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Showing posts with label WINDOWS10. Show all posts
Showing posts with label WINDOWS10. Show all posts

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Xbox One To Get Windows 10 Powered Update This Fall

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Looks like the roll out of Windows 10 is inviting all sorts of updates and improvements across a major chunk of Microsoft’s products. Yes, this includes the Xbox One, and as per the software giant, the game console will be receiving a major software overhaul later this year, bringing it in-line with the company’s latest desktop OS.
Windows 10 has already brought in an array of features that allow desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets users to seamlessly integrate with the Xbox One, but Microsoft made no secret of its efforts to improve the console even further when it announced a number of changes it was bringing to the gaming-box at the annual E3 conference.
Xbox-One-Windows 10
However, the Windows maker never ushered a word about the ultimate roll out of this much awaited Windows 10-powered update which is set to revamp the entire UI of the Xbox One – most notably the Dashboard. Speaking at the Gamescom conference, Microsoft has finally given us a time frame to bank on, and it looks like November would be the month when all Xbox One gamers will be gushing with excitement. While the redesigned Dashboard is indeed looking spectacular, it’s the addition of Cortana which will really help gamers elevate their gaming performance. Cortana will serve as your personal ‘gaming’ assistant, and Microsoft is saying that it will only “get smarter over time.” Users will be able to say “Hey Cortana, record the last minute and share it to my activity feed”, which should immediately publish a game clip.
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The Xbox One was aimed to become the mainstay entertainment-box for our living room, but over the course of its 20-month lifespan we’ve seen that mantle to slip away from Microsoft. Windows 10 has been referred by many to be Microsoft’s redemption, following what can be described as a less than satisfactory lineup of OS releases starting from Windows Vista. Windows 10 seems to be really holding its ground with a very positive feedback from users, which could be a sign of good things to come for the Xbox One as it now gears up to receive an update powered by Windows 10 this fall.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has also confirmed the arrival of a TV DVR functionality for the Xbox One, but that’s been slated for a 2016 release.

Control Your Android Phone From Windows 10 Using Cortana, Here’s How

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The world of the digital personal assistant is just starting to get interesting with the arrival of Cortana on desktops and tablets thanks to Windows 10, and while mobile has long had the likes of Cortana, Siri and Google Now around, we have a feeling that only now are things about to truly spring to life.
Part of that is Cortana making the jump to iOS and Android, breaking free of its Windows shackles. If you’re using Windows 10 and an Android device right now, though, you can, albeit indirectly, take advantage of Cortana on your smartphone before the digital assistant officially makes its way to the platform. You’ll just need to jump through a few hoops first.
Control-Android-with-Cortana
The heart of this whole thing is Tasker, a popular Android app that allows a plethora of tasks and actions to be completed automated based on states such as location, time of day and button presses. Tasker is best described as a more flexible version of IFTTT for Android, and its uses are almost endless thanks to the app’s many third-party plugins available on the Google Play Store. Turns out it can also be used to make Windows 10’s Cortana control an Android phone. Who knew?!
Cortana1
To set it up on your phone and PC, here’s what you need to do:
Step 1: On your Android device, install Tasker and the plugins AutoVoice and AutoRemote from the Google Play Store.
Step 2: On your PC, install the AutoRemote extension for Chrome.
Step 3: Right-click the extension icon, select Options, add your Android device and enable Cortana commands for it.
Step 4: Download this Tasker profile to your Android device and import it to the app from Profiles tab> Import and then browse for the file.
Step 5: Set Google Chrome as your default Windows 10 browser.
Once that’s done, you will be able to do things like ask your phone to turn WiFi off right from Cortana on your PC, as can be seen in the video embedded below. It sounds, and indeed, looks like magic, even if it does mean you’ll forever want to use your computer to do anything!
Give it a whirl and see how you find it. You’ll definitely love Tasker if you haven’t tried it already!

