Back to all articles

Windows 10 is Almost Here


IIt seems soon, we know, but it looks like 2015 will be the year Windows 10 releases to the public.

Donít ask about Windows 9, we donít know either.

Dubious mathematics aside, Windows 10 is shaping up to be the truly modern OS that Windows 8 was meant to be. Windows 7 & 8 users will also get to upgrade for free for the first year following the Windows 10 release, which is just more evidence that Microsoft is keen to reverse some of the bad press Windows 8 generated for the company.

The key idea underpinning the new Windows version seems to be unification. MIcrosoft wants Windows 10, in one form or another, on every device you own. Your Windows phone, tablet, Xbox and Zune (not really) will now talk to each other and have a similar interface look.

Thereís also the surprising announcement of a new augmented reality interface for Windows 10 along with the Microsoft HoloLens hardware platform that supports it. Apart from this really new technology no one was really expecting there are some features worth highlighting. Please remember that things could still change between now and Windows 10ís mid-2015 release.

The Start Menu is Back!
Thatís right, probably the single most requested feature in Windows 8 is back in Windows 10. Yes, technically the Windows 8.1 update returned the start button, but that wasnít really what people wanted. The Metro interface isnít actually gone, but the old desktop UI and new Metro UI are now actually integrated instead of awkwardly living next to each other. The option to switch to the full-screen Metro interface is there, which is good since it was actually great for Windows tablets and HTPCs.

Virtual Desktops
A beloved feature of Linux users for almost a decade now, Windows 10 includes a virtual desktop feature. If youíve never worked with virtual desktops youíd better know thereís no going back. Itís an especially great feature for laptops on the road, where you donít usually have multiple screens.

Itís All Flat
This isnít really a feature as such, but Microsoft has succumbed to the same fashion sense as Apple and flattened out the UI even more. Like it or not, it seems the flat UI trend will be with us for a while yet.

A Better Command Prompt
You can now enable copy and paste in the command prompt. Wow, did it really take this long to include this feature? Power users will be dancing in the streets.

Spartan and Cortana
Microsoft is really embracing the Halo references in this version of Windows, but hey Bill Gates was in a Doom promo video back when Windows 95 came out, so itís not that strange.

Spartan is the replacement for Internet Explorer, essentially the equivalent of Safari from Apple. Similarly it will be multi-device and come on Windows tablets and phones. Generally it seems that Spartan is intended to fall in line with more modern browsers such as Chrome and Firefox. We donít know much yet, but perhaps itíll be good enough so that people donít just use it to download Chrome and then never touch it again as with IE.

Cortana is Microsoftís Siri. Now however, sheíll be present on all your devices and the demoís weíve seen really show an improvement in natural language processing ability for the software. This shouldnít be surprising if youíve also seen the HoloLens demo. Microsoft has put a lot of time and money into this, they just didnít make much noise until now.

DirectX 12
The new version of DirectX of course brings better high-end graphics, which is to be expected, but it also moves the focus to mobile devices such as tablets and phones, which is where many of us now consume 3D graphics. Windows 10 is also much more tightly integrated with Xbox. The experience of gaming on a Windows 10 PC is now likely to be closer to that of using an Xbox One in some ways. How much remains to be seen.

A Perfect 10?
Most early impressions of the Technical Review release of Windows 10 seem highly positive, but until the gold master gets into the hands of the general public we wonít know if Microsoft is on to a winner this time. What we do know for sure is that Windows 10 promises the freshest experience on a PC in decades. It seems Microsoft has decided to aim for the stars with this one, weíre excited to see if they succeed.