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Here are the 9 new Windows 10 features you should try first

Michael Sawh

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Here are the 9 new Windows 10 features you should try first

We're only a few days away from the Windows 10 going on sale. After the disappointment of Windows 8, it's set to become one of the most important operating system launches in Microsoft's history.

Whether you've already decided to upgrade, or are still considering whether to do so or not, here are the Windows 10 features we think you should try first.

Watch – A quick guide to what's new in Windows 10

Cortana Windows 10

1) The Cortana virtual assistant

Microsoft’s virtual assistant, which has been present on its phone operating system for a while now, is one of the headline features of Windows 10. Accessible directly from the desktop with either a click or a voice command, it’s used as a handy helper when you need to get stuff done.

You can ask it basic questions, such as "What’s the weather like?", and it’ll populate with the latest news each morning, but it also supports more advanced features such as providing directions, creating reminders and dictating short notes – there's lots of different commands to try.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 7: Should you upgrade?

Microsoft Edge

2) The new Microsoft Edge web browser

The new Microsoft Edge browser, formerly known as Project Spartan, wasn’t included in the first few builds of Windows 10. But since its big unveiling at Build 2015, it’s now fully featured and ready to use.

Edge is the new default web browser for Windows 10, with Internet Explorer consigned to the background to support legacy software. It features a host of built-in features such as a screen grab tool with touchscreen doodling abilities, a note pad and reading mode. Cortana will also be built into the browser, so your search results will be tailored to you, plus you’ll have restaurant reviews, directions and so on beamed straight to you.

It’s actually a slick looking browser, with a familiar tabbed view and a dual functioning address bar that’ll act as your search box too. Microsoft doesn’t seem to have completely left the idea of Internet Explorer in the dust though, as the icons do look almost exactly the same.

Related: Windows 10 System Requirements – What will you need to run Windows 10?

Windows 10 Start Menu

3) The new and improved Start Menu

After reinstating the Start button in Windows 8.1, Microsoft is now bringing back the menu to go with it. Happy times for desktop users – it’s no longer just a place to jump awkwardly back to the tablet-friendly interface.

Now it’s a more familiar place where you can view regularly used apps, have the ability to use universal search (including web search) instead of swiping from the right of the screen to reveal the charms bar and even have the ability to shut down or restart a Windows 10 laptop or tablet.

There's also a new ‘Me’ tile, which still gives the tiled interface a presence desktop mode where you can re-size tiles depending on how prominent you want them to be.

In something of a surprise move, Microsoft has softened its hard stance on the block-colour aesthetic of Windows 10 and added transparency back into the Start Menu. Again it’s a small adjustment but one that definitely helps general navigation. The login screen has also been spruced up.

Related: Windows 10 Start Menu: How Microsoft is bringing the iconic feature back to life

4) Windows Store apps on your desktop

In another attempt to make the Metro interface work in a more traditional Windows way, apps downloaded from the Windows Store can now be re-sized and will include title bars so you can minimise and maximize them giving you more flexibility with how apps can be displayed.

These apps will also work directly across platforms so, in theory, the same programme will run on your computer, tablet, phone and even the Xbox One.

Some of this will be familiar to Windows 8 users who upgraded to Windows 8.1, but it'll be totally new territory for Windows 7 users out there. Try it out – you might like it.

Related: 9 annoying Windows 10 problems Microsoft needs to fix

Windows 10 Task View

5) New Virtual Desktops and Task View

A key tweak has been made to one of the most important features of Windows 10, as far as hardcore Desktop users are concerned, which is virtual desktops. On previous builds the apps you had open on any desktop were shown on every desktop’s taskbar, making it cluttered. Now there’s an option to filter the taskbar, so only the apps on your current desktop are shown. It’s a small tweak but a very welcome one.

Another part of this system is the new Task View, which makes it easier to see all the open apps and windows all at once. It's similar to previous 'app switching' implementations in previous versions of Windows, but the grid layout is easier to use quickly at a glance.

The fact Windows finally supports virtual desktops natively is long overdue, but it's a very welcome addition all the same.

Related: 7 Best Windows 10 Laptops and Tablets

6) Improved 'Snap Assist' for windows

The window snap features of Windows have been a useful mainstay since Windows 7, but they've had a bit of a refresh for Windows 10. The new ‘Snap Assist’ UI will let you pull in windows from anywhere, even if they're on a different virtual desktop to the one you're working on.

It'll also make it easier to have different layouts of windows, including integrating 'touch apps' that can snap to the side and different grid layouts. It's just another way Windows 10 is more power user friendly.

Related: Windows 10 vs Windows 8: Should you upgrade?

Command Prompt

7) Copy and paste in Common Prompt

Hold the phones. Yes, even Command Prompt is getting a tweaked. Long-time users of Windows will be familiar with using Prompt to run in MS-DOS mode and in Windows 10 you will now be able to paste directories with the Ctrl and V keyboard shortcut. A simple, but nonetheless useful feature for some users.

