Windows 10 Hands-On: What You Need To Know

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UI, Command Prompt, and Multi-Desktop View

The UI changes to Windows are currently fairly minimal. We have new drop shadows (previously shown), a few flat icons in Metro styling, such as the new File Explorer icon, and a supercharged version of the Command Prompt that, if we're being honest, adds functions Microsoft really should've incorporated back when Windows Vista was the hot new thing.

The new Command Prompt window allows you to Copy-Paste with Ctrl-C / Ctrl-V and can be turned translucent in case you're trying to copy commands while typing in the window at the same time.

As for UI elements, certain icons, like the File Explorer icon or the Desktop icon above, have subtly different color schemes and layouts. Clicking on File Explorer (My Computer appears to have been retired) takes you "Home" as opposed to "My PC." These are minor updates -- point changes, really, and nothing that dramatically shifts the scope of the operating system.

There's not much to say about these changes for now, because they're just hints at what may come down the road. The icons are fine for what they are, but the flat style may further confuse users over which version actually corresponds to the Desktop vs. Metro version of a program. We're staying out of app-specific comparisons for now, because it makes sense to give Microsoft until at least a Consumer Preview to hammer its work into shape. Users now have the option to tile up to four Metro applications per display, with the Desktop as one of these applications, but current Metro apps still tend to be data-light and rescale poorly. Again, it's a work in progress.

Multiple Desktops

The last major feature we want to discuss is Windows 10 support for multiple desktops. This is a feature that other operating systems have offered for quite some time, but it's great to finally see it deploying on the Microsoft side of the equation. As the name implies, multiple desktop switching allows you to maintain separate desktop environments and switch between them at will.

The Alt-Tab functionality has been modified slightly to allow for this -- tapping Alt-Tab still functions normally, but holding down the keys opens the desktop manager. Tap on a different desktop (or a new one) and voila -- it opens. It's not clear yet how this will interact with all 3D applications or legacy apps, but it seems to work perfectly with Microsoft's own software and the handful of test programs we installed.

This is a feature we're glad to see Microsoft integrating -- it's been on our wish list for quite some time, and it should make it easier to set up different desktops with different tabs or software running to ensure less distracting environments.

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