For this article, I am going to be looking at Microsoft’s recently announced operating system, Windows 10. The current release of this operating system is a technical preview which means that things can (and likely will) change before it is released for people to buy. Microsoft recommends not replacing the operating system on your daily use computer with this operating system yet as users cannot revert to the prior operating system version. If issues occur, the old operating system and all programs may have to be reinstalled. Reinstallation of the operating system could result in the loss of personal data.
Installing Windows 10 Technical Preview
With this warning in mind, I installed the Windows 10 Technical Preview using virtual machines on my desktop and laptop computers using the 64-bit enterprise version. Also, I am using the desktop version of Windows 10 as I do not have a touchscreen device to test Windows 10 with. As many of the new features or changes were addressed in Geek Beat’s initial coverage, this article is going to focus on my initial impressions of Windows 10 Technical Preview although there will be some overlap between this article and the previous article as I look at how the new or returning features were implemented
I am going to start by looking at the installation of the new operating system. Windows 10 uses the same install process as Windows 8 and Windows 8.1. Like Windows 8 and Windows 8.1, users are prompted to either sign in to their Microsoft account or create a local account. If a person doesn’t have a Microsoft account, he or she can create a new Microsoft account or a local account. Local accounts are accounts stored only on the PC itself whereas Microsoft accounts are accessible via the internet on multiple PCs and accounts preferences such as screensavers or lock screen images. During the setup of Windows 10, Windows also asks users whether or not they want it to detect installed devices. This feature was introduced in Windows 8/8.1 to make it easier and faster to configure Windows. Another install feature carried over from Windows 8/8.1 is the ability to reinstall apps from the Windows store. Windows store apps that were installed previously on a different Windows 8 or newer installation can be installed during the setup as well. If Express Settings is chosen, the Windows store apps are automatically installed. If Customize is selected, users can choose whether or not to reinstall the apps along with other settings that can be chosen.
Initial Appearance and Changes Found from Windows 7 and 8/8.1
After logging into the Windows 10 desktop, the initial appearance looks very much like the Windows 8.1 desktop although there are a few changes such as the removal of the charm bar and other changes to be covered in the article.
Clicking on the Start button brings up a major change between Windows 8.1 and Windows 10 as the Start menu from Windows 7 is back although there are a few changes. Users can still do the same functions they could in Windows 7 such as pinning programs to the Start menu but users also can add tiles to the Start menu as shown in the image below. When clicking on my account name and the power button icon, I found nearly the same options that were available in Windows 8/8.1 on the Start screen.
Start Menu Right-Click Functions
Right-clicking on the Start menu brings up the same options introduced in Windows 8.1. I have found that having these options here has made accessing different Windows functions faster. The image below shows these options.
Start Screen Option
In Windows 10, Microsoft has included the option of using the Start Screen from Windows 8 for users who like that method of accessing programs and apps. By default, the Start menu is enabled. To change to the Start Screen instead of the Start Menu, right-click on the taskbar and select Properties. On the Start Menu tab, uncheck the box to use the Start menu instead of the Start screen. Personally, I prefer having the Start Menu as my default method for accessing programs so I left the Start Menu enabled.
Start Menu Customization
Also accessible using the Start Menu tab is the Customization feature. This feature allows users to pin programs to the Start Menu. The image below shows some of the options available. I like having the option to pin the items in the list to the Start menu but I am still trying to decide which will work better for me, pinning programs to the Start Menu or pinning the tiles to the Start Menu.
Other changes include the addition of the Search feature to the taskbar. The Search icon is immediately to the right of the Start button. The first button is Search and the second button is called Task View. Search in Windows 10 works much as it did in previous Windows versions. Windows 8 had expanded search functionality to allow searching additional content such as items that are Trending Now. That same functionality is included in Windows 10. Search is also located in the Start Menu. There are benefits to having Search but I’m not sure about having two places for it. My preference would be to combine the Search functionality in one place.
Task View is the other change to the initial icons on the taskbar. The icon for Task View is just to the right of the Search feature. Task View is Microsoft’s new way of accessing other open application windows. This feature is similar to previous versions of Windows Alt-Tab functionality although the different tabs don’t disappear immediately like they do when Alt-Tab is released.
Windows 10 also introduced the capability of using virtual desktops in Windows. Clicking on the Task View button also brings up the available desktops. Alt-Tab is still available in Windows 10. In Windows 10, the functionality has been expanded to show the programs and apps regardless of which desktop they are running in. An example of how the open applications and the different virtual desktops are displayed is in the image below.