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Windows 10: The 5 best new features

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Windows 10 Features

Windows. 10. Is. Here.
For a while there, it felt as though this day might never come. The world, trapped for an eternity in the nightmare that was Windows 8. But just as Microsoft was the cause of all that ailed us in Windows 8, so too will it be the cure. With Windows 10, Microsoft formally admits that its awful vision of a single interface for tablets and desktop computers alike was just that: Awful.
There is no question that the single most important reason to upgrade your computer to Windows 10 from Windows 8 is to bury the previous-generation operating system forever and never look back. That’s not the only reason, though.
Windows 10’s best feature might simply be that it’s not Windows 8, but in this article we’ll discuss five more fantastic features of Windows 10 that will make you want to upgrade right away.

Start Menu

windows-10-1
Ask (1,497,832 times), and it shall be given you.
Users hated — and I mean, absolutely HATED — Microsoft’s decision to kill the Start Menu in Windows 8. After well over a decade of relying on that little Start button to give us access to a wide range of software and settings, it had now vanished into thin air.
Microsoft brought the Start button back in Windows 8.1, but it did so in the most heartless imaginable way: Clicking it would take users directly to the tile-based Start screen they loathed so much.
In Windows 10, that entire Start screen has been shrunken down and merged with traditional Start elements to create an all new Start Menu when the OS is used in desktop mode. It’s instantly recognizable, and you’ll love having it back.

Edge Browser

microsoft-edge-browser
OK seriously, Internet Explorer is terrible. You know it, I know it, and Microsoft finally knows it.
Windows 10 marks the start of a transition away from Internet Explorer toward a brand new browser called Microsoft Edge. It’s faster, it’s sleeker, and most importantly, it’s not Internet Explorer.
Many companies are still reliant on IE, so Microsoft isn’t going to anger them by just tossing its old browser to the curb. Eventually, however, it will go the way of the dinosaur and leave Edge in its wake.

Cortana

cortana-desktop
Apple’s introduction of Siri caused all of its major rivals to create their own copycat products, and Cortana emerged among them. Every company copies every other company in consumer tech though, and Cortana is actually quite useful.
Of course, confining Cortana to the Windows Phone platform meant that about 19 people on the planet got to enjoy it. Now, billions will eventually have access to Microsoft’s voice-controlled virtual assistant.

Continuum Mode

Continuum-Mode
Microsoft still insists that one operating system is the way to go for desktop computers and tablets alike, but in Windows 10, it actually decided to optimize the interface depending on which type of machine you’re on. And best of all, the company made it wonderfully simple to switch between the two different interfaces on hybrid devices like the Microsoft Surface line of tablets.
Here’s a great quick video that shows how Continuum Mode works:

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

Ballmer Thumbs Up
Last, but most certainly not least, Windows 10 is completely free for users running Windows 7, Windows 8 or Windows 8.1, as long as they’re not enterprise users. This is Microsoft’s way of saying, “we’re sorry Windows 8 was such an unrelenting travesty,” and it’s certainly appreciated.

5 awful Windows 8 problems that are fixed in Windows 10

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Windows 10 Features


Windows 10 hasn’t even been out for a day yet, but it already seems like the sour taste left in our mouths by Windows 8 is fading. It’ll be a while before it’s completely gone, but there is absolutely no question that Windows 10 is a huge step in the right direction.
There are a number of great new features in Windows 10, and we covered five of the best ones in a recent article. Now, it’s time to take a look at five of the most awful, annoying, horrible problems from Windows 8 and see how Microsoft fixed them in its new operating system.

Start Screen

Windows-8-start-screen
It’s hard to state this definitively, but it might be safe to say that everyone hates the Windows 8 Start screen. Every single person. I even have friends who work at Microsoft and hate the Start screen. On a desktop or laptop, it’s just… horrendous.
In Windows 10, Microsoft has finally brought back the desktop Start menu, and it’s glorious. It includes most of the key elements from Windows 7’s Start menu, and then adds a section for modern tiles. In this format, the Windows tiles are no longer offensive — they’re actually useful.
Here’s what it looks like now:
windows-10-1

What about tablets?

