Windows 10 is a triumphant return to form for Microsoft in every way. It’s elegant, very fast, and most of all it brings back the traditional desktop metaphor and makes it better than ever. Better still is that most of these changes came from our feedback that Microsoft listened too and improved upon in every way. In my review below I will cover mainly the desktop setup, if you want thoughts on tablet mode I will post another review later. Hope you enjoy.
Installing Windows follow the exact same steps as 8.1 before it but this time it is noticeably faster installing the OS. My test machine is a I3 acer laptop with 4gb of ram and traditional 5400rpm hard drive. Every time I’ve installed Windows it took about 20 minutes to install and start the user creation. I don’t know how they sped the process up but it works without a hitch every time.
Coming form Windows 8 the most obvious change here is the return of the Start menu, but there’s allot more here than just that Things like new alt tab switcher, virtual desktops, Cortana and all redesigned system tray applets make this a whole new experience. The actual start menu itself is a beautiful blend of the old Menu from xp/7 on the left side and the start screen of Windows 8 on the right. The left hand side is your programs list and places like file explorer ect. The right is your live tile space for you to customize to your needs. I personally pinned Calendar, Email and weather so I could get helpful info when at the start menu firing up a program. Just as in 8 Tiles can be rearranged, resized and apps or files both can be pinned in the live tile menu. Another cool feature is that the start menu is re sizable so users can fit it to their liking. Next to the Menu users will see the introduction of Cortana on the desktop, a familiar but welcome addition that drastically bumps up productivity and ease of use. Cortana can be used to search for apps, or files, she can set reminders, show weather and news tailored to your tastes and locations. Think of it like spotlight for macs but better in every way.
Another pleasing addition is the new alt tab switcher which makes multitasking a absolute breeze. The new snap feature is just like aero snap in Windows 7 but with much improvements. Users can now place up to four windows on screen at every corner, two windows side by side or drag the window to the top to maximize like before. Snap can be triggered by dragging windows with a mouse or the super key with arrow keys.
One of the most often requested features for years also makes a grand debut in Windows 10 and that is the introduction of virtual desktops. Users can create as many virtual desktops as they want just with the click of a button near the system tray. This addition will no doubt be a huge boon for enterprise users and power users alike who like to multi task.
Other improvements include redesigned system tray applets with the new theme, more personalization options in start, allowing you to toggle app suggestions on, full screen mode or tablet mode and much more. The settings app as a whole is finally a full fledged replacement for control panel now allowing users access to every part of their PC and PC settings. On the app side of things Microsoft has completely redesigned almost every app on the list. Calendar, Mail, Music, Weather, People, Photos all have been vastly overhauled and all for the better. Music and video drop the xbox branding and have sleek new interfaces. Email is all handled through outlook now and can sync multiple accounts across mail and calendar as well. To keep it short I’ll just say that like the new menu and task bar every app has been retooled for traditional keyboard and mouse usage. Things are just easy to navigate and still very elegant in the look and feel.
This is one area I didn’t think would be very improved due to the new effects of the desktop mode and theming but Windows 10 on my machine just flies. From booting up, surfing the web and playing games it all just goes faster. Apps load quicker, games are smoother and battery life will be much improved. It hands down trounces the already fast Windows 8 in every category.
Look & Feel
Like the new start menu the new theming and look of Windows 10 is a blend of old and new. The taskbar and start background can be any color you choose or blend with whatever picture or wallpaper you select. Both the taskbar and menu’s can be transparent is toggled in settings. The Window border is the biggest change, now instead of the Metro blue color of 8 , it now is solid white. While I do like the white I would prefer if my taskbar matched my windows boarder, having them different colors is a bit disjointing to me. Also we have new icons all around the board, now much flatter in design with sharper colors than before. Overall I think the theme is nice but more options will be welcome, such as the old aero glass from Windows 7 or the option to change the window boarder color.
Windows 10 may not be revolutionary in it’s approach with the return of many things that we’ve all used before, but it’s implementation and rock solid performance will ensure that it is the desktop OS of choice for years to come. It performs exceptionally, it allows users to get more work done and the Microsoft apps are rust phenomenal. More importantly though it shows that Microsoft is whole new company that gave us all a voice to give ideas, critiques feedback on everything and they listened. They listened to all of us, worked with us and gave us a fantastic product. That reason alone is enough to cheer about, I give Windows 10 a excellent 10 out of 10. Thank you Microsoft.