Windows 10 Hands-On: What You Need To Know
Conclusion: A Number Of Positive Steps
Taken for what it is, we really like the Technical Preview of Windows 10. It feels like the smartest, most thoughtful, and innovative pieces of Windows 8 merged back into what made sense for desktop users on Windows 7. Other features, like an auto-switching mode that detects if a keyboard is plugged into a tablet, will make the shift between Desktop and Metro more fluid. Some elements like the drop shadows and flat icons are a mixed bag right now, but tweaking these kind of minor details is the kind of thing Microsoft can do between now and next year's release.
The Windows Store is of greater concern. The fact is, Microsoft talks a big game when it comes to cross-product integration but its execution in this department hasn't been very good. While the store's presentation has improved markedly since Windows 8.0 launched, its curation and selection are only modestly better. For all Microsoft's impressive technical work on backend unification at the OS level, front-end integration at the store level is just as important, and if the company's failures here are frustrating it's because Microsoft is uniquely positioned to offer a unified cross-platform experience.
Neither Google nor Apple have anything to compare against the Xbox or Microsoft's entrenched PC market. App curation and discoverability on both iOS and Google Play aren't particularly great. Microsoft could make its store something really exciting and useful, BUT only if it cracks down, cleans things up, and puts a conscious effort into building an environment that enforces strict quality controls, ensures good experiences across all Windows devices on both ARM and x86, and integrates features that appeal to enthusiasts. The ability to stream Xbox games to a Surface device, for example, would be a great way to build a more unified Microsoft brand experience, but nearly fourteen years after the launch of the first Xbox, the two ecosystems still live in mostly different worlds.
Still a ways to go
Calling this version of Windows 10 a Tech Preview is apt -- it caters to the company's enthusiasts, and it's oriented to show off how Redmond is moving on past Windows 8. In those regards, all the news is positive. If Microsoft wants to shake the perception that it's effectively locked out of the "new" market for compute devices, however, Windows 10 needs to do more than marry the best parts of Windows 7 and Windows 8. A better Store, in our opinion, is integral to that process.