Continuum-Mode
The second major Windows 8 pain point that Windows 10 fixes is the concept ofone size fits all.
Having a single operating system that spans desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones sounds like a great idea. Having a single user interface that spans desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones sounds like a terrible idea. Microsoft did it anyway with Windows 8, but fixed the problem in Windows 10.
Now, we have Continuum Mode, which alters Windows 10’s user interface based on whether you’re on a tablet or a PC. And if you have a hybrid device, you can even switch back and forth depending on whether you’re in laptop mode or tablet mode.

Windows, in Windows

windows-10-programs
The Windows platform is named “Windows” because of the key feature that set it apart from older operating systems when it first debuted: Windows.
Windows apps open in windows. You can drag them around, drag a corner to resize them, and arrange them however you’d like. In Windows 8, modern apps took up the entire screen and you had to jump through hoops to make them the size you want.
Thankfully, Windows 10 dials down the crazy and lets you work in… windows.

Living on the Edge

microsoft-edge-browser
So long, Internet Explorer — no one will miss you. And Windows 8 was so terrible that it included not one but TWO versions of Internet Explorer!
OK, so maybe there are some people who would miss Internet Explorer, so Microsoft kept it around. It’s mainly for enterprise users though, and we highly recommend switching to Windows 10’s faster and sleeker new Edge browser.

Notification, er, Action Center

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Windows 8’s live tiles were cool in theory, but looking around for information pertaining to notifications was a huge pain. In Windows 10, Microsoft introduced the Action Center, which is its slight reimagining of Apple’s Notification Center from OS X.
Here, you’ll find all of your notifications in one place so you can act on them quickly and easily. This section is also customizable, just like Notification Center, so you can create the perfect notification hub for your needs.

Install Windows 10 On Mac Using Boot Camp, Here’s How [Tutorial]

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The following step by step tutorial will help you install Windows 10 on Mac using Boot Camp Assistant software by Apple.
Before you begin, make a full backup of your Mac using Time Machine that you can restore to in case anything goes wrong.
All set? Lets begin!
Windows 10 on Mac main
Requirements:
  • Up to date version of OS X running on a Mac with at least 2GB RAM.
  • A minimum of 30GB of free hard drive space on Mac.
  • Genuine Windows 10 product key.
  • A minimum of 16GB USB flash drive to install Windows 10 with all the required Boot Camp drivers.
  • Windows 10 ISO file. Get it from here: Download Windows 10 Pro ISO File Without Product Key From Microsoft.
How to install Windows 10 on Mac:
Step 1: Launch Boot Camp Assistant. Do a Spotlight Search for it.
Step 2: Check both options under this ‘Select Tasks’ window as shown in the screenshot below.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.15.59 AM
Step 3: Insert your USB flash drive and select your Windows 10 .iso file, as shown again in the screenshots.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.18.12 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.17.49 AM
Step 4: Click Continue, you will get a warning saying your flash drive will be formatted. Click on Continue again.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.18.03 AM
Step 5: Now sit back and wait for Boot Camp Assistant to copy all the required Windows files and Boot Camp drivers to your USB drive. This could take a while depending on the speed of your Internet connection and your computer.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.19.11 AM
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 9.47.27 AM
Step 6: Once the USB drive is ready, it will ask you to create a Windows partition. Select at least 30GB for Windows 10 and then click on Install button.
Screen Shot 2015-07-30 at 10.00.45 AM
Step 7: Boot Camp will now create the required partition and then it will reboot your Mac.
Step 8. On restart, you will be booted into Windows Setup screen.
Win10setup
Step 9: From here, enter your product key when asked, select your Boot Camp created partition when prompted on where to install Windows. Basically just follow the on-screen prompts to start Windows installation process.
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Step 10: Once Windows is installed, your Mac will automatically reboot right into Windows 10.
Step 11: Once you have set up your login account stuff and are in desktop, you will need to install Boot Camp drivers for your Mac. These are the same drivers which were copied by Boot Camp Assistant software to your USB in Step 5 above. Simply navigate to contents of USB flash drive from File Explorer and run setup.exe to install the required drivers for your Mac.
Step: 12: After the drivers are installed and your computer is rebooted, you should now have fully functional Windows 10 running on your Mac.
win10desktop
Dual-boot Windows 10 with OS X:
Now to dual-boot between the two operating systems, that is Windows 10 and OS X Yosemite, during Mac’s startup boot chime, press and hold option/alt key until you are presented with a menu to choose between Windows and Mac partitions, select your desired OS to boot into it.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

