Disclaimer: This isn’t a full review of Windows 10. I’ve just recently installed it and wanted to give my first impression of Microsoft’s latest OS.
One of the greatest operating systems, in my humble opinion, is Windows 7. I’ve used almost every version of Windows, and enjoyed many variations of the Linux desktop over the years but Windows 7 is always impressive too me. It doesn’t try to get in your way, it’s easy to fix, and it’s extremely stable. It just works, and that’s what an OS is supposed be like.
Microsoft tried something very different with Windows 8. While it didn’t go over very well it wasn’t a complete failure. The ideas were solid however the implementation wasn’t very smooth. Of course we always have to account for the habit most people have to adopt a new way of doing things. While I can agree there really was no reason to move from Windows 7 to a new style; it was time for a facelift and Windows 8 was supposed to do that for us. However, Windows 8 just didn’t catch on and was a bit sloppy.
The success of Windows 7 and the failings of Windows 8 have come together and gave birth to Windows 10. Imagine if the same team that designed Windows 7 did it in 2015 and that’s what you see when you first fire up Windows 10. The start menu is there and feels familiar however it holds some Windows 8 habits. While the thought of tiles and directories in one list sounds weird at first it just works well the way they’ve laid it out. You can keep a more traditional size or enlarge the start menu like a windows if you want to lay out a few more tiles.
The overall visual style is very much like Windows 8 and that’s a complement. The flat and simple look is really working for me and blends in with everything you’re doing quite well. An operating system is only supposed to be in your face when you want it to be, and move to the background when you don’t need it. Windows 10 does this in spades.
There are a few small things I appreciate that I want to get out of the way before I start talking about some major changes. The taskbar, for example, shows up on both monitors (in a dual screen setup) however you can position them independently to suit your preferences. Moving the task bar to the left side on my second monitor and the bottom on my main made sense for my setup and the customization option was a welcomed addition. The calendar that pops up when you click on the clock is larger which just makes more sense and details added to the start menu are great but you have to see it to really get it.
Here are a few major things I’ve noticed and enjoyed:
Xbox App: With my recent purchase of the Xbox One this app is great. All of my Xbox information is listed in a way that makes sense and I can sort through my friends and achievements easily. The biggest and greatest feature is streaming my Xbox One screen to my PC. My Xbox One is downstairs however I can stream a game to my PC upstairs and play the game with my Xbox One controller on the PC. Different network setups may vary but I experienced no noticeable lag and enjoyed every minute of it.
Cortana: Oh Cortana. Sure, right now it’s more of a gimmick but the potential is incredible. Having a mic always on makes Cortana much more interesting when using the computer. A quick “hey Cortana” will bring up her interface and you can ask anything you want. If Cortana doesn’t know what to say a web browser will open up with a search for what you said. Not only do I not have any issue with Cortana understanding me with my Boston accent, but the ability to speak normally makes it a much more useful feature. To paint a picture for everyone I was installing a graphics card in a different computer in my office last night. While I continued working I asked Cortana to remind me to buy a new HDMI cable tomorrow. She asked what time tomorrow, I told her, and it was set. It was literally that easy and I never once looked at my computer.
Project Spartan: This needs a bit more time in the oven. I don’t hate it but there are almost no features as it is now. It’s a very fast browser and I noticed the popup blocker that was built in works a lot better than the old Internet Explorer ever did. There is no ability for add-ons yet and no way (that I can see) to import from a different browser either. I’ll stick with Chrome for now but will keep my eye on this one.
I’m currently using the Preview version of Windows 10 of course so it’s all still a beta. There are a few glitches here and there but nothing that has crashed the OS and nothing that couldn’t be solved by opening and closing an app. The biggest hang ups I encounter are with Cortana. Sometimes she just isn’t listening and I have to click the button in the taskbar to activate the feature. Once this is done however a simple “hey Cortana” gets the job done just fine.
Simply put, I’m impressed.