There is one additional change I found that relates to the virtual desktops. That change is the way open programs are displayed if the program is open on a different desktop. In Windows 7 and 8, open applications are identified by showing a box around the taskbar icon. Windows 10 uses the same box around the taskbar icons but one change that Windows 10 did introduce is the use of underlining beneath the taskbar icon if the program is open on a different desktop. The image below is an example of the new feature using the same four programs that were open in the above image. The only change from the above image was which desktop was displayed.
Windows 10 uses live tiles, a feature introduced on the Start screen in Windows 8. Pinning a program as a tile to the Start menu is simple. Just right-click on the program from the Start menu and select Pin to Start as shown in the image below. Pinning a program to the taskbar uses the same process except for needing to select Pin to taskbar instead of using Pin to Start. I am finding that I like having the option to add live tiles to the Start menu as it will allow me to get to my frequently used programs faster. With Windows 8.1, I create shortcuts on my desktop directly to the programs but it makes the desktop more cluttered. I also need to know how to get to the folders where the program was installed. With Windows 10, I don’t need to know the folder path with the return of the Start menu. The live tiles allow quick access to my frequently used programs that I have pinned to the Start menu.
Another change is how the Snap functionality works in Windows 10. In Windows 7 and Windows 8.1, users could snap two windows so that they each use half the screen. I use that functionality regularly both at work and at home. Windows 10 introduced the ability to use Snap with four programs or windows that are open. So far I have liked the changes that Microsoft has made to make accessing programs easier but I have yet to be able to get the fourth window to snap into place when using a single display. Instead after I get the first three in place, the fourth window or program tries to snap into place other half the screen on the side the window is located at. Another issue that I have come across that I think needs fixed is the way Snap does not work properly in Windows 10 when multiple displays are enabled. With dual displays, Snap only worked for me on the right side of my primary display as my secondary display is to the left of my primary monitor. I was not able to get Snap to work at all using the left side of my primary monitor when I had my computer configured to use dual displays.
A long overdue feature for Windows was announced by Microsoft as well in Windows 10. That feature is the ability to use the Ctrl-V hotkey combo for pasting information into a command prompt. Unfortunately, pasting using Ctrl-V did not work for me initially but after researching the issue more, I found out that Microsoft doesn’t enable the new functionality by default. After enabling the hotkey functionality and restarting the command prompt window, I was able to use the copy and paste functionality with the command prompt.
Here are the steps needed for enabling the new Ctrl key functionality. Open a command prompt window. Next, right-click on the title bar and then click on Properties. Once the Properties window is open, click on the tab titled Experimental. Within this tab is a checkbox called Enable new Ctrl key shortcuts. Make sure the box is checked and click the OK button. Close and reopen the command prompt window to finish enabling the functionality.
File Explorer has a new part added with a section called Home that lists Favorites and Frequent Folders. The Home section allows quick access to commonly used files and folders. File Explorer also includes the Windows 8 charm bar functionality for Share but it is now located on the Share tab in File Explorer.
Internet Explorer Changes
Windows 10 still is using Internet Explorer 11 but Microsoft has made changes to how webpages transfer information by adding the use of the HTTP2 protocol. This protocol allows a much faster transmission of data than the original HTTP protocol.
Microsoft made a number of changes involving making it easier to access programs and other functions in the Windows 10 Technical Preview. For the most part, I like the changes but there were some issues I encountered that I would like to see fixed. I like how the charm bar is no longer used with the desktop version of Windows 10 as it can get in the way when trying to work with full screen programs. I also like how the apps that open in the Metro interface with Windows 8/8.1 open on the desktop in Windows 10 so that I do not have to keep switching between the Start screen and the desktop. Beyond the changes and features looked at in this article, it seemed that in many areas the Windows 8 and 8.1 design was carried over. For example, the PC settings section is the exact same layout and the same functionality as in Windows 8. The biggest improvement I noticed was the improvement in getting to programs, apps, and other functionality within Windows. Getting to parts of the operating system like PC settings is much easier than before as is accessing programs when compared to Windows 8. When I first worked with Windows 8, I hated using it because of the lack of the Start menu and I am very glad that Microsoft brought it back in Windows 10. Dealing with the Start and Apps screens in Windows 8/8.1 is time-consuming with the extra screens to load from. When I did initially start using Windows 8 and 8.1, I did so very reluctantly. Now I have gotten used to Windows 8.1 but I still dislike not having the Start menu functionality. I don’t have the same reluctance about using the Windows 10 operating system. I like the look and feel of Windows 10 even in its current state and I will be installing Windows 10 when it is released next year.