Windows 10 is available since the last week of January for users who signed up for the pre-release. Microsoft’s new OS is still in development, so a lot of news and features are expected to be revealed over the upcoming months. But for the moment, we can say that Microsoft’s goal is to create a seamless user experience across all Windows devices. This year, Windows Phone will disappear and it will be replaced by Windows 10, which will arrive on PCs and phones.
Windows 10’s predecessor, Windows 8, was already a huge change to the traditional Windows system, and it was the first step towards this cross-platform synchronization, but it didn’t work. Microsoft is still trying to create an OS that works well on both mobile devices and PCs and they are making a big effort to connect all their platforms more seamlessly, which is part of their universal apps program. As a result, Office, Outlook, and other apps all work quite similarly across devices. About Windows 10 on tablets and hybrids, it still seems a work in progress.
According to Microsoft, some of Windows 10 new features will include a customizable full-size background image for the Start screen, access to more Quick Actions in the Action Center, interactive notifications that allow you to reply to messages, alarms, calendar alerts, etc. right from the pop up notification, and better speech-to-text features “so you don’t have to type again”.
There will also be an audio recording app, new context menus or keyboards that you can move around the screen. The new Action Center will provide quick access to more options: we had just four quick actions on Windows Phone 8.1, now we’ll have 10, including Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and other settings. Notifications on the phone will sync with your PC, allowing you to dismiss or expand items, which will instantly show up on other devices. The most recently installed apps will appear at the top, making everything easier to find.
We also know that Cortana, Microsoft’s personal digital assistant (already available on phones), will now be on PCs too. It will be next to the start button on the task bar and it will answer spoken or typed queries, searching documents across local documents as well as ones stored on OneDrive. It will be proactive, so it will propose webs and other suggestions, and it will be integrated into the new Maps app, reminding you where you parked your car. Windows is slowly replacing Internet Explorer with the new Project Spartan browser. Project Spartan for Windows 10 is a cleaner browser with new features and integration with other Microsoft services. Cortana will be integrated, so together they will provide you extra information that may be of your interest, based on your habits.
OneDrive will still be the centre of Microsoft’s unified apps, allowing documents to sync across devices. Photos will upload to OneDrive, and the photo app will add pictures from all devices, remove duplicates and organize them automatically into albums. Skype will integrate into the messaging app, and a new feature called Continuum, specifically designed for convertible devices, will switch almost instantly from a mouse and keyboard to a tablet screen.
About games, Microsoft owns a big part of the computer and console gaming markets, so they will release an Xbox app for all the Windows 10 devices. You’ll be able to chat on Xbox Live, view console achievements, record your own clips on the PC and stream games from your Xbox to a Windows tablet.
As we said, Windows 10’s main goal is to make PCs, tablets and phones work well together, so Microsoft is building universal apps that we can use on all the devices. The first one was the unified Office, with phone, tablet and desktop versions looking very similar. Office, with Word, Excel and PowerPoint will be included on all Windows 10 phones. The recent documents will sync between devices, so you can work on the go. You will even be able to print documents wirelessly from mobile.
First impressions on Windows 10
People who have already tried Windows 10 declare it’s been a positive experience. These users declare that the visual changes have improved the experience, and that the renewed visual design is pleasing, because the new OS has erased some of the excesses of Windows 8. Windows 10’s start menu will now expand to a full-screen view that looks like Windows 8.1’s home screen.
The navigation has also improved: on Windows 8, you moved the mouse to a corner and had to wait for something to appear, but the gradual emergence of the Windows 10 navigation paradigm feels right. It works better on touchscreens, where you can switch tasks with a simple swipe and tap. So, as a whole, the desktop experience is better. At least now, we’ll have a Start menu and all the modern apps in a window, but not all the desktop full of those tiles. Windows 10 looks like a quite good mix of Windows 8’s apps/live tiles and a classic Windows desktop.
We still have no news about the general public release date, and Microsoft has yet to publish a list of devices that will support the Windows 10 preview for mobile.
The latest rumours point out that Windows 10 will be released on June, but that leaves only four more months to develop and improve an OS that is still missing key parts. AppFutura was able to test the new Windows 10 on a computer at the Barcelona Mobile World Congress, taking place this week. While rumours suggested that they could offer an early preview of Windows 10 running on a smartphone, we were only able to test it on a desktop device. Our first thought on it is Windows has learned from its mistakes and has taken a step back regarding the infamous Metro interface. Metro is still available, but it is now more of a complement.
At this moment, Microsoft is releasing several technical previews so designers and developers can get feedback from beta testers. Experts say that the June date might be a public preview to be followed by several more preview releases before Windows 10 is offered as a free update to the general public in the fall. It seems that October will mark the beginning of a major marketing push from Microsoft and will start the one-year clock on Microsoft's free Windows 10 upgrade offer for consumers running Windows 7 and 8.1.