If you haven’t been tinkering around with the Windows 10 Technical Preview, or have followed along with us tech bloggers covering it, you know that it’s been a frustrating and somewhat harrowing experience.
The Windows 10 Consumer Preview Event however, has put me at ease that Microsoft understands that Windows 10 has to be different. While we didn’t see as much of Windows 10 as I would’ve liked at the event, we saw enough to see that Microsoft has a bold mission for the future of the OS.
Let’s look at the major announcements and what this means for Windows 10 as we get closer and closer to seeing a final version of the most used OS in the world.
6 Things Windows 10 Will Bring us
Free Upgrade for Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 Users
The first thing to know about Windows 10 is that will, in fact, be free for all Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users who upgrade within the first year. This was initially confusing at first, because Microsoft didn’t address – and still hasn’t in many ways – what will happen after that first year. What happens if you wait to upgrade has yet to be addressed but Microsoft says that once you upgrade, you will have access to patches and updates to keep the OS current through the lifetime of your device.
By offering a free year to consumers still using Windows 7, 8 and 8.1, this pretty much captures the majority of Windows users. The word free helps, too. I expect to see a spike of upgrades in the first few months, especially among 8/8.1 users. After that, it’ll be interesting to see what the price point is and if that still encourages users to give Windows 10 a try.
Windows 10 Start Menu Full Screen Mode
We finally saw a good look of the Windows 10 Start Menu and its options. The Windows 10 Start Menu still looks like it did in the Windows 10 Technical Preview but now you can use it in regular and full screen mode.
For those of us who like Windows 8 and use a touchscreen PC, this is wonderful news and still gives us a sort of Start Screen to use like what we’ve grown used to. For those who don’t want to use it, you don’t have to, but the choice is now yours, something Microsoft took away in Windows 8/8.1.
Continuum, as of now, will only work on two-in-one devices, such as tablets like the Surface Pro 3. It’ll let you go back and forth between Windows 10 modes seamlessly, making it easier to use Windows 10 the way it was intended from device-to-device.
This will make it easy to go from keyboard to touch and back again. For those who use two-in-one devices, this is a great way to stay productive and efficient when going about your day. However, we didn’t see anything really new about Continuum, other than it still being part of the Windows 10 experience. It will be interesting to see how it evolves till the time the final version of Windows 10 hits the market.
While Microsoft had been hinting for months about bringing Cortana to Windows 10, they finally confirmed it at the event. Cortana will function similar to Google Now on PCs, being fully integrated into the taskbar and utilizing voice commands for users. At the moment, Cortana in Windows 10 will still utilize Bing for results, which may not always garner the best results for consumers looking for places to eat, mapping locations and performing search queries.
However, as was shown during the event, Cortana has been tweaked in many ways for the PC to make it stronger. It’ll be able to find files across all access points on your computer, along with OneDrive. Joe Belfiore tested several queries out at the event to showcase just what Cortana can do on a PC that it can’t quite do on mobile devices, yet. You’ll also be able to tell Cortana what to do for you, such as launching apps, muting sound and more.
It appears Spartan will come pre-loaded on Windows 10 PCs and devices, allowing users to skirt away from using IE. There’s no word on whether IE will be gone completely, if Spartan is replacing IE, or if you’ll be able to download a standalone version of IE updated for Windows 10 usage.
Spartan, however, will come fully loaded with voice support, note taking capabilities that allow you to write in the browser if you’re using a touchscreen, and will take advantage of Reading Mode in Windows 8 to make reading on the Web better. Cortana will also integrate into Spartan, allowing you to perform queries through it.
Universal Windows Apps
Universal Windows Apps are part of the Windows platform now, so you’ll want to get used to it. However, Microsoft is working to make these apps truly universal, so that when you go from device-to-PC or vice versa, it’s a better transition.
Office, Photos, OneDrive and Skype are two such apps they demonstrated at the event, and the results are pretty impressive so far. There’s no telling how many Universal Windows Apps will launch with Windows 10 but this is a good thing for consumers.
Until we get our hands on the Windows 10 Consumer Preview, or the Technical Preview is updated to include some of the above, it’s hard to tell how practical and well integrated some of the new features and functionality in Windows 10 will work for consumers.
It’s clear Microsoft understands now the errors, especially when it came to public relations, with Windows 8/8.1 and is looking to correct them with Windows 10. Offering it for free for a year certainly helps.