Microsoft has unveiled Windows 10. The launch event in San Francisco was mostly what we expected: Microsoft wants to make Windows 10 a killer OS for all of those disaffected mouse-and-keyboard users — both normal Desktop users like you and I, and also the big enterprise customers who were rather displeased with Windows 8’s Metro interface.
Windows 10 for desktop and laptop users
After the very poor response to Windows 8, and the bitter taste it left in the mouths of millions of users, Windows 10 is a very important release for Microsoft. On the one hand, it needs to rectify Windows 8’s wrongs and offer normal PC users a reason to upgrade from Windows XP or 7. On the other hand, Microsoft continues to lose ground in the mobile sector as well. Windows 10 will actually have to be the jack of all trades, rather than Windows 8’s rather ignominious status as the master of none. How will Microsoft do this? Well, let’s take a look.
The Start menu returns
After a few years of claiming that the Metro-style Start screen was just as good for mouse-and-keyboard use as touchscreen use, Microsoft has finally backed down. Windows 10 will have a Start menu on the Desktop; the left side will look a lot like the standard Windows 7 Start menu, but the right side will have the option of being populated with Metro-style live tiles. The left side of the menu will adopt a new Metro-like look, too — though you may be able to configure it to look like the good ol’ Windows 7 Start menu.
In Windows 10, you will have the option of using virtual desktops. Right now you just have one desktop per monitor — but with virtual desktops, you can switch between as many desktops as you like. This is a popular power user feature that has been present on some Linux window managers and via third-party Windows tools for years — but now it’ll be native in Windows 10.
Metro apps on the Desktop
Rather than forcing you into the full-screen Metro interface, Windows 10 will let you run Metro apps on the Desktop in a window. In theory this will mean that mouse-and-keyboard users might now actually use Metro apps, which in turn might kickstart the arrival of some better apps in the Windows Store. Or not.
Windows 10 Task View
A new Task View button. Windows 10 has a new button that pops up the Task View interface. It’s meant to improve the multitasking experience for novice users. It basically looks like an improved version of the “stacked cards” view from Windows Vista and 7, which you see if you hit Windows-Tab.
Windows 10 Task View and improved snapping
Improved snapping. The Snap function is also being improved, so that windows can be easily tiled horizontally and vertically. It seems this also ties into the Task View interface, too.
Lots of other tweaks to the Windows 10 Desktop. In addition to all of the above, the Charms bar is also being removed (from the Desktop interface at least; it might hang around on touchscreen devices).