How To Download And Install Windows 10 Free Upgrade [Tutorial]

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Windows 10 is now live, if you are eligible for a free upgrade, you will get a notification for the download soon.
The following tutorial helps you download and install the free Windows 10 upgrade on your PC.
Windows 10 final install guide main
Before you begin, make sure:
Step 1: Run Windows Update and see if your free reserved copy of Windows 10 is ready for install. It is important to note here that Microsoft is doing a phase rollout which means not everyone will get the update on day 1.
Windows 10 force download
If your Windows Update is showing you ‘We’ll let you know when the upgrade is ready to be installed on this PC.’ message, fret not, you can force it to download the update right now without any waiting time. Follow the instructions here on how to do that: Force Download Windows 10 Free Upgrade Right Now, Here’s How [Tutorial].
Windows 10 force download 3
Step 2: When Windows Update is finished downloading Windows 10 update, you will get the following prompts.
Either click on Restart now on Windows Update screen.
Windows 10 force download 9
or Start the upgrade now on this screen.
Windows 10 force download 12
Step 3: Your PC will now reboot, after which Windows 10 installation will automatically begin.
The installation is divided into three phases: Copying files, Installing features and drivers, Configuring settings.
IMG_2794
You don’t need to do anything. Just wait patiently for it to do its thing. During the installation process, your computer may restart a couple of times. The duration of this process can take anywhere from 10 to 15 minutes, depending on the size of your data and speed of your computer.
Step 4: Once the installation is complete, you will boot into this screen.
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Step 5: Now simply follow the on-screen instructions to get to the login screen.
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That’s it! You’re done! Happy Windows 10 day!

Friday, 3 July 2015

Windows 10 Home, Pro, Enterprise, Education Features Comparison [Chart]

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With Windows 10 due for launch at the end of this month, Microsoft has just released a comprehensive comparison chart outlining the key differences of its upcoming desktop operating system iterations. So if you were wondering what bells and whistles the software giant had packed into the OS, this would be the perfect place to start your journey.
Microsoft published a blog post quite a while back which identified seven Windows 10 editionsin total, including two designed for phones and one for Internet of Things devices. At that time, while there was some insight provided into the features that each edition will offer once released, but that info was not enough to help users make decision on which edition is right for them.
Windows 10 main
And so now on a dedicated page, the company is comparing the desktop versions which comprise of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Windows 10 Education with the features split between two types of experiences: Core Experiences and Business Experiences.
All four desktop editions happen to carry the same set of core features, be it the Home edition, or the Enterprise one. You get the good ol’ customizable Start Menu, the forever on-guard Windows Defender and Windows Firewall, the new InstantGo feature for fast startup, and of course the highly anticipated voice assistant Cortana. Windows Hello, Continuum and the newMicrosoft Edge browser are also listed as the core features for all four Windows 10 editions.
All the major differences however, are set on the Business Experiences front. For example, you may have device encryption available on Home edition and the rest of the editions, but features like Domain Join, BitLocker, Remote Desktop Access etc. will be missing from the entry level edition.
Some features mentioned in the comparison chart will be dependent on specific hardware, or a particular firmware, for that matter. This information has been detailed in the footnotes below, which also includes an update regarding the Enterprise Data Protection. Apparently the feature will arrive “sometime later” after Windows 10 Pro, Enterprise, and Education is released.
Core Experiences:
Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 8.04.28 PM
Business Experiences:
Screen Shot 2015-07-03 at 8.08.38 PM
Windows 10 is due to launch this month on the 29th, and will be a free upgrade for all users running licensed copies of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1.
(Source: Microsoft)

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Microsoft accelerates pace with second Windows 10 update in 24 hours

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Microsoft has added yet another build - 10159 - to the fast ring, just hours after unveiling a major build 10154 which itself followed 10130.

