Microsoft’s Windows 8 Operating system was fresh, fast and different. It ushered in a new PC category known as hybrids, half tablet/half laptop. However, its being ‘different’ has also earned it the distinction of being the most hated Windows version since Windows Vista and Windows Me. Foremost of its problems was the removal of the Start Menu that Windows users have become very familiar with since Windows 95 and replacing it with rows of colorful tiles that occupy the whole screen. Second is the new type of full-screen apps formerly named ‘Metro’ which again occupy the whole screen setting aside multi-windowed multi-tasking users are familiar with. Third, is the various interface changes that make Windows 8 a radical departure from the familiar Windows 7 and Windows XP.
Though Windows 8 is not without its merits. Under the hood, it’s much faster. More secure and not resource intensive. It can run smoothly on systems where Windows 7 crawls. For touch-based systems for which it was obviously designed for, it’s a joy to use. Unfortunately, not everyone is a fan of touch screens, the same way people back in the day had an aversion to plastic rodents with wheels. Microsoft and the PC industry suffered a terrible backlash due to Windows 8. Even PC vendors openly offer downgrades to their customers for computers pre-loaded with Windows 8. Adoption was slow and divided between people who actually like Windows 8 and those who can’t be bothered to downgrade. Windows 8 haters either downgrade, stay with older versions like Windows 7 or the ancient Windows XP, or shift to other platforms like Linux, Chrome OS and Macs.
But Windows 10, not Windows 9 is right around the corner, promising great things to entice Windows users, old and new, the disgruntled and the enthusiasts. Microsoft listened to its users, made compromises as well as added new things to earn their operating system its current number. Microsoft is not about to abandon its visions for Windows 8 though. Windows 10 offers the best of both worlds for users of Windows 8 and older versions.
Below are eight features in Windows 10 which even Windows 8 haters will like.
- The Return of the Start Menu – though not exactly a feature and more of a comeback, the return of the Start Menu should be enough to bring back the throngs of Windows users who left Windows 8 for Linux, Macs and Chromebooks and finally be adopted by people who continue to hang on to their Windows 7 and Windows XP. Though a fresh take on launching programs, the problem with the Start Screen was that when users press the Windows button on their keyboards, they’re unceremoniously taken away from the desktop and shown the full Start Screen leaving them confused and sometimes scared that whatever they’re working on would be lost. The new Start Menu brings the best of both worlds to old and new users alike by having a traditional Start Men style at the left and several Windows 8 tiles to the right. Windows 8 haters can unpin the tiles totally while Windows 8 enthusiasts can resize the Start Menu full screen.
- Continuum – is Microsoft’s term for Windows hardware-based adoption. As Dr. Seuss might say, a tablet is a tablet is a tablet. Windows can change its mode of operation to desktop or tablet mode depending on whether a keyboard is detected. One big problem with Windows 8 was its schizophrenic nature when used as a desktop operating system. When Windows 8 boots, it opens to the Start Screen and not the desktop confusing new users and forcing them to figure out how to get to the desktop despite having a desktop tile.
- Cortana Integration – Windows Phone’s own personal assistant just like Apple’s Siri is now on Windows 10. Users can now ask about the weather or any other information on their Windows laptops, tablets and even workstations. Cortana currently works on the latest Windows 10 Technical Preview version but she still has a long way to go. Microsoft promises that Cortana can learn from user habits and ensure smooth usage as possible, meaning users can actually use Cortana as a personal assistant during work.
- Spartan – is an all-new browser program from Microsoft. It’s separate from Internet Explorer and built from scratch. Internet Explorer will still be around to ensure backwards compatibility with web-enabled Enterprise apps. But Spartan is touted as the browser for the consumer. Faster and simplified, casual users will no longer have to put up with the much-maligned, slow and bloated Internet Explorer. Spartan is designed to handle the ‘modern web’.
- Native Multimedia Codecs Support and XBOX App – before, when loading various long-established multimedia audio and video files like OGG and MKV, one has to search for the appropriate codes or install programs such as VLC and Media Player Classic. Windows 10 now supports these file types and more. Windows 10 also brings back native DVD playback which was removed from Windows 8.
- Improved/Integrated Settings – Unfortunately for Windows 8 and its Metro Apps, settings seemed to be all over the place. Users were confused as to where to go to personalize or set their computers. There’s the PC settings icon accessible when mousing to the far right and there’s the Charms bar when mousing down. Control Panel is practically hidden until one goes way down the selections in PC Settings. Windows 8.1 solved the Control Panel problem when the user right-clicks on the faux Start button but the move remained awkward. Individual settings for apps had to be done via the PC settings and not in the apps themselves (novel but misunderstood). Metro App settings are now be located on the apps themselves. All Settings or the new Control Panel can now be found at the integrated Notification Center when users click on the notification icon at the system tray.
- Mobile Integration – Microsoft promised seamless integration of its Windows platform through various devices whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet and mobile phone. Applicable settings are synced on all Windows devices. Users can share the same OneDrive repository on all their devices.
- Windows Holography – Microsoft saved the best for last. It came as a complete surprise to everyone who attended the last Windows 10 Conference and later surprised the world. No one knew Microsoft would be entering the Augmented Reality realm of Google Glass, Magic Leap and Oculus Rift. Their approach however was giving practicality to the wearable computer/visual headset. Microsoft introduced the Holo Lens which surprised and enthused normally passive journalists that attend their conferences. Holo Lens had the potential as a holographic 3D tool for CAD designs; a collaborative exploration tool where people can be taken to remote sites like on planet Mars; a collaborative technical support tool where specialists can instruct their clients by virtually pointing out and conveying what needs to be done; and lastly as a potential game-changing game console when they demoed a version of 3D Minecraft.
Windows 10, has many Windows fans and other users somewhat excited, the same way Windows 7 got people excited in the wake of Windows Vista. Windows 10’s interconnected philosophy might just put Microsoft back on track and win back those lost souls disenfranchised by Windows 8.