The Consumer Preview: Windows 10

So this is an update on my use of the Windows 10 Technical Preview which was updated about a week ago. Build 9926, which in this post I will also call the Consumer Preview (CP), brought a set of consumer features, apps, and UI tweaks including Cortana and the Continuum mode. The Preview also added the new Universal app versions of Photos, Maps, and the Beta version of the Store. As always this is just my views on the most current version of Windows 10, not a review cause this ain’t done.

Now on with the show.

Cortana_Window10

When I first tried Windows 10 I thought it was something that built on Windows 8 but was clearly geared toward traditional PCs. That opinion still holds. It is not like touch is gone or that Metro has been banished but 10 feels like its first priority is to work on laptops and desktops.

Anybody expecting this OS to be a retreat back to comfort of Windows 7, however, will be in for a rude awakening. Windows 10 doesn’t feel or work too differently on the desktop from 7 or 8 (it’s miles different from XP but so was 7). There have been a lot of little touches to UI to make everything more consistent; icons are now more minimalistic and sort line drawings. The CP has refinements to animations such as moving into and out TaskView and maximizing and minimizing windows. The Start menu has been changed for Build 9926. For one it has been rebuilt as a XAML application and the ability to make it full screen has been added. Additionally the Menu can’t be shrunk or stretched as in the Technical Preview (but that will return). Microsoft has also begun consolidating functionality in places like Settings. Lastly the Action Center from Windows Phone has been added to the CP replacing the Notifications tab and Charms bar.

I like Windows 10 in the little time I use it. I maybe a sucker for the shiny but I like the animations and shadows effects just like I appreciate the small tweaks to the windows with new icons. Whenever I use 10 I can’t help but think it is what should’ve run on Windows RT devices. The ability to run Metro apps on the desktop makes them more appealing to users who live primarily with their hands hovering over a mouse. However some older Windows users won’t be taken by the new system’s charms. It is clear that while Windows is moving away from the touchy-ness of Windows 8 it’s not going back to Aero.

Window10_Store_Beta

For users who liked Windows 8 and those who have enjoyed Windows tablets Windows 10 will be a mixed blessing. Almost all the gestures introduced three years ago work but they are not the same. Windows 8 was about mobile and touch first, Windows 10 is about the desktop and is merely touch friendly.

The new TaskView replaces the open apps tab when using the left swipe gesture. I like it but those who like the fast app switching of the latter may feel unproductive. You might feel worse when swiping right and using the Action Center which has some of the Charms bar’s quick settings and functionality when in tablet mode. The other touch gestures remain; slide from the top still closes apps. Right now there are a few rough points in the tablet side of things, but Continuum on first blush works and better yet can be done manually. With Windows 10 I think it is time Microsoft rethought the Start Screen for tablets and phones and PCs.

On the app front I have only begun to play around with the redesigned Modern programs like Photos and Maps (haven’t played with the new Xbox, Calculator, and Recorder). Maps is similar to a Preview Map app in 8.1 with exception of Street View and 3D maps. Photos is miles better than the current Windows 8.1 version (still miss the Panorama cover of 8 but changes coming make up for it). The new Store app, in Beta, is also on the CP and handles Windows 10 better than the current Store. The new design gets rid of the Panorama scroll and green/white color scheme for a more sedate style. It is a little bit more professional and maintains the same info, screenshots, and user reviews.

Window10_Preview_9926

And that was the Consumer Preview. It’s a solid build and is moving along slow but steady but there is more to be done before its shipped.

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