Keep in mind a Technical Preview is just that – nothing is set in stone and nothing I’m talking about today is guaranteed be in the final release. However, you can get a good idea of where Microsoft is going with this new release and so far I’m happy to see what they have done and the direction they are heading.
Before we get too far let me say that the Start Menu is back! Everyone break out the champagne and biscuits! Microsoft has heard the complaints loud and clear and has reinstated a revamped Windows 7 start menu (Figure 1). Taking bits from Windows 7 and Windows 8, the new Start menu is both functional and fresh. As you can see in Figure 1, you have your list of commonly used applications and the incredibly handy search field. On the right, you will see Windows 8 influences including Live Tiles. Clicking the All Apps button will show you both Apps and traditional applications. You can still pin items to the Start menu but now they go on the right hand side.
Apps vs. Applications
Windows 8 Apps only ran in full screen on Windows 8 unless you purchased or downloaded a third party app. In Windows 10, Windows apps are still installed through the Windows Store but they can run windowed just like full-blown applications (Figure 2).
When you perform searches now (including in the Start Menu), you will receive results for files, apps, applications and Windows Store content. Although Windows 8 had this, the search seems a bit more relevant and appropriate. There is also a search icon right on the desktop. This allows you to search your computer and the web at the same time. Included are results for popular links – for example if I type “notepad” into the search bar it will give me results of items on my computer but it will also return store results and below that web results (Figure 3). If I wanted to download “notepad++” I could just click the link and go.
Windows 10 introduces Task View – a feature found in many older operating systems but useful nonetheless. Task View allows you to create virtual desktops. Any applications you open on one desktop will stay there and not interact or otherwise clutter up other desktops. As you can see in figure 4, I have two desktops open. One has Search and Settings open while the other (down at the bottom) has a file explorer open. You could open different desktops for different types of work – one desktop for browsing and email, one for your project, etc.
Other smaller changes abound as well as some large ones are yet to be enabled or implemented. Microsoft is talking up the ability for developers to develop for one platform –Windows 10—and be able to run that application on any Windows 10 device, whether it is a small phone, a tablet or a laptop. These so-called “Universal Apps” could be a huge boon to consumers, having only to purchase one version of the application to run on all of their Windows devices.
Microsoft has also teased about a new interface for convertible tablets, which are devices that are both touch enabled and have a removable keyboard.
We are still a ways off with Windows 10 as the release date has only been hinted to be “later 2015”… stay tuned for more coverage!