14 reasons we're excited for Windows 10, seriously
by Scott Olson, on Jul 20, 2015 12:18:28 PM
As far as Microsoft is concerned, 2015 is the Year of Windows 10, and it’s a very important year for them indeed. The new OS is scheduled to make its official debut on July 29th, and millions are eagerly awaiting its arrival with bated breath. Well, Ok, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but there is a lot of excitement about Windows 10, as well as a healthy dose of skepticism and a ‘we’ll see’ kind of attitude. And that’s perfectly understandable after the shall we say, less than enthusiastic reception of the last much-heralded iteration of the Windows OS, Windows 8.
As many will recall, Windows 8 was a bold attempt by Microsoft to make up for years of ignoring the rising popularity of smartphones and tablets, and the decreasing sales of desktop PC’s. It was an attempt to create an OS that would work across all of a user’s devices, and allow developers to create single apps that would do the same. Although it was a great idea and a nice try, it just didn’t work. Users found the interface, a radical departure from earlier versions, to be too confusing and were angry at the loss of favorite features, like Windows Media Player, and the familiar Start bar. So users decided to stick to older versions, especially Windows 7, which is currently the most used.
Now Microsoft is making a second attempt, and it has a lot riding on the upcoming release of Windows 10. It says it will be a melding of the best features of Windows 7 and 8, and will also be the final version of Windows, with future updates being delivered incrementally to this platform. In preparation, Microsoft has been beta testing Windows 10 with 4.4 million global volunteers over the last nine months.
Pre-release reviews have been mixed, as usual, but in general seem to be trending positive, with many saying the OS is a return to the familiar feel of the older systems but with some fresh and very likable features, and a lot more functionality.
Microsoft has certainly invested a lot of time, effort, and money into getting things right this time, and they seem pretty confident they’ve hit the mark. To quote CEO Satya Nadella, "Windows 10 represents a new generation of Windows built on an era of more personal computing, where the mobility of the experience is what matters, not the mobility of the device. We want people to go from meeting Windows to choosing Windows to loving Windows." In fact, Microsoft has stated that its goal is to have 1 billion people using Windows 10 by 2018.
We’re pretty hyped about Windows 10 too, and here are 14 reasons why:
1. The return of the Start menu!
Booting up a PC with Windows 10 lands a user on the familiar desktop, with the Recycle Bin up in the left-hand corner and everything. But hit the Start button and up pops the old menu with some new improvements, and sitting beside it are the Live Tiles from Windows 8, with real-time updates from social media and news sites. The new Start menu is very customizable, and can be expanded to a full-screen view too.
2. It’s free!
Well, sort of. Microsoft has announced free upgrades for users of Windows 7 and 8 for a year after the release date. That’s a pretty good deal, although Computer World has obtained information that indicates users would have to start paying for updates after 2-4 years.
3. It’s easy on the resources.
Windows 10 uses fewer resources than Vista, 7, or 8, which means it can be run on just about any PC or laptop, maybe even the old ones stashed in the back of the closet.
4. Goodbye Internet Explorer, Hello Microsoft Edge.
Previously known as Project Spartan, Microsoft officially renamed the new browser Microsoft Edge at the end of April, and that does have a decidedly better ring to it. Edge will still sport a stylized ‘e’ icon, but according to Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, it "now has a completely different and better meaning than it has for a while."
Windows 10 has a brand new personal assistant named Cortana, and, of course, any relation to the AI helper in Halo is purely coincidental.
Cortana will assist you in doing just about anything, from searching files and folders, to looking up sports scores, reading you the weather report, and setting appointments in your calendar. And he/she/it is voice activated and trained to understand real-world language. Try not to fall in love.
6. Will that be a keyboard and mouse, or would you prefer touchscreen?
With Windows 10 Continuum, switching from one to the other on devices that can support both is a cinch. Convertible devices will offer a choice of tablet or desktop modes. Choosing tablet for touchscreen operation instantly reconfigures the operating system for touch-friendly use, apps go full-screen, and the OS operates with gestures. Reverting to desktop mode by connecting a mouse and keyboard puts apps back into windows and brings back the desktop.
