Windows 10 Technical Preview – The Return of the Start Button, and Cortana

windows 10A few days ago, Microsoft released the Windows 10 technical preview build. The most notable features include Cortana, a tablet like interface, changes to the notification center and a few tweaks on the start menu. Since it is still a preview program, bugs are expected. In my opinion, however, Microsoft as outdone itself and delivered something that turns the dull desktop PC into an adrenaline charged productivity tool.

 For those willing to dare the potential frustration, you can find the ISO files here. Alternatively, if you are enrolled in the preview program, you can do a simple update from the Settings application.

Unlike the mess Windows 8 came to be, Windows 10 is a clear distinction. Windows 10 sensible OS is not only snappy but lives to the very definition of Windows. Everything appears in a Window, and this is what we are used to, what I like.

At a Glance

Windows 8 wasn’t a darling to many courtesy of its Metro look. To sooth the outcry, Windows have opted to work with a Tablet mode and a PC mode. This means that tablet users will have their experience while people who want their computers to feel like computers will have a persistent task bar and start button.

charm bar notificationThe charm bar, (the bar that pops up when you hover to the right of your Windows 8.*) has expanded and become more useful. It now looks more like a smartphone notification bar with a set of functionality you can select from a notably limited list. Rather than a mere list of notifications, it offers an active interface of responding messages and editing

Normally, the alt+tab combination will list the applications you are running. Swiping or moving your mouse to your extreme left (just like you would do for the charm bar) will also do the trick in Windows 10.

Cortana

In my opinion, this is the most interesting aspect of Windows 10. This voice-driven assistant makes the computer quite interesting. There is a consistent Cortana bar at the tast bar which reveals a search box, a Cortana circle that opens a pane full of useful relevant information and finally a microphone that lets you talk to Cortana.

hey cortanaCortana is quite responsive provided you talk to her nicely (that means you start your conversation with a greeting, “Hey Cortana”). She was quite responsive even on my standard laptop microphone and a bunch of highly excited folks making some good natured noise in the background.

Cortana will help you find apps you can install on your PC, what you already have installed and a myriad of web results. This is a replacement of the “Windows+s” shortcut in Windows 8. If you tell Cortana to “show me my music from yesterday,” she will open a new Window with a list of music folders added yesterday. The only annoying thing is this window will close if you attempt to do anything else.

The preview copy I laid hands on did not have the new web browser, Project Spartan. Rumour has it that Cortana will work hand in hand with the browser to make your searches simpler. Something impressive is that Cortana integrates everything in your PC to create a virtual assistant who never forgets. For instance, she will combine your reminders with your searches to make results more custom tailored.

A More Appealing Photo Viewer

The photo viewer is more powerful and interesting. It looks like the Windows phone app rather than what was in windows 8. The current release will only let you group images by day with the power of tagging images coming in later builds.

Project Spartan

Microsoft finally made a decision to ditch the buggy and boring Internet Explorer in favour of something more interesting and appealing. Though it should be in the final release of Windows 10, it wasn’t in this review copy.

However, Microsoft seeks to offer a completely new and more compatible rendering engine, annotation functionalities that let you highlight what you are reading and convert it into OneDrive notes or share it with collaborators among many other features.

Cortana will once again play a central role here as your relentless personal assistant. For instance, a visit to an online boutique will have Cortana pop directions to the relevant physical shop or remind you that you could use the shop to purchase a gift for your daughter’s birthday, which is due in two day’s time!

Final Verdict

I think I love Cortana. It is the best part of Windows 10. What do you think Windows should add before releasing the final consumer copy of Windows 10? Make your views known.

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