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Later on this month the next significant upgrade to the Windows operating system will be released called Windows 10. Windows 10, over the past year since its announcement, has been showing off more and more features that show Microsoft is taking what has worked, learned from what hasn’t worked and is planning for the future with all kinds of great features. In this post I’m going to be talking about more of the regular user side of Windows 10 and only touch on more technical stuff a little bit.

Start and Metro

The Start menu is back and better than ever as well as windowed apps.

First and foremost a lot of the features that made their debut in Windows 8 will be getting dialed back a bit to fit closer to the Windows 7 style of operation, while also keeping some features of Windows 8. The best example of this is that the start menu has returned and comes with an upgraded look. The new start menu can have basic locations like settings and file explorer, applications that you use the most and then your  live tiles present showing you up to date information on news, calendar and mail without actually having to open the apps themselves. Windows 7 users will also be happy to hear that while Windows 8 style apps are present, they don’t have to be full screen like they were in the past, so they can be windows on your desktop just as much as any other application you have.

Some new features are being added to the user interface so that you might have a better time navigating your machine. These changes include an action center where notifications from all of your apps appear, a search bar that is ever present on your task bar (that can be shortened in case you want more space), and the feature to have virtual desktops.

The action center is the new icon in the lower right of the screen next to your language controls and will give you a list of notifications from apps such as your calendar, Twitter or even system messages. There are also settings there to enable and disable features like Bluetooth, wi-fi, and location settings, as well as a quick link to the settings app.

To the right of the search bar is the Task View, which allows you to not only view all applications that are currently open but allows you to create virtual desktops. If you wanted to work on one desktop and play on another, then you can toggle between the two with a couple of simple button presses.

Photos and Microsoft Edge

See all of your photos from the cloud or local in one place and be able to annotate webpages for later, or just if you want to doodle…

Some new applications that will be coming to Windows 10 are the new default photo applications, Microsoft Edge, the new Xbox App and Cortana. Photos will keep its name but will give users the ability to look through all of the photos on their computer or one drive as a mass collection or in albums where, at full release, the computer will be able to group together related photos in your pictures folder to make viewing easier. This app also lets you do things like edit your pictures and share them with other devices.

Microsoft Edge is the name of the new browser that will be installed on all Windows 10 machines. Microsoft Edge has been designed as a lightweight browser with plenty of integration into some of Microsoft’s other services such as Cortana and OneDrive, as well as give users the ability to annotate webpages and save PDF’s in an easy to reach reading list. A focus is also put not on the UI of the browser, but instead focusing on what the contents of the webpage are.

Cortana and Xbox App

Have Cortana keep you up to date on the news that is important to you, even while playing the latest releases for the Xbox One.

Cortana, the digital assistant who first appeared on Windows Phone 8, is also making this leap from mobile, giving people all the use of a digital assistant on their desktop or laptop computer. Cortana can be used not just as a way to search your computer and the web but also as a way to highlight your interests for news updates, schedule reminders, look for a nice place for a meal or even get weather and flight updates. To make all of this process even easier you can also talk to Cortana using a microphone and activate her using the simple phrase “Hey Cortana.”

Finally for Xbox fans the Xbox app might be something that you’re looking forward to giving you all of the usage that you might be getting out of the smart glass app on your mobile device but adding more features. The ability to launch your games that you have installed on your computer or that you have purchased on the Windows Store is going to be a part of the app, as well as the ability to stream your Xbox One screen to your Windows 10 device, provided you’re on the same wireless internet. If you’re playing any game, through the Xbox app or not, you’re also able to bring up the Game Bar that will allow you to take screenshots or instantly record the last 30 seconds of game play for those times where you always wish you had been recording.

That covers most of the big new features that are being added with Windows 10, but if there are other features that you have questions about then leave a comment below, and if I get enough, then we can help give you a more in-depth look at some of them too. One feature that we are a bit worried about is the Wi-Fi Sense, that has admittedly been available on Windows Phone since version 8, but we will explain more about that as well as what you should do about it in another article.

Are you excited for Windows 10? Are you going to upgrade or wait a while?

Andrew Stretch

Events Coordinator

I have been playing all kinds of games for as long as I can remember with a particular interest in action adventure and platforming titles. While I am primarily an Xbox gamer I also spend a fair bit of time on the PS4 and on my PC in VR.