Windows 10 New Features
What are the cool new features?If you are lucky enough to have everything working straight out of the box, you may be wondering about Windows 10's new features. For a moment, let’s forget about the start menu, as it’s been covered enough as it is (to be brief, it’s a hybrid of the classic menu of Windows 7, with the tiles of 8, and in general, is rather good and fully customizable). There are many other notable features to discuss, however.
First of all, Microsoft’s Cortana has been rolled out to the desktop, providing a digital assistant at a moment’s notice. Ask it to take notes, set reminders, do searches, it even has some basic natural language support, allowing you to ask for the weather in a specific area, tell you answers to simple arithmetic, and even tell you jokes on command. It’s Siri for Windows… mostly. Anything it doesn’t understand will result in a Bing search instead.
While Cortana is nice, it does require you to sign up with a Microsoft account and provide it with access to a whole mass of data, such as your location, speech and typing patterns, browser history, and on and on. It’s something I was not entirely comfortable providing, even if it was just for curiosity. It’s speech recognition is still under development too, as it was unable to understand various names and locations. However, it’s remarkably good at launching applications. Using it can be a little awkward though since you have to say ‘Hey Cortana’ every time you want it to do something; although, you can use it with just text input if you wish.
Virtual desktops are a big thing too. While they are not new in the software industry, it’s the first time they’ve been included with a Windows operating system. For those unsure as to what they are, they provide a means of setting up desktop environments for focused tasks. For example, you could keep all your social messengers, mail and web browsing on one desktop, with Office or Creative Suite in another. It can cut down on distractions while also keeping the desktop and taskbar clean and organized. It’s a poor-man’s multi-monitor effectively.
Much like mobile devices, there is now a dedicated notification area as well. This acts as a hub for system and application notifications. Instant messages, tweets, Wi-Fi access points, regional settings, it can all be accessed from a glance.
While not a critical feature for many, there is one thing that will make the lives of so many people much easier… the command prompt now support CTRL-V (that's the paste feature)… after 20 years, we can finally paste into the prompt with a keyboard shortcut! It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye - in sadness. Twenty years Microsoft, I have no words.
Is it worth the upgrade?That depends. For the most part, Windows 10 is great, but it is still a brand new OS and there will inevitably be some growing pains for some users. However, as far as the upgrade process goes, it’s one of Microsoft’s best. There are still issues to contend with, and a lot of these will be dependent on third-party fixes, as well as Microsoft.
The automated upgrade process via Windows Update can be a little rocky, and I’d advise against using it for the time being. If you still want to upgrade, but with less hassle, go with the media creation tool, create a bootable USB drive, and launch the upgrade from that. For a fresh install… well, that’s another matter entirely, and not something I have tried just yet.
The early adopters among you will likely be jumping at the opportunity to install Windows 10, but for everyone else, it’s probably best to hold out a while. The growing pains associated with a new OS release will take a while to shake out. It will likely take at least another month for the big hardware manufacturers to get their drivers sorted, longer for the smaller companies. Whatever you decide though, always make a backup first. Speaking of which, what about a fresh install in the event of a hard drive failure?