and then click Add a desktop. A thumbnail will show up at the bottom of the task view page. Click the Desktop 2 thumbnail to open up a new desktop. To switch between desktops, you can click the Task view button and then choose a desktop from the bottom of the page.
Microsoft is offering a new browser experience for users of Windows 10 with its Edge browser, which is designed for speedy browsing. This is a minimalist browser that hides its menus to offer a clean look and offer quick load times. Edge also comes with some pretty cool features such as the ability to take notes on a web page, save and share it, distraction-free reading, and Cortana integration. Additionally, you can save any webpage or PDF file in your reading list to check out later on.
Searching for any programs, apps or on the web was easy in Windows 8 but just got a lot more intuitive in Windows 10, thanks to the Search bar now placed handily inside the taskbar.
Windows Snap, the feature that lets you resize your Windows to accommodate two halves of the screen space has just gotten better for users who multitask. Users can now snap up to 4 programs on the screen and Windows will even offer recommendations on how to fill the remaining space. Snapping is the same as before. You click and hold the top of the window and drag it to either the side or corner of the screen. You’ll see a shadow of where the window will snap; you then release the window to snap it into place.
The File Explorer has a slightly new look with options to pin locations to the Quick Access (formerly Favorites) menu on the left pane. The right pane now holds your most frequently used folders and files making it so much more easier to access stuff.
As we discussed in the beginning of this post, Windows 10 can now recognize and re-adjust itself when you switch between tablet and desktop mode on 2 in 1 devices.
Windows Universal Apps
Windows Store apps have now gone universal which means that there will no longer be a mobile and desktop version of an app. You can download the app on any device and use it across your desktop, mobile, tablet or laptop. Windows 10 apps are now capable of running in windows just like their desktop counterparts. You’ll find all the familiar controls to resize the windows, view the title bars, maximize, minimize and close it.
Microsoft has also worked hard on improving the app experience for users particularly its Mail and Calendar apps, which are now less clunky and easier to use. The Mail app now supports POP while Calendar includes Google Calendar integration. There’s also an improved Photo app and Groove music app built into the OS.
Gaming and Xbox
Windows 10 users can now get the best and greatest Xbox games on their PC thanks to the built in support for the Xbox controller. Users will also be able to stream Xbox One games to a Windows 10 PC, laptop, or tablet, start a game on one device and complete it on the Xbox. With the Xbox app for Windows, gamers can track scores and achievements, see what their friends are playing and chat with the gaming community.
Microsoft’s virtual assistant, Cortana has been around on its phones but is now making its way to Windows 10. This means you can access her directly from the desktop with either a click or a voice command. You can get plenty of boring stuff done with Cortana including asking for directions, getting a weather update, creating reminders, opening files and so on.
Windows Defender continues to be part of the Windows OS working right out of the box to keep you protected. Microsoft SmartScreen is another feature that protects you against phishing attacks by performing a reputation check, and blocking sites that are suspect. It will also protect you against socially-engineered downloads of malicious software.
The InstantGo feature maintains your network connectivity when the screen is off or in standby mode. This ensures that your Windows 10 OS can update things in the background so that you don’t miss anything.
A quick run down of the new features in Windows 10 will give you the impression that its simply a refinement of its previous operating system. Microsoft has done away with many of the annoying features in Windows 8 such as Charms and the Start screen and integrated them into places where it makes more sense to use them. You still get the old familiar Windows 10 experience but there are plenty of tweaks that makes it easier to use. If you own a Windows 8 device, you’d do well to grab the latest upgrade, not simply for the fact that its free, but for the fact that it feels like Home.