Windows 10 Build 10041

8) New tablet mode

While Microsoft is making changes for users more familiar with older versions of Windows, it’s not forgetting about the people who actually like the new touchscreen-optimised features. For them there's a dedicated tablet mode that effectively makes the Start Menu go fullscreen and runs all apps in fullscreen as well. Hybrids, of which there are many, should switch between tablet and desktop modes automatically if set up correctly.

Related: Windows 10 Free Upgrade – Will you have to pay for it?

Mail Apps

9) Hugely improved Mail and Calendar apps

Microsoft has done lots of work to improve the Mail and Calendar apps compared to Windows 8. They're faster, easier to use and condense more information into less space without making them feel cluttered.

The mail app now has swipe gestures – a common feature of many mobile mail apps that works really well. Most importantly, Mail supports POP email and the Calendar app finally supports Google Calendar.

They're also 'responsive', which means the shape and layout of the apps will adapt to work in the size of the window it's in – it's a useful way to let the apps be open on the desktop alongside other apps and still be usable.

Jack Squires

October 1, 2014, 2:20 pm

I for one am excited. As a man who loves shortcuts, windows 8 didn't slow me down in the slightest, but I am hyped for the quad snapping.

V_Ferg

October 1, 2014, 8:28 pm

Same, I know a lot of people will probably talk a lot of smack about the new OS but I am excited for its arrival as well. Starting this year I finally gave windows 8 the chance it deserved after purchasing the surface last year and ended up replacing all my systems with windows 8.1. Its seriously an underrated system overall, the few things it screwed up shouldnt be a deterent to use it, its fast, stable, and the upgrades added under the hood from 7 to 8 are pretty extensive. Once you get past the initial setting shortcuts up to do some stuff that windows 8 took away its fine. The only real problem I had is the app store... now that needs some serious improvement. But hey at least its no Vista! I installed the preview and as of now the few things it added are cool but obviously its still just windows 8 with the 5 new features haha. Cant wait to see more.

Mangap

October 1, 2014, 10:29 pm

Microsoft, give Windows 7 user good reason to upgrade to Windows 10. Otherwise it will be slow again

Cryptic

October 2, 2014, 1:01 am

I recently installed the preview of Windows 10 (after using W8 since that preview), and I must say that this is the Windows 7 elite edition.
I really enjoy this one, and it is gonna be very smooth for Windows 7 users to jump to this, compared to Windows 8.

I was expecting a lot of bugs on the preview, but after a few hours of testing, NONE so far.

Mangap

October 2, 2014, 1:13 am

I still can not find good reason to upgrade from Windows 7.
Btw what is the expired date of the preview version?

Cryptic

October 2, 2014, 2:13 am

Unless you want better features when it comes to multitasking, I cant really come up with any reasons to upgrade from Windows 7, yet. Though some new interesting features might come.

The expiration date for the preview is 16.04.2015. Unsure if this is static, or based on installation date. I would guess the last.

Mangap

October 2, 2014, 2:19 am

Based on article I read I also did not find any reason for Windows 7 user to upgrade.
Thanks for the date info. I think it will be something near the Windows 10 release date.
I am downloading it right now.

Lucas

October 15, 2014, 1:14 pm

Versions of Windows above Windows 7 have faster boot times and shutdowns, due to a new feature in the operating system.

Mangap

October 15, 2014, 2:36 pm

Ok that is good. But still not enough reason to upgrade.
I hope it is lighter and smaller. By removing old code left

Lucas

October 15, 2014, 10:33 pm

Hmmm...I'm not sure. That's why not so many people have Windows 8.
Windows 8 does have an interesting start menu, but that's not a good reason and you might not like it.
It has an improved task manager.
On the file explorer it has tabs for doing things with files. Like in MS Office when you select a picture the pictures tab comes up to edit images...same concept with file explorer.
It's touchscreen friendly.
It has an app store.
But to be honest I don/t like how it's all flat. They should add a transparent and flat option.

BrokenEye

June 26, 2015, 7:50 pm

Can the virtual desktops be set to ONLY switch between desktop icons while leaving taskbars and windows where there are?

Can Victual Desktops, Task View, Snap, Apps and the App Store be fully uninstalled?

Can the interface be fully returned to the proper Windows 7 look, or is a transparent version of the hideously ugly Baby Blocks interface the best I can expect?

Dead Words

July 25, 2015, 2:41 am

Yes that is an option for the desktops.
You can't just uninstall the virtual desktops, Task View, Universal Applications or the Windows Store. They're core functions. You can't remove the Messaging application from a smartphone, because it's a core function. However, there's such thing as just not using it, you know.
You can disable the Snap Assist.
You don't have to use the Live Tiles, they're fully customizable and can be removed.
Transparency is an option.

