In last month’s blog post, we covered the end of mainstream support for Windows 7 and the very interesting news surrounding Windows 10 – in particular that the update to Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year after Windows 10’s release.
It’s great news that you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free for a limited time, but do you really want to? What new and compelling features are available in Windows 10 to drive you to upgrade?
The biggest feature of Windows 10 that will satisfy most users is the return of the Start Menu. This isn’t the Start Menu you remember from Windows 7, but rather a blending of the approaches from Windows 7 and Window 8.x, resulting in a Start Menu with live tiles on the side.
For touch-centric devices (large-screen desktops, tablets, etc.), the Start Menu can be expanded to full-screen for a more touch-friendly approach a la Windows 8.x.
Windows 10 further pushes the concept of “Universal Apps” that was introduced with Windows 8. Universal apps allow developers to create solutions that target a vast variety of devices, PCs, and even Xbox. What this means for consumers and businesses that adopt an all-Microsoft computing approach is faster application releases with more universal compatibility across your traditional PCs and mobile devices right out of the gate, and more consistent interfaces across those devices (less user training). Universal apps can sync and share data seamlessly with OneDrive (Microsoft’s file and folder sync solution) and can finally narrow the “app gap” (i.e. fewer apps for Windows Phone than for iOS and Android) and make Windows Phone a good alternative to iOS and Android. The first universal apps will be from Microsoft, including most of the Office suite as well as default Windows apps like Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People & Messaging, and Mail & Calendar.
Windows 10 packs hundreds of new features to improve usability and productivity, and here are some of the highlights.
Continuum – For hybrid/detachable PCs such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Continumm provides a seamless transition between traditional PC and tablet states. Apps live in windows on the desktop in the former, and run full-screen in the latter.
Cortana – Introduced in Windows Phone 8.1, Cortona is a voice assistant that competes with Google’s Google Now and Apple’s Siri. You can use Cortana to speak to your PC to take actions, take notes, set appointments, among other capabilities.
Spartan – Windows 10 will ship with a new web browser code-named Spartan. Spartan will replace Internet Explorer as the default browser, but Internet Explorer will be retained for compatibility reasons. Spartan will include a streamlined interface, web clipping and sharing, Word-like commenting features, keyboard or pen annotation support, and touch support (something which no PC browser currently does well). Support for browser extensions similar to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome is coming soon.
Windows Store apps in Windows – Microsoft said that Windows Store apps (a.k.a. Modern UI or Metro apps) and regular desktop programs will both run in traditional windows in Windows 10. The programs can be resized and minimized from the bar at the top. In Windows 8.x, Windows Store apps could only run full-screen.
Multiple desktops – Windows 10 will feature something Mac and UNIX (Linux, etc.) users have taken advantage of for years: multiple desktops. This feature allows you to create new desktop workspaces in Windows 10 to organize your open applications. For example, you could have a desktop for basic productivity applications and a separate desktop for design applications (Adobe Creative Cloud or similar). Or you could have web browsers on one desktop, Outlook on another, and financial applications on a third. This feature allows you to organize your workspace to help you work as productively as possible.
Windows 10 for phones and small tablets – Windows 10 will be spread across multiple device types, so Microsoft is dropping the Windows Phone branding and will be consistent with a Windows 10 that works on phones and tablets with screens smaller than 8-inches. The former Windows RT (Windows on ARM processor devices) is nowhere to be seen.
Office universal apps – Windows 10 for phones and small tablets will include free Office universal apps – Word, Excel and PowerPoint, plus Outlook Mail and Outlook Calendar. Initial impressions are that these are powerful apps which exceed the capabilities of the Office for Mobile apps that currently exist for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. These apps also clearly align with Microsoft’s strategy of “mobile first, cloud first, Windows best,” which will appease those hard-core Microsoft product users who have complained that and Office for iOS and Android product are better than anything Microsoft currently offers for their own mobile platforms.
This information is just scratching the surface of what Windows 10 has to offer, and Microsoft plans to release even more information at upcoming technical conferences. Microsoft says it will ship Windows 10 sometime later in 2015, with end-of-summer being a repeated target. In the meantime, Colden Company is working with the Windows 10 Technical Preview and is taking part in the Windows Insider Program so we are ready to support our customers with information, upgrade and deployment guidance, hardware recommendations, and anything else you can think of when Windows 10 is ready.
Are you interested in moving to Windows 10 for free when it becomes available? Are you interested in moving to Windows 8.1 and leaving Windows 7 behind? Have you been thinking about Windows Phone and want to know more? Colden Company is ready to help you with these questions and many more. Call us at (888) 600-4560 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or see us on Facebook or Twitter to get your Microsoft tools in top shape.