Microsoft released a technical preview of Windows 10 yesterday. The preview gives a hands-on look at the next version of the Windows operating system, which will release sometime in 2015. We downloaded the preview and gave it a spin on one of our computers here at the SCDL. Here’s an early look at what’s coming soon to a computer near you.
Return of the Start Menu
After a brief hiatus during which it was absent from Windows 8/8.1, the Start Menu has made a comeback in Windows 10. The new Start Menu blends a bit of the old and the new.
In addition to a traditional menu containing the programs installed on your PC, live tiles are now present in the right-hand pane. These live tiles are links to apps that first appeared in Windows 8, and can be customized to your liking.
The return of the Start Menu will be a welcome change for users who were used to Windows XP/Vista/7, and may make Windows 10 a bit easier to transition to than Windows 8 was.
Say Goodbye to the Start Screen
If you’re on a PC that uses a keyboard and mouse, the Start Screen will no longer appear by default when you boot up your computer. Characterized by its grid of tiles and live apps, the Start Screen made its debut in Windows 8. It was part of the Modern/“Metro” user interface, which was designed to provide a consistent user interface for both tablets and PCs.
Many traditional desktop/laptop users found the interface to be ill-suited for use with a mouse and keyboard, and Microsoft has listened to those complaints. You can always re-enable the old Start Screen if you’d like, but most users will probably find the reworked Start Menu easier to use.
Modern apps that previously appeared in the Start Screen now open in traditional windows, matching the behavior of normal Windows applications. These apps can be resized and moved, meaning you can have many of them open and displayed on screen at the same time. Previously, these apps typically ran in full-screen mode.
Modern apps are located in the Start Menu with the rest of your programs/applications.
Windows 10 also brings a feature that has long been present on Mac OS X and other operating systems: virtual desktops. Virtual desktops are basically separate workspaces which allow you organize your open applications. This is especially useful if you’re working on a project and have a lot of programs open.
By clicking the Task View button on the taskbar, you can switch between open applications and move to a new virtual desktop. Whenever you click on an application that is already open in another desktop, you’ll automatically be switched to that workspace.
Try out Windows 10 for yourself
If you have a computer lying around and want to give Windows 10 a try, you can download the Technical Preview version here. Be careful, though—you’ll want to back up your existing documents and other data before installing Windows 10, and you can’t revert back to your original version of Windows without doing a clean install.
For those of you who'd rather wait for the finished product, Windows 10 will be released sometime in 2015. If you’re planning on buying a computer during that time, get ready—Windows 10 will likely come pre-installed on it.