Poking about in Windows 10

Windows 10
The Start Menu gets a facelift in Windows 10. (Image: Microsoft)

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6 March 2015 | 0

I like playing with new stuff, so I installed the latest build of Windows 10 (9926) on a Surface Pro 2 tablet.

I previously had build 9426 which was pretty early, but had already introduced such features as multiple desktops and the new Start Menu.

The big preview event in January built upon this with the introduction of features such as Continuum that allows a hybrid device to determine when to move from desktop to tablet mode and back.

The new 9926 build goes further and does away with the Charms menu that comes in with a sweep from the right hand side of the screen. Now, a notifications and settings options, not entirely unlike the Charms screen, comes in and offers a new Settings menu, which is a version of the Control Panel, but not quite as detailed — but control freaks, fear not the good old Control Panel with the tweaky bits is still there in desktop mode.

The new Settings screen. (Image: Microsoft)

The Start Menu, as mentioned previously, also features tiles and icons, which forms a kind of bridge between the Modern Interface approach and the old style desktop.

The Start Menu can be expanded to the full screen size, or reduced to take up about the left hand third of the screen. It is currently not resizable to whatever you fancy, but apparently a registry hack can sort that out, so it may be a feature in future builds.

The search option on the menu is gone now, but has been relocated to the task bar. There is a beta of the new Store app, as well as the old one and there are a few bugs too. One of which bugs is that the Netflix app does a Windows version check which when it sees the Windows 10 designation has a bit of a hissy fit. If you do a search, you’ll see how to get around that.

As a direction for development, build 9926 is a good indicator but it still has the feel of something unpolished. Certain things work well, and the switch between tablet mode and PC mode is good, but the new battery indicator on the lock screen, while useful, can pop up when it is on a desktop that has no battery.

Also, one of the flagship features, the personal assistant Cortana, only works in US territories, which is a bit of an annoyance as I’m sure, as happened with Siri, there’s fun to be had for someone with a regional accent.

From a pure business perspective, there isn’t that much we haven’t heard of previously. It is good to be able to test features such as the multiple desktops and Continuum, but even so, things can be a bit flaky. In testing of the Microsoft Wireless Display Adapter, the 9926 build detected and connected to the adapter just fine, but playback was stuttery at best.

While there have been numerous bloggers who have described using the build on their main machine, build 9926 seems to have good core stability, but with some of the other features still a wee bit ropey, it might be best to have a test machine if you want to get into it for now. It is well worth a poke about if you have the means to play with it.

 

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