BrokenEye

July 25, 2015, 3:11 am

In order:

1. Awesome, that's exactly what I need

2. There's nothing "core" about those functions. Windows Explorer is a core function. Running smartphone app on a real computer is just this generation's equivalent to Minesweeper (except Minesweeper wastes less space, can be uninstalled, and doesn't get in the way). And last time I checked, I absolutely can remove the messaging application from my smartphone (but won't, because its actually marginally useful every once and a while, which is more than can be said for running smartphone apps on a real computer). I can also install almost all the actual core functions short of Windows Explorer itself from my Windows 7 computer, even though it would be a bad idea to actually do so under most circumstances. If what you told me is true, that's a definite deal-breaker.

3. Well, it's something I guess.

4. That wasn't my question. Allow me to rephrase: Can the interface design be set to look like a proper interface designed by sane, intelligent, competent graphic designers, with depth and beveling and shadows and suchlike, as seen in Windows 7's Areo interface and similar, or am I stuck with the flat, poorly designed eyesore that is the Metro interface design? Hell, I'd even settle for a Windows 95 design scheme if it meant I didn't have to stare at an interface that looked like it was designed for (and subsequently rejected by) Fisher Price.

LeeTronix

July 25, 2015, 5:46 am

Huh? that makes no sense whatsoever...

Dead Words

July 27, 2015, 3:50 pm

You have to remember that Windows 10 is not just for traditional mouse and keyboard PC's with not thought for any other devices. This is Microsoft trying to serve both the old and new generations. This is a single OS designed to run on any device imaginable. The same experience on PC's, tablets, smartphones, game consoles, IoT devices... and I can tell you firsthand that it's amazing. I've been a Windows Insider for a long time now and I'm enjoying my time with Windows 10. No, it's not perfect. Far from it. There's still a lot of UI inconsistencies and missing features. Some decisions Microsoft made just don't make sense. But what Microsoft has done elsewhere makes up for those mistakes, and that's impressive. Even more than that, Windows 10 is a completely different new product from any other Windows before it, because it's not a single iteration to be replaced in three years. It's a service, and it'll constantly evolve and improve according to the feedback given by Insiders and users. Windows 10 was built by the Insiders like me, and build around our feedback. We didn't get nearly everything we wanted, but we all got to see the thing Microsoft did wrong in the beginning be removed, and now (two days from release) we get to help evolve it.
Microsoft has added some genuine useful features in Windows 10 like virtual desktops, Task View, and Snap Assist. If you don't want to use them, it won't hurt you not to. You can disable Snap Assist, and Task View and virtual desktops only exist behind a rather small icon on the Task Bar. No one has ever used EVERY single thing an operating system has to offer all the time. But Windows 10 isn't just catering to a single group of people.
Besides, adding an option to change, remove, or disable everything in the operating system isn't smart engineering. One of the selling points of Windows 10 is how compact it is. How efficient it is. It's the fastest Windows ever (that's a fact), and the most compact (also fact), and probably offers better security and battery life than any other Windows ever. Giving an option for absolutely everything adds coding clutter, and can ruin performance. Not only that, but it can be confusing to the average consumer. Those of us who do understand may want it, and yeah maybe eventually Microsoft will give us more control, but right now Microsoft has to focus on the average consumer.
Design. This is one of the most controversial topics about Windows 10. Is the design an improvement? In some places, I'd say most definitely. There are little touches here and there that are just a marked improvement on any other Windows. Others, I severely question the designers' decisions. There are many inconsistencies, and even more places where it's "okay," but I would've done it completely different. But it does work. And it'll get better. Microsoft can't afford to have Windows 10 fail, so what the users say...will happen. If it turns out that the vast majority of people actually want just Windows 7...again, then Microsoft will try and cater to those people.

BrokenEye

July 27, 2015, 8:04 pm

Friend, having a computer that runs like a smart phone makes about as much sense as a toaster that runs like a lawnmower. A computer and a smartphone are two very different devices, and what's useful and convenient on one will not necessarily be useful or convenient on the other. In fact, it's usually quite the opposite. Instead of trying to make OSs that are exactly the same across all devices, they should instead be trying to make the best possible OS for each device, two goals that are by their very nature mutually exclusive. How does that old saying go? "Jack of all trades, master of none"? A computer is a computer and a smartphone is a smartphone and never the twain shall meet.

I don't see how being able to uninstall useless bloatware could possibly add much more clutter than the presence of all that useless, space-wasting gimmicky bloatware itself.