Explaining the rapid succession of builds, Microsoft's Gabe Aul said both 10158 and 10159 passed the evaluation and validation stages quickly enough to go on Windows Insider Fast Ring and be available to Windows Insider Programme users.
Microsoft has added yet another build - 10159 - to the fast ring, just hours after unveiling a major build 10154 which itself followed 10130.
Microsoft has added yet another build - 10159 - to the fast ring, just hours after unveiling a major build 10154 which itself followed 10130.
What's likely to happen is a fair few of the estimated 4.1 million users will be downloading both 10158 and 10159 at the same time, which may cause error 0x80246017 to happen. Aul suggests that users should reboot their computers if that happens and choose 10159 from the settings options.

What's new?

10158 brought some general user interface improvements and refinements as well as a number of tweaks - such as a dark theme, Cortana integration with Office 365 and a new Edge browser button.

10159 doesn't bring major changes but added over 300 (yet to be documented) fixes. Windows 10 launches on July 29, so Microsoft still has plenty of time to push a few more builds through the door.

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Get Free Windows 10 Upgrade Without Windows 8 Or 7, Here’s How

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July 29th is the big day for Windows users, with Microsoft’s Windows 10 set to be made available to the public. Currently working its way through the beta process, Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for anyone currently using either Windows 7 or Windows 8 so long as they upgrade within 12 months. If you don’t own either of Microsoft’s last two versions of Windows though, you’ll need to stump out a sum of up to $199 to get onto the Windows 10 bandwagon, which doesn’t really fall into the ‘cheap’ category, considering Apple’s OS X is a free upgrade – for everyone.
But there does appear to be one way around having to buy a copy of Windows 10 no matter what, assuming you’re willing to put in a little work today in the name of gaining yourself a free copy at a later date. If it means saving a couple of hundred dollars, then we suggest doing it without delay.
Windows 10 upgrade
According to Microsoft’s own documentation, anyone who is running the latest build of Insider Preview release of Windows 10 when the operating system goes live on July 29th will be able to upgrade to the shipping, retail RTM version at no extra cost. Furthermore, the version they then have will be a full, genuine product for life which means it will receive updates just fine and won’t face any of the activiation problems faced by less than genuine installations.
So the upshot of all this is that it’s worth downloading the Insider Prevew release of Windows 10 before July 29th, especially if you don’t currently have a genuine copy of Windows 7 or Windows 8.
Here’s what exactly you need to do now before Windows 10 goes RTM:
Step 1: Enroll in Windows 10 Insider Preview Program and download and install Windows 10 preview build today by following our guide here: How To Download And Install Windows 10 Technical Preview [Guide].
Step 2: Make sure you are updated to the latest build 10130 or over of Windows 10 Insider Preview.
Step 3: Set your PC running Windows 10 build 10130 or over using your Microsoft Account.
That’s it, from now on, you will automatically get updates for any future builds of Insider Preview Program and once final RTM version of Windows 10 is released on July 29, it will be available to you as well for free. Once updated to genuine full and final version copy of Windows 10, you can even choose to reinstall fresh if you wish to.
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Since the window for downloading the Insider Preview release is very limited, we recommend that you make your move right now.
Windows 10 is a big release for Microsoft as it tries to get back some of the reputation that it lost with a less than popular Windows 8 release. Windows 10 is also the version that Microsoft will be using to try and close the chasm between its desktop/laptop, tablet and mobile software, with them all using the Windows 10 moniker.
Windows-10-phone-cortana.png
Microsoft has big hopes for Windows 10. We’ll know better whether those hopes are well founded come July 29th.
If you already have genuine copy of Windows 7 or 8 installed and don’t want to mess around with Windows 10 Insider Preview builds now, follow this guide here to reserve your free copy of Windows 10 today
(Source: Microsoft)

