The Future of the PC – Windows 10
By Don Trauger – Kennett
Microsoft is going to get it’s operating system right this time. Consumers liked Windows XP and Windows 7. They hated Windows Vista and Windows 8 although Windows 8.1 is somewhere in the neutral zone. Microsoft has made Windows 10 (W10) available for free to test and send feedback to Microsoft. The feedback system seems to be working with users who communicate their likes and dislikes. In the meantime Microsoft is continually updating W10 with new features. W10 will remain in a test phase for the next 6-8 months before the final version is released on new PC’s. This is the first time Microsoft has bent over backwards to communicate and listen to users about a new operating system.
Now for the real good news. Microsoft has decided to make W10 available to current users of Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 for FREE when it’s released. The free upgrade will last for a year after the release date. The only concern I have is whether your programs installed on your current system will remain intact after the upgrade. Your files and other data should be no problem.
Let’s take a look at some of the new features of W10.
W10 atones for one of Windows 8’s greatest sins by returning the Start menu to its rightful spot in the lower left-hand corner of the desktop. But rather than focusing on desktop apps alone, the Windows 10 Start Menu mixes in a dash of the tile screen’s functionality, sprinkling Live Tiles of Windows 8-style apps next to shortcuts of the more traditional PC software. These tiles (apps) can be turned off and make the Desktop screen appear like Windows 7 or you can have something in between. The choice is yours.
In Windows 10, launching a Live Tile app on your PC opens it in a desktop window, rather than dumping you into a full-screen app. Previously users got “lost” in the full-screen mode wondering what to click. The windowed apps have a mouse-friendly toolbar of options across the top, and even alter their interface to best fit the size of the window.
W10 includes a handy “Continuum” feature that dynamically switches the interface between the PC-friendly desktop and a Windows 8-like mode that’s better suited for fingers, depending on how you’re using the device. In other words W10 will adjust itself automatically if you are using a touchscreen or a mouse-friendly mode.
The Action Center, shown as a white flag icon near the clock in Windows 8 (8.1), will be expanded and become more useful in W10.
Cortana, Microsoft’s clever voice controlled digital assistant, will be introduced in W10 where she assumes control of the operating system’s search functions. Cortana will want to access your personal info, then use that info along with her Bing-powered cloud smarts to intelligently locate information you’re searching and perform other helpful tasks. Cortana can help you call a friend, schedule a reminder, set an alarm, check your calendar, compare stocks, and more, all via natural language queries you ask using text or voice commands.
One of the odder design decisions within Windows 8 was the separation of Settings into two buckets, one each for the Desktop and the tile interfaces. With W10, that goes away. Now, there is one Settings menu, available from the Start button. The annoying Charms menu has vanished.
I’ve highlighted a few of the new features of W10. There will be more coming as Microsoft works toward the final build-out of W10.
See the newest build of W10 at the March PC Club meeting. We meet on the second Tuesday of every month at 7 PM, upstairs in the Ardmore room of the Community Center. We will also try to answer any problems that you may be experiencing with your current PC.