Windows 10 is shaping up to be really, really good. I’ve been running it as my primary OS on my Surface Pro 3 since early April (release 10041), and I’m getting really excited for the final product.
Microsoft has taken the things that worked with Windows 8.1, the things we missed from Windows 7, and some of the best features from Windows Phone and rolled them into their new OS. The best part, though, is that it all fits together and is working really well.
My Surface is dual booting 10 and 8.1, but running 10 almost exclusively. All of my other PCs are running 8.1, and I’ve started having repeated experience on them. I’ve started sitting down at stable, solid windows 8.1 and missing features of 10. I find myself wishing for the Start Menu, which I haven’t used (or missed) for over a year. I groan when I open a Modern/Metro app and it demands to eat an entire screen. I don’t care about the voice command aspect, but Cortana’s information is useful and really handy. Because I miss these things when they’re gone, I know they’re good. That’s the sign of a good update.
High-End Performance on Low-End Hardware
Through the 90s and the early 2000s Windows put on weight. Upgrading to 95, 98, 2000, XP, or Vista required a serious assessment of your hardware. Usually, that assessment ended with the realization that a hardware upgrade was needed to handle the software upgrade. This was so frequently the case that the common practice was not to upgrade the OS, but just to buy a new PC. Luckily that ended with Vista.
Windows 7 is lighter weight than Vista (You can run it on a netbook!), 8 is lighter than 7, and 10 is the least resource-intense of the bunch. That’s really pretty amazing when you think about it. The best part about this is it makes upgrading a no-brainer. You can put Windows 10 on that laptop you have on the shelf, it’ll probably be fine. Aunt Sue’s six-year-old Dell desktop? It’ll run 10 like a champ. That machine you cobbled together from spare parts for your friend? Upgrade to 10 with confidence. Not only will Windows 10 run on most modern computers without issue, but anyone currently running 7 or 8 will be able to upgrade for free.
The Start Menu is Back, and Better than Before
The new Start Menu combines the convenience and familiarity people like with the instant information of the Start Screen’s Live Tiles. These really shine on touch screen devices but fall flat in a keyboard and mouse configuration. I know I’m in a small minority of people who appreciate the Start Screen. I also recognize that it’s kind of dumb on a non-touch system.
For the uninitiated, a Live Tile is a big icon for an application that can also display information from the app. The perfect example is a weather app. At first glance it’s just an icon, after a second it “flips” and you now get a quick look at the current temperature, today’s high and low, precipitation info, and an alert if there is severe weather. You can get all the information you need without having to open the application.
The new Start Menu is the best of both worlds. Traditionalists will get their list of installed applications back and fans of the Start Screen will get to have their Live Tiles. And the very best part? It looks and works better than either the Start Screen or the Windows 7 Start Menu.