7. Forget your password.
No, really. With Microsoft Hello, Windows 10 can use facial recognition or a fingerprint as a passport to the system or the Internet. It uses technology developed originally for the MS Kinect depth camera for facial recognition. According to Kinect’s Scott Evans, “We want to make your interactions with Windows devices more like interacting with another person.” Using sophisticated asymmetric key cryptography, the false ID rate is just one out of 100,000 attempts. Says Dusty Ingalls with Windows Security, “You get all of the security that an IT organization would get with smartcards with the familiarity and personal experience of Windows Hello.” The only real drawback is that using Microsoft Hello will require, according to Microsoft, “specialized hardware, including fingerprint reader, illuminated IR sensor or other biometric sensors.” But the newer generations of devices coming on the market will generally include devices that will be Hello friendly.
8. One app will work everywhere.
Here's where things get exciting and especially relevant to us here at Modus. With Universal Apps, any app purchased from the Microsoft store will work on any device using Windows 10, including the Xbox game console and the really cool HoloLens. Not only is that convenient, but Microsoft points out that using one centralized app store for all devices will greatly increase security and cut down on malware and piracy. Kevin Gallo writing on the Windows blog says of Universal Apps, “With Windows 10, we are leading a new path forward for mobile experiences – breaking out of the limited box of just mobile devices and empowering customers take full advantage of all of the screens in their life. For Windows, these mobile experiences are powered by our one Windows core and the universal app platform.” This is great news for our clients that rely heavily on Windows.
9. One for the developers.
Universal Apps looks like a good deal for developers too. Read the whole piece for more detailed info, but author Kevin Gallo prefaces his remarks to developers with, “As we built the universal app platform, we set out to ensure that all Windows developers would equally benefit from this one core. The platform enables a new class of Windows universal apps – apps that are truly written once, with one set of business logic and one UI. Apps that are delivered to one Store within one package. Apps that are able to reach every Windows 10 device the developer wants to reach. Apps that feel consistent and familiar to the customer on all devices, while also contextually appropriate to each device’s input model and screen size. The new universal app platform completes our developer platform convergence by providing you with the ability to finally create one app that can run on mobile, desktop, console, holographic, and even IoT devices.” In other words, Modus for Windows is about to get a whole lot better!
10. It allows extensions.
Yes, Microsoft Edge will finally get into the race with other browsers like Firefox and Chrome and support 21st-century browser functions like extensions.
11. Creatively vandalize web pages.
At least on your own screen. Edge includes a feature that allows a user to make notes, highlight text, and otherwise scribble on the web pages seen on the screen, and even save or share the results. Sounds like yet another potential workplace time-waster, but useful too. Simply click an icon on the toolbar, choose a color, and go.
12. The new Command Prompt is here!
Not to leave anything undone, copying and pasting of text is now possible at the Command Prompt. Never know when that might come in handy.
13. It works on a Raspberry Pi.
Windows 10 for IoT (IoT stands for Internet of Things) can now be used with the Raspberry Pi 2, and all reports are that setting it up is as easy as, well, pie. The possibilities are endless.
14. Windows 10 wants to take over the world.
Using the above mentioned Windows 10 for IoT, anything that can be connected to the Internet can be controlled, including ATM’s, thermostats, refrigerators, toasters, TVs, ovens, cars, self-watering plants, anything. Everybody jokes about the singularity, but... it may be here. After all, Microsoft specifically mentioned robots.
So what do you think? Why are you looking forward to the July 29th release of Windows 10? Do you think it'll live up to expectations, or will it fall short? And what will the outcome mean for the future of Microsoft? Maybe the Microsoft Surface Pro can still pull through. Let us hear your thoughts and comments below.