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Windows 10: A varied experience

D-Day has been and gone for Microsoft’s latest operating system and so far with around 75 million downloads in the first month it appears to be a resounding success, obviously the free upgrade has helped to boost early adaptation. In fact Microsoft’s reservation system most likely tempered the initial rush as the process has deliberately delayed access in stages to prevent over extending their serves. Although the delay makes sense it didn’t take long for me to get annoyed with waiting and use the insider media creation tool to upgrade all my computers as I’m certain others have been doing since the 29th of July. Across my devices I have had a varied experience, including a few little teething problems, yet overall I’m impressed with how the OS has developed from early builds and the new developments that Windows 10 has brought to the PC.

DELL Studio – Intel Core Duo

My old laptop has taken a beating over the years and has been relegated to a portable DVD player over the last year but it has been useful to test out the preview builds of Windows 10. Over the last few months I’ve seen the changes Microsoft has brought to the task screen, notifications and settings all of which work towards making it easier for uses to access information. Many of these elements may have gone unnoticed after the return of the start menu but they more subtly blend elements from Windows 8 and introduce new features like multiple desktops to the Windows ecosystem. The start menu does definitely make the OS more easily adaptable to existing Windows 7 users but I personally feel that its  actually the ability of opening new Modern apps in a traditional windowed UI that makes Windows 10 a massive improvement as a desktop OS, after all who needs a 15″ calculator. The implementation of these developments alongside the noticeable improvements in speed and performance have resurrected my old laptop as if it was almost a new machine, it has even been brought off the bench and used properly for the first time in over a year.

Surface Pro 1 – Intel Core i5

Frustratingly, this has been the device I’ve had the most trouble with since upgrading which considering how much I use it at work has been a little inconvenient. Immediately after the upgrade I was having battery life problems, especially after any substantial period not in use, unfortunately the computer hasn’t been hibernating properly and randomly wakes up inside my case. However, this has been easily solved by shutting down which has only been a minor unconvinced especially since the surface boots so quickly. In addition,  the touch cover sometimes  remains active when flipped back behind the tablet and the screen’s touch points seemed to be less sensitive. Eventually this issues reached a tipping point and I choose to do a clean install using the reset feature built into windows. Despite the added hassle of re-installing all my important apps this has helped to clear the unwanted trash from my surface, freeing up space while solving all my problems.

Regardless of these little headaches I have been generally impressed with Windows 10’s changes to the modern UI introduced with Windows 8 as subtle developments make it blend more seamlessly with the desktop mode. The removal of the maligned charms bar is just the beginning as the desktop like taskbar and vertical scrolling also serve to tie in the start screen with the desktop interface and the revamped start menu. In the same way the notifications centre and task button new across the operating systems remains the same in both interfaces, these element make Windows 10 feel more cohesive and less the Jekyll and Hyde of its  predecessor. Beyond the look of the OS one of Microsoft’s biggest new features, Continuum really comes into its own on this type of hybrid device as it detects the presence of my type cover and changes the interface accordingly. The other major development that has improved usability is the opening of traditional windows applications in a full screen mode rather then automatically kicking the user into the desktop mode. These improvements are more then enough for anyone using a hybrid or touch device to take advantage of the free upgrade and leave Windows 8 behind.

Dell Inspiration 2310 All In One

In recent months my Dell all in one has been struggling so the upgrade to Windows 10 provided an ideal opportunity to do a clean install. Once I finished the upgrade my experience on the desktop has been very similar to my old laptop with a noticeable improvement in performance. The main feature of windows 10 I wanted to test out on the desktop was Xbox streaming which works exceptionally well depending on your home network. Originally, after connecting to my Xbox One and performing a test my network did not even support the minimum requirements. Much to my surprise this did not prevent me from streaming as it was still possible to play the original Perfect Dark thanks to Rare Replay with some shuttering. This was never going to satisfy me, so after a quick network upgrade I was glade to find my system now capable of the achieving the extra high resolute introduced in Microsoft’s update.

Final Thoughts

These are not the only new features and changes with Windows 10 as their is the introduction of a new browser in Microsoft Edge which is a clear improvement on Internet Explorer and just needs to be updated to allow extension as well as the Mac like inclusion of multiple desktops. Additionally, you might be wondering why I haven’t mentioned Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana since it has been one of the major developments implanted in Windows 10. Unfortunately, as some of you might know on launch Cortana was limited to just 4 countries and Australia was one of many to miss out. Microsoft have promised to start rolling out the service to more uses later this year with the promise that Cortana will be individual to each culture, hopefully that will mean a digital assistant that can understand the Auzzie accent.  Regardless of these features and the slight disappointment of our Halo themed friend I can confidently recommend an upgrade, just think about talking the extra time to do a clean install.

Building the future

Hi tech heads, it seems the boys at Redmond have been busy so here is a quick round up of all the news that matters from the build keynote.

Universal apps
We always knew that Microsoft were going to be pushing applications that worked across devices but until now its always been demoed using Microsoft own apps like office. However, now they have taken the next step by creating a version of Visual studios that works in  objective C, Java and C++ coding that will allow developers to easily port thier existing apps to Windows. Microsoft’s demoed version of candy crush from the iOS app store showed the potential of this mentality to finally conquer the app gap. This doesn’t mean that every iOS and Andriod app will be on Windows but with access to the PC marketshare and the Xbox One many develops will be attacted to make the small effort now required.

Continuum
Again this feature was introduced at the Windows event in January as it allows the OS to detect the type of device and change between the touch and desktop interfaces. Using a hybrid device like the Surface Pro this means that it detects when you are using the Keyboard and prompts you to enter desktop mode. The next step was always going to be multiple displays but rather than use a tablet, microsoft showed off how a phone can be used to run a full desktop interface. Its been years of people saying that mobile will kill off the PC but perhaps this new feature will lead to the future were less hardcore uses will only need a phone and a dock.

Microsoft Edge
Project Spartan’s offical name has a bit of a samsung ring to it and as a Halo fan I miss the link to the Master Chief but the times they are a changing. Other than the name the browser didn’t have any new features but did look more polished so I’m looking forward to testing it out in build 10074.

Hololens
Redmond’s new eye candy seems to have come a long way since January. This time the demo showed off a whole new range of apps including the everyday web browser, videos and Skype all of which can be controlled by your voice and resized to fit your walls. Yet, it didn’t stop there as Microsoft obviously wants to highlight the potential for their version of augmented reality in areas like medical education and robotics. If this wasn’t enough thier was something for the real tech nerds as we also learned a bit more about how this new device works and the internal components.

Final thought
I have had a good vibe about Windows 10 for some time but the possibilities show in the keynote suggest a bright future. A universal OS that can port apps from other popular ecosystems and react to way you are using your device may well be the future of mobile.

I would love to get your thoughts on windows 10, even the skeptics.

Cheers
Jono