Monday, 1 June 2015

Windows 10 Gets Official Release Date In July

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The fast release rumours were right.
This morning Microsoft formally announced the date we had all been waiting for: the global release for Windows 10 – a version the company claims is so important it skipped ‘Windows 9’ completely!
July 29th is the date to circle in your calendars and Microsoft did it in some style, letting new Windows 10 voice assistant Cortana read it out. What’s more a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed the day represents a global release across 190 markets.
A truly free upgrade?
In addition to the launch date, Microsoft also issued a statement on free upgrades saying:
“Consumers will have one year from July 29th to take advantage of the free upgrade. Once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, Microsoft will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device—at no cost.”
Windows 10 Is Coming Soon - Image credit Microsoft
Windows 10 Is Coming Soon – Image credit Microsoft
The company will also be operating a reservation program in place so eager users can have Windows 10 pre-installed on their PCs and ready to go on July 29th. I’ll get into how this works and how you can be first in line in my next post.
High Cost For Some
Sadly one area Microsoft chose not to expand upon today was the upgrade cost for those customers who aren’t eligible for the free upgrade.
This is actually fairly complicated with some versions of Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 ineligible as well as older Windows platforms like Vista and XP. 

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Sunday, 31 May 2015

Windows 10 OEM Pricing, Release Date Leaked

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It looks like some of the mystery surrounding when Windows 10 will be available may be starting to unravel, with the pricing structure for the latest version of Microsoft’s desktop operating system potentially out in the wild also. The news doesn’t come from an expertly crafted press release and there was no fanfare to speak of either, and that’s for one very good reason: we’re not supposed to know yet.
The reason we do know, or at least think that we do, is that U.S. retailer Newegg appears to have accidentally outed Windows 10’s release date and indeed its price after a product page for the software went live. It’s a fairly safe assumption that this information isn’t supposed to be public just yet, but these things do have a tendency to happen.
Windows-10-main.png
Assuming Newegg’s information is indeed accurate then it would seem that Windows 10 will be available to OEMs – Original Equipment Manufacturers – come August 31st, with both Home and Professional versions going on sale at that time. Those looking to buy the former will need to hand over $109 in order to get their copy, while Windows 10 Professional will set buyers back $149. It’s worth reiterating that these prices are for the OEM version of Windows 10 though, so it’s likely that full retail boxed copies will see different prices come launch day.
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After Microsoft said in March that a Windows 10 release was due some time in the summer, the company has been quiet about anything a little more specific. and it’s important to note at this juncture that Newegg does have form for being a little premature with release dates after a similar situation saw its Windows 8 launch date turn out to be incorrect.
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With that caveat in mind we urge caution as far as these details are concerned, but in the absence of hard dates and prices from Microsoft, this is as good as it gets for now. Hopefully Microsoft will put us out of our misery soon enough.
(source(s): Newegg via ZDNet)

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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The current build of Microsoft's upcoming operating system offers several improvements.

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Microsoft has been racing to put the final touches on Windows 10 before its expected release date in late July. There have been three public updates in the last month: Builds 10061, 10074 and 10122. At this point, the interface and features for the new operating system are essentially set -- on May 20, Gabe Aul, engineering general manager at Microsoft, wrote about build 10122 on the company's official blog: "From here on out you'll see fewer big feature changes from build to build, and more tuning, tweaking, stabilizing, and polishing."
So now is the ideal time to catch up on the state of the operating system since we looked at the last major release in late January. At this point, to a great extent what you see is what you'll get.
In this review, I'll tell you in about the major changes to Windows 10 since the big January release. As you'll see, they're mostly to the good, although there are still some rough edges left in the operating system.

