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Windows 10 hands-on: Microsoft got it right this time

Windows makes sense again

We've just spent a few minutes with a build of Windows 10 on a few different computers, including a Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It's snappy and fast in a way that some doubters don't believe Windows can be — but more importantly, everything feels faster because there are just fewer concepts to juggle in your head when you are navigating around.

Microsoft has essentially made the distinction between desktop apps and "Modern" apps (or whatever we're calling them these days) invisible to the end user. You can switch between them seamlessly and manage them either snapped to half or full screen or windowed. Basically, everything is just a window, and it's great.

Everything is just a window, and it's great

That "everything is just a window" philosophy has other effects — notably in a feature called "Continuum." When you disconnect