Windows 10: Important Features & Improvements

Windows 10 was officially launched for public use on July 27th, 2015, and within two days my laptop prompted me that the update was now available to be installed. Microsoft last launched Windows 8 for general availability on October 26, 2012. Just under three years ago. Windows 8 wasn’t quite the disaster like Windows Vista but nevertheless did not manage to replicate the success of Windows 7 (General Availability October 22, 2009 – almost five years ago). Now Windows 10 has been made available and the improvements are primarily inspired from competitors (Mac Os) & from user feedback which is why it is safe to say that Windows 10 will surely be a success.

I bought a Dell XPS 13 2015 Edition in February. I used an old Macbook Air for a few days before that and I was convinced that in my Budget of spending less than $1000 Dell offered better value for money and a much better display than the Air. The decision was made and here I am using it to write a practical real world review as an early adopter.

The laptop has a 1080p Bezel free display, a Core i5 Broadwell processor, 4GB Ram & a 128 GB SSD. I mainly use the laptop for work, assignments at school, watching HBO, Netflix, YouTube (upto 1440p) & ocassionally some light gaming.

The update downloaded automatically as I had already registered for it before hand and all I had to do was install it. The installation was quick which was probably due to the SSD. So if you have a laptop which is only a few years old, switching out that older hard drive for a new SSD will make the transition and the user experience very smooth. I took the risk of letting windows managing my backup which it had already done before hand and my data is where it was supposed to be. I have additional backups in cloud as well so you might want to look into that before going ahead with the installation.

After going through basic settings the installer will take you to the desktop where there are a few good additions and changes -:

1. Start Menu – I know a lot of people criticized the Windows 8 for designing the new start menu as a screen and my opinion is that although I didn’t have a problem with it I just didn’t see any added benefits either. It also brought with it the confusing apps. I could use facebook, twitter as an app on my computer but then they were already easily accessible from the browser. 

The new one is fine as it brings back the good features of the old windows (7 and before) and blends it with a slightly modified design of windows 8. It works fine.

2. Cortana – It’s the virtual assistant created by Microsoft to keep up with Siri, Google Now. For most part it holds up, its relatively easy to set up and once you do the 6 reading exercises to turn on the “Hey Cortana” setting for only your own voice the errors diminish even further. I am not sure that I will be using Cortana a lot but the virtual assistant is clearly in a nascent stage at launch and further updates will only make it better in the coming months. It isn’t very far behind Siri & Google Now.

3. Edge Browser – For the first time ever Microsoft has launched a new browser instead of merely updating windows explorer to another number. Using this browser is a totally new experience (than Internet Explorer) and it will show once you open it and immediately hop to your favorite website. For me it isn’t really that big a deal. I have been using Google Chrome for years and I have been happy with its performance. It was already installed when I switched to the new Windows and after playing around with Edge for a few minutes I was back to using Chrome for daily use.

4. Notification Center – This is definitely a life saver and reminds me how much the lines are blurring between the operating system on your phone and the one on your computer. It also reminds me of the quick actions on the iPhone when you swipe from the bottom of the home screen. I expect this addition to become more important as we move along into the new world of Windows 10.

Other Improvements

New Swipe Gesture for Multi-Task, Multiple Desktops – This feature has been enjoyed by Mac users since forever and I am very glad that Microsoft has decided to add it to Windows 10.

Direct X 12 – Supposed to increase graphical performance. We won’t see full benefits and capabilities until the next year or the one after that.

Tablet Mode – This feels like an after thought to be honest. It merely brings the metro style of Windows 8 to the fore. I want to see it evolve into something bigger than the current implementation than the design it has been given.

Upgrade to Windows 10 if you are unhappy with Windows 8/8.1 and most importantly check if your device is meeting the minimum hardware requirements.

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