Can you get rid of the "rather small icon", at least? I'd much rather fix the problem then merely sweeping it under the rug, but if hiding it is the only option, I don't want to run the risk of accidentally un-hiding it

If Microsoft can't afford to have Windows 10 fail, they better start acting like it. I've yet to see any evidence of them taking even the slightest interest in what their users want, despite keeping a close eye on the news feeds on the topic in the vain hope of finding even just a shred of good news.

Dead Words

July 27, 2015, 8:47 pm

It's not about having a PC run just like a smartphone. It's about an operating system being perfectly integrated with all other devices running that operating system. My Windows 10 Mobile would be perfectly integrated with my Windows 10 PC, so I could be writing Word Documents on my PC, send an email, then leave and edit the Word Document on my phone, receive the reply to that email, send a few text messages, then continue that conversation back on my PC all seamlessly and without hassle. Everything I need will automatically upload to my OneDrive (unless otherwise directed) and will show up on my phone when and where I wish it. I can begin a Powerpoint on my laptop and then move to my tablet, and all I have to do is switch to a more touch focused Powerpoint application (there is the normal Powerpoint, then there is the touch-focused Powerpoint) and not lose any features.
It's about being able to transform my smartphone into a PC whenever I have a monitor and my Continuum dock (which will be quite small) and be able to use a mouse and keyboard with my smartphone, running PC applications. It's about developers being able to write one app, and have it ported across billions of devices at once with a similar experience.
It's not about running the exact same operating system, because Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile are not the exact same operating system. It's about having a similar UI experience and exact same feature set across all of our devices
No matter how you look at it, touch screens are becoming dominant in our world, if they haven't already. Microsoft has to cater to those users. So they've crafter an operating system that can adapt to both traditional mouse and keyboard users and touch screen users. An operating system that at a touch of a button or even automatically can switch from tablet to desktop mode with minimum hassle. And if it's not perfect...well, neither is Windows 7.
I've been a dedicated user of Windows for a long, long time, and I've used all of them. Windows 7 was my favorite by far...until Windows 10. I still have so many issues with Windows 10, and if it were up to me I would change so much. But I can't, and I have to deal. For me, Windows 10 still offers a quicker experience than Windows 7. In many cases, it's just simply faster (and overall it's faster too), and it has genuinely useful features that aren't available in Windows 7. Either way, it's still dramatically better than Windows 8/.1.
Instead of looking for the operating system that meets all my needs and wants 100%, and whining when I can't find it, I find the operating system that meets my needs and wants the most, and then meet it the rest of the way. I've been using Windows 10 for a long time now, and I am enjoying my time with it. Again, not perfect. But that's okay with me. Until the moment that Microsoft stops listening to the Windows Insiders like me (and so far they have in fact been listening), I will continue to support Windows 10.
Now I understand your issues with Windows 10 and it's restrictive nature. But Microsoft has already said that right now, the focus is getting the core Windows 10 out to the average consumer, and that the features for the more advanced users will be present in Threshold 2. Maybe what would be best for you would be to wait for Threshold 2 in the fall, and see how that goes. But for me, Windows 10 works. Windows 7 is definitely a close second, but some things truly are amazing in Windows 10.

BrokenEye

July 28, 2015, 12:56 am

Why would anyone want that?

It's like they're living in Looking Glass Land or something. Gimmicks and bloatware like cloud apps and remote browsing are mandatory core functions, but having an OS that works properly and doesn't hurt to look at is an optional feature for advanced users. It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that! How deep does the rabbit hole go?

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 12:47 pm

It's not exactly a gimmick, since the entire world is heading in that direction. For a long time now we've become more and more dependent on an internet connection. We're so engrossed in it we pay extra just to be able to do it with our phones wherever we want. No matter how you look at it, 98% hardly do anything on their computers without an internet connection.
You can still have a local account, and you can still use Windows 10 like any other Windows before it without internet. But with internet it truly shines, as does practically every other operating system on the planet.

BrokenEye

July 28, 2015, 5:39 pm

Overused gimmicks are still gimmicks. They're just not particularly effective ones. But then, it was never a particularly effective gimmick anyway.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 5:57 pm

I think it's extremely effective. I'll never lose any of my pictures, or music, or important documents, even if my entire house burns down. It's all backed up on my OneDrive. If I forget something vitally important on my PC, I can just download it onto my phone. If something goes wrong with my microSD card, all of my music is on my OneDrive, ready to play. I use my OneDrive every single day.

BrokenEye

July 28, 2015, 6:02 pm

It must be fun being so easily amused. Still, that's no reason to sacrifice one's right to privacy.

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 6:04 pm

Oh it is. It makes life so much easier. I'm not stuck in the past, which is always nice, haha.

BrokenEye

July 28, 2015, 7:05 pm

Wanting privacy is considered being "stuck in the past" now? Good lord, what is this world coming to?

Dead Words

July 28, 2015, 8:13 pm

That's what this is about? Privacy? Riiiight. So you're paranoid. I get it.

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