Microsoft is going full-steam ahead: Windows 9 is now Windows 10. And the most important innovation in the package fulfils a widely-held wish: On desktop PCs, Windows 10 will feature the classical Start menu instead of the Start screen of Win8. On the other hand, the tile-based interface will continue to be used on mobile devices. It will be activated automatically on such devices. For hybrid devices (which can be operated with or without a keyboard), Microsoft has come up with a feature called ‘Continuum’.
Thanks to this feature, Windows 10 can automatically detect if the keyboard of the convertible device has been removed, and it magnifies the start menu accordingly so that it covers the entire screen. However, regardless of the device, you can use the taskbar properties to activate or deactivate the new start menu at any time.
Microsoft’s new Start menu combines the programme list from Windows 7 with the app tiles from Windows 8. As with the start screen, the app tiles can be enlarged in four stages, and they always display the latest information. You can add new tiles to the Start menu by right-clicking programmes and apps. This makes the Start menu wider. Alternatively, you can remove all the app tiles from the Start menu and use the classic programme list.
The Start menu is back
The user menu is at the upper edge of the new Start menu. To its right is the button that shuts down the system, while the search tab for programmes and files can be found on the lower edge.
If desired, the colour of the Start menu adapts itself to the colour hue of the desktop background. Contrary to the rumours, the new Windows system also features the charm bar. The Windows 8.1 Explorer was an unimpressive mixture of Modern UI and Aero elements. In the latest version of Windows, Microsoft has finally cleaned house, and the company has kitted out the new Explorer with modern icons and a handful of new annotations. In the English version of the operating system, the home page of the Explorer is now called ‘Home’ and not ‘This PC’.
Apps can be launched in the window
In the new Windows, apps from the Windows Store run in the fullscreen mode or as desktop windows, depending on the user interface: If you click the tile in the start screen, the app is, as in Windows 8.1, launched in the full-screen mode.
On the other hand, if you open it up in the start menu, it launches as a window. In any event, the app features a title bar with buttons for minimising, maximising and closing. The first two buttons can be used to toggle between the window and full-screen modes. Furthermore, Microsoft has also announced the arrival of ‘universal apps’, which are supposed to nullify the differences between desktop programmes and apps. Just like Win8, Windows 10 is supposed to represent a common platform for all end devices – even though the user interface changes each time.
Four windows and four desktops
The Aero-Snap function already makes it possible to automatically stretch windows until they cover half the screen. Windows 10 brings Snap Assist into the equation, which displays all the windows that are open in the other half of the screen.
Clicking one of the windows enlarges it, so that it covers the second half of the screen. You can also divide the two chunks of the screen into halves, and arrange four windows next to each other. The edges of the windows have become narrower, and they are separated from other windows by a pixel-wide line. The taskbar features the new Task Switcher button, which displays all the windows that are open, just like the [Alt] + [Tab] key combination. A significant innovation has been adopted from Linux: You can now use several desktop user interfaces, instead of just one. This makes it possible to distribute windows and links across a larger area.
The Feature Task View provides you with a preview that displays the contents of the interfaces in real time.
Free for users of Windows 8.1
Those who are interested can try out the Technical Preview. Companies can go for the ‘Technical Preview for Enterprises’, which boasts additional features such as Windows To Go, DirectAccess and AppLocker. To download the Preview, you must use your Microsoft account to register (for free) for the Windows Insider programme. According to Microsoft, the final version of Windows 10 is scheduled to be released in the second half of 2015. Users of Windows 8.1 will get it for free, while a very ‘attractive’ upgrade offer will allegedly be made to users of Windows 7.
If rumours are to be believed, this offer could also apply to Windows XP and Vista. As far as these two operating systems are concerned, a new installation might be unavoidable
After a period of more than two years that saw a torrent of criticism, the Windows 8 chapter is as good as closed.
Windows 10 brings back the Start menu, hides the Start screen and gives the Explorer a lick of modern paint. However, what’s most important is that the user can always choose how they want to use the operating system. In addition to bringing back several features, Microsoft is also introducing genuine innovations. Windows 10 is already far ahead of its predecessor, and the final version could just become the new Windows 7.