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WINDOWS 10

 
  • What new features does Windows 10 have?
  • What's the difference between Windows 8 and Windows 10?
  • When can I get Windows 10?
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Windows 10 was announced by Microsoft in October 2014, and a preview version has since become available for users to download and try out. Terry Myerson, the head of Microsoft’s operating systems group, told an audience of business users that ‘Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform ever’.

Winning back customers?

Since the release of Windows 8, Microsoft has received plenty of criticism from its customers. A common complaint was the unhappy marriage of a traditional desktop environment and a new-look ‘tile-based’ Start Screen that was aimed at touchscreen devices.

Yet the uptake of touchscreen Windows devices has been underwhelming, and traditional laptop and desktop users have been left frustrated, particularly after being forced to upgrade after support for Windows XP dried up in April 2014.

With Windows 10, the focus is back on desktop and laptop users, even if they don’t have a touchscreen. While you’ll still be able to control Windows 10 via a touchscreen, it should be just as intuitive to use with a mouse and keyboard.

So far, it seems Microsoft has listened to the feedback from customers, not only reversing some of the changes it made in Windows 8, but including the best parts of the popular Windows 7 and retaining elements of Windows 8.

Looking for a new laptop but can't wait for Windows 10? See our Best Buy laptop reviews

What's the difference between Windows 8 and Windows 10?

The return of the Start menu

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One of the most common complaints about Windows 8 was the fact that Microsoft had abandoned the classic desktop and Start menu that so many people were familiar with. With Windows 10, the Start menu is not only back, but it’s highly customisable.

Showing that Microsoft hasn’t entirely given up on Windows 8’s styling, the Windows 10 Start menu features Windows 8 tiles as well as a regular program and folder list. The tiles are adjustable and re-sizeable, and are intended to help if you’re selecting menu options on a touchscreen.

The menu supports live tiles that display up-to-date information – weather reports, headlines, or the number of emails in your inbox, for example.

Multiple desktops and task view

 Windows 10 Task view

Multiple desktops are nothing new to computing, and they've been available for some time on Linux and Mac OS X. But this is the first time they've appeared in a version of Windows. 

In Windows 10, you can simply add or remove new desktop environments, and open new programs or applications within them. This feature is accessible from any screen, including from within Windows Store apps, and the virtual desktops are displayed at the bottom of the screen. You can launch this multi-tasking view from a new ‘Task View’ button in the taskbar.

New app approach

In Windows 8, apps from the Windows Store take up the whole screen, which makes multi-tasking difficult. In Windows 10, you can use apps from the Windows Store within the desktop environment alongside regular programs, and the apps no longer take up the entire screen if you don’t want them to. This is helped by the Snap Assist feature. 

Snap Assist

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A new Snap Assist feature helps users decide where to put their apps on their screen by ‘snapping’ them to a corner. To snap an app, you click on the title bar and drag it to a corner of the screen. The quadrant will darken to show you've selected it, and you can release the mouse button to snap the app into that quarter of the screen. You can also snap left and right to make the app fill half of the screen as before.

One platform for all

Rather than creating a separate operating system for individual devices (PCs, laptops, tablets and phones), Microsoft is looking to create a user experience that’s universal across all platforms. While Windows 10 may not look exactly the same as it does on a Windows Phone in comparison to a desktop PC, it will feature much of the same functionality and applications.

What happened to Windows 9?

Ultimately, Windows 10 is just a name. Some people may become confused as to where version 9 disappeared to; however, it shouldn’t be a huge issue. Microsoft commented on the naming convention during its press launch, 'We know, based on the product that’s coming, and just how different our approach will be overall, it wouldn’t be right to call it Windows 9.'

Can I try a preview of Windows 10?

If you’re keen to get your hands on Windows 10, you can sign up with a Microsoft account to be part of the ‘Windows Insider Program’. To do this, head to windows.microsoft.com/en-gb/windows/preview.

After accepting the terms for the program, you’ll be walked through the process for downloading Windows 10 onto your computer.

However, it must be noted that what you’ll end up with is an early technical build of Windows 10. It’s entirely likely this could suffer from bugs and teething issues.

If you’re not an experienced computer user with an urgent need to see what Windows 10 will look like, we recommend waiting until the final release is available.

When can I upgrade to Windows 10 and how much does it cost?

Microsoft expects to release the new operating system in 2015. No costs have been announced, though if the release of Windows 8 is anything to go by, Microsoft may potentially offer it at discount in the initial months after its release.

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