The new Start menu

Microsoft's decision to kill the Start menu in Windows 8 was one of the more controversial decisions the company ever made -- so in Windows 10, the company decided to backtrack and build it back in. Since the late January release, Microsoft has changed the menu several times.
In Build 10074, the menu was made easily resizable. You clicked a small double-headed arrow on the upper-right of the menu to grow it to take up the entire screen or shrink it back to its original size. You could also make it larger or smaller by dragging the top or right side.
windows 10 build 1022
The Start menu in Windows 10’s latest build. (Click for larger version.)
However, in the newest build, 10122, that behavior has changed. There's no longer a double-headed arrow to switch between the full-screen Start menu and smaller-sized Start menu. Instead, users with traditional PCs and laptops get the smaller-size Start menu by default, while those with tablets get the full-screen Start menu. (I haven't had a chance to see the phone version yet.) To change the size between a smaller and larger Start menu, you have to go to Settings / Personalization / Start and make the adjustment in the "Start behaviors" section.
That's a smart move, because it cleans up the Start menu by getting rid of the double-headed arrow, and it's not likely people will want to switch between full-size and smaller-size Start screens very often. However, Microsoft made another change to Start menu behavior that made it worse, not better. In build 10122, you can resize the height of the Start menu, but not the width. Previously, you could change both. I found this frustrating, because it didn't let me have tiles in as many horizontal columns as I'd like. I'm hoping that this behavior will be changed in a later build.
If you've ever been nostalgic for the Windows 7 transparent Aero look, you'll be happy with another change Microsoft has made to the Start menu -- you can now make it transparent. Go into Settings and select Personalization / Colors, and turn it on using the "Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent" slider. Is this useful? Not really. But I'm a fan of eye candy and it looks good to me.
There's only one more minor change to the Start menu in the latest build -- the Power button is now at the bottom left of the screen rather than the upper right. I've seen other reviewers complain about this. To me, that's a sign they have too much time on their hands. Upper right, bottom left; it's all the same.

New apps

One of the many disappointing things about Windows 8 was its apps, which tended to be underpowered and far less useful than those in more traditional Windows desktop applications. Rather than showcasing the power of Windows 8, they undermined it.
Things are getting better. For example, the new Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps are both far superior to those in Windows 8. Unlike the Windows 8 versions, you can easily toggle between them by clicking the calendar icon in the Mail app or the mail icon in the Calendar app. Still, the implementation needs improvement: In Mail, the icon for switching to Calendar is on a vertical bar of icons on the left-hand side of the screen, while in Calendar the mail icon is on a horizontal bar on the lower left. More visual consistency between the two apps would make switching between them simpler. Still, they're clear improvements over the Windows 8 versions.
The Windows 8 Calendar always felt especially cluttered and klutzy to me; doing something as simple as switching to a different view (Day, Work week or Month) required calling up a menu and then making a selection. In the new app, those choices are always visible -- just tap the view you want. In addition, a small view of the entire month is always visible, even when you're looking at a single day, making it easy to navigate to see your calendar for any day of the month. I never would have considered using the Windows 8 Calendar. I can see using the Windows 10 version, though.
Widnows 10 calendar
The redesigned Calendar app not only looks good, but adds new features such as support for Google Calendar. (Click for larger version.)
Another advantage to the new Calendar app is that it now supports Google Calendar, something that the Windows 8 version didn't allow. You won't even have to jump through hoops to do it. Just click Settings / Accounts / Add account / Google and follow the prompts. You can also add an Exchange calendar or an iCloud calendar in this way.
The Mail app, like Calendar, now has a simpler, cleaner look. Icons across its top are always available for common tasks such as replying, forwarding, deleting and flagging mail. Icons down the left let you do things such as browsing your mail folders, switching to different mail accounts, changing your settings, creating new mail and, as previously mentioned, switching to the Calendar.
Even more important: It supports POP-based email, something the Windows 8 app was incapable of doing. Also much improved are the text- and mail-formatting features, which are now Word-like and designed to allow you to do things such as insert tables into mail. That and more are available from a formatting toolbar that lets you change fonts and font attributes, change the color of text and insert tables and pictures.
Not everything worked for me. For instance, you are supposed to be able to do spell checking from the toolbar as well, but the spell check didn't actually check my spelling, and the icons for inserting a table, picture or a link were grayed-out so I couldn't use them. Presumably that will be fixed in a later build.
The app also includes new touch-based actions, including swiping left to delete a message.

