Microsoft unveils new Windows OS
In pre-release version, subject to change, Microsoft has announced their most anticipated product: Windows 10. The new version of the operating system has been rebuilt from the ground up, in an effort to keep up with customer and developers’ expectations.
Covering all of the new changes could take quite a while, but here are the top ten things you should know about Windows 10.
Windows 10 is hardware-indifferent (Continuum)
Windows 10 will operate across the board with one product. There is no need to download different versions for different devices. It will works regardless of whether you are using a PC, tablet, or mobile device. This again is thanks to the change the Microsoft developers made at the ground level.
Since it works on all devices, it will display the same across all devices, except for a few minor usability issues needed to take advantage of hardware-specific features. These exceptions should not effect the way a page looks and operates however. This is also being dubbed “Continuum.” Windows will be able to tell what mode your device is in and seamlessly switch the user interface accordingly. Should a manual switch be needed, you can do this from the Action Center.
Cortana: Microsoft’s Virtual Assistant
Cortana made her debut last year with the Windows Phone 8.1 and was well-received. Now, she’s being introduced to a winder audience via the Windows 10 desktop. Cortana can answer questions, initiate a web search, and perform various trigger functions, or at least that is the plan.
Currently, Cortana refers quite a few questions she receives to Bing, but future updates should help Cortana be able to do things like creating calendar entries, texts, and such, especially since Windows 10 is still in the early stages of developmental tweaking. Cortana for desktop resides in a taskbar box, where you can ask your questions or pop it out by addressing her directly with, “hi, Cortana.”
Spartan Debuts as an IE Alternative
We previously covered the Spartan release with excitement at seeing Microsoft offer something other than Internet Explorer in the way of browsing. The bad news is it seems like Microsoft is going to keep the little black cloud of browsers around, but they will not be relying on it as much. It will integrate with Cortana and offer features like distraction-free reading and grouped tabs.
Currently, IE is not an app, it’s part of the OS; by making Spartan an app, Microsoft would be able to update it more quickly, but would also run the risk of people not bothering to download it as Microsoft reportedly want to keep IE on Windows 10. Hopefully as plans progress and prototypes are tweaked, Spartan will become and integral part of Windows 10 and we can say bye-bye to IE, or at the very least have IE as the option rather an integral part of the OS.
Following in the steps of Apple and Google, Microsoft is finally making universal apps available to everyone. With Windows 10, you will be able to download an application on your phone and install it on your desktop or tablet in the blink of an eye. Buy your app once, and use it everywhere.
Xbox Live on Windows 10
Microsoft is upping their gaming ante, by bringing some of Xbox’s favorite features to Windows 10. This includes the ability to play Xbox Live content on the desktop, compete with other players online, record your game play and capture a screenshot of the action. This is a big plus for heavy gamers.
Photos in the Cloud
Microsoft is also upping their photo game: in Windows 10, the official Photos app will show photos stored on all your connected devices (a bit like the iOS camera roll). Simply take a picture with your phone and you’ll be able to see it immediately across all your Windows 10 devices. You can also use the Cloud with OneDrive and back everything up, seamlessly. .
As we’ve already reported, Microsoft is showing off it’s hybrid idea of merging virtual reality with real world experiences in form of the HoloLens headset. They allow you to see a virtual 3D environment and interact with it in by immersing yourself in your surroundings. You will be able to adjust prototypes with gestures, take designs for an actual test run and immerse yourself in a new environment before actually traveling there.
There isn’t a screen to touch or a mouse to click. Use gestures to create, shape, and size holograms. Use your eyes to navigate and explore and your voice to communicate with your apps. This enables you to interact with content and information in the most natural way possible. Pretty futuristic and the gestures are comparable to what Google Glass was going for with its design.
Surface Hub for Businesses
Microsoft announced their new solution for enterprise: the Surface Hub. Surface Hub is an 84-inch touch screen monitor designed to take center stage in your office. It comes complete with a full range of work-specific features; from making creating and sharing presentations, to built-in Skype integration everything is centered around the business user.
New Start Menu
The somewhat drastic changes to the Start menu were not quite what Windows fans expected. The Start menu cannot be re-sized, but you can maximize it. Sound confusing? Basically, the Start menu can become a Start screen by clicking a button and the change will be remembered when you click the Start button the next time.
The new Start menu/Start screen option is a way to please everyone, as some users prefer one over the other. Tiles are also handled differently: you can sort tiles into groups by dragging-and-dropping, as well as, rename and reposition.. You can also move and entire group of tiles by clicking the header of the tiles and dragging. The only way to add new tiles is from the Start menu.
Microsoft has decided to permanently disable Charms Bar for Desktop users in Windows 10. The Charms Bar will only show on touch-enabled devices in Windows 10. Desktops and laptop users will not see it in their Windows. In Windows 8, you can activate the bar by going to the top or bottom right corner of your desktop and the bar will open.
In Windows 10, Microsoft has removed that functionality and placed these Charms inside modern apps with a small drop down in the top left corner. Again, this is subject to change.
Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 7 and Windows 8 users (allegedly). It should be noted, tech gurus have found Windows 10 does have a few more bugs than any other version, but this is to be expected since they are launching a whole host of new features. Hopefully, the majority of these bugs will be worked out before final release. A tentative release date has been set for the fall of this year, but as well all technology: plans can change.