Just ahead of last month’s Windows 10 event, we expressed concerns that the new OS would struggle in the new age of device and screen fragmentation. But as more details emerge, we’re beginning to change our minds: this upgrade looks like it really has got the legs that its predecessor lacked.
For one thing, it’s taken that device fragmentation into account; as more people access their digital content on phablets, smartphones and tablets, Windows 10 ingeniously bridges the gap between traditional desktop devices and touch-screen mobile gadgets, shape-shifting according to the device it’s running on. Thanks to a fiendishly clever new feature called Continuum, Windows 10 can automatically sense what kind of machine it’s on, altering its interface accordingly.
For example, users of hybrid devices that can be used via the touchscreen in tablet mode or via keyboard in laptop mode will receive different automatic notifications as they switch mode. Attach the keyboard, and a notification appears asking if you want to use the smaller Start menu (yes, it’s back in Windows 10). Detach it, and the message asks if you want to change the Start menu to full-screen mode.
This goes a long way to unifying the OS into one interface, something that Windows 8 failed dismally to do.
It’s also great to see the return of the deeply-missed Start menu, which has expanded in width to accommodate more apps. It displays a vertical menu list of apps on the left hand side, with the larger right hand side of the box reserved for Modern apps (the new name for Metro apps) which regularly update to show changing information (like news and weather). There’s also an easy-to-find Power button in the top right corner, along with a button that switches the Start menu from partial to full-screen.
There are other features we just haven’t the space to mention here but one just has to be flagged up: Cortana, a Siri-like digital assistant. A Cortana search bar appears below the Start menu (you can type into it or tap the mike key and speak to it). If performs a universal search, scouring through your files, videos, music, settings and apps and the Web (courtesy of Bing).
Windows 10 is scheduled to be released later this year. It could be the game-changer Microsoft is hoping for.