The Edge browser

Internet Explorer's replacement, the new browser once called Spartan and now called Edge, has been filled out in the newest build. It shows a lot of promise, but is clearly still very much a work in progress.
The first thing I noticed was that it's clean -- free from visual clutter such as Internet Explorer's oversized forward and back buttons. The Address Bar sits underneath tabs rather than beside them as with Internet Explorer, which also makes for a cleaner look. The inspiration for Edge is clearly Chrome -- it's an attempt to strip away as many menus and controls as possible in order to make the content on Web pages the primary focus.
It works. I haven't regularly used Internet Explorer for years, in part because it's out of date. But based on Edge's overall visual appeal, it could eventually become my regular browser.
Windows 10 Edge browser
The Edge browser sports a clean interface, with Chrome-like simplicity. (Click for larger version.)
That being said, Edge still has a long way to go. The first issue is performance; I found it slow to load Web pages and buggy as well, sometimes closing tabs on its own. That should be able to be cleaned up fairly easily.
An even bigger problem was one of the features that Microsoft has been touting -- the ability to annotate Web pages, and save and share them with others. On some pages I visited, when I clicked the small note icon on the upper-right that turned the feature on, the site crashed. On other pages, the feature's toolbar would appear on top of the screen with icons for doing things such as drawing on the page, typing on the page and so on, but they didn't work. And on yet other pages, when I clicked the note icon, I got the statement, "Web Notes aren't available."
Only a few pages let me annotate them. And even then, when I clicked the Share button so I could share the annotated page with others, I received the message, "Project Spartan can't share right now. Try again later." I tried again later. Same message.
Another feature, Reading View, worked as promised. In Reading View everything extraneous is stripped from a page, including ads, navigation and anything else that distracts from the article itself. The article is presented in a clean, scrollable window, graphics included. It's easy to get in and out of Reading View -- click its icon at the top of the screen to toggle it on or off. I found it particularly useful for reading long text sections.
Missing at the moment is the ability to tear off a tab to its own window, or drag a window into another. That's basic browser functionality, so I expect that to be fixed before launch.
The bottom line? The design is right, the feature set promising. But Edge still can't be considered a fully functional browser.

Small changes

There have been a number of other tweaks. In the latest build, Microsoft continues to try and get all system settings in a single location, rather than put them in multiple places as was the case in Windows 8, where they were scattered between Control Panel and Settings. In the Personalization section you can now find settings for Background, Colors and Themes, which were previously found in Control Panel -- this makes life much easier for people (like me) who constantly tweak Windows' look and feel.
The eagle-eyed may notice a very small change that was ushered in by build 10074. The small watermark on the lower right of the Windows desktop no longer labels the build as a Technical Preview. Instead, it's called an Insider Preview. That may seem a small detail, but in Microsoft's world it means something -- the public previews have moved to a more finished phase, one that more closely resembles the final release of the operating system.
The Cortana digital assistant has also received a minor makeover with the addition of a vertical set of icons on its left, so that you can more easily use a variety of its features including a notebook, calendar, places and settings features.

The bottom line

Overall, Windows 10 looks to generally be in good shape before its expected release date in two months. The Start menu goes a long way toward making Windows a unified operating system rather than two separate ones kludged together -- one for touch-based devices and another for traditional computers.
The improved Mail and Calendar apps show that Microsoft is getting serious about making Windows apps fully powered ones rather than pale imitations of desktop apps. And the Edge browser shows a lot of promise as well, although it's still so buggy that it's hard to truly review it.
Apart from Edge, though, Windows 10 is just about fully baked. And if Edge and minor issues such as fine-tuning the Start menu and fixing the Mail app can be resolved before the final release, it looks to be a winner.
If you haven't downloaded Windows 10 yet, and want to give it a try, you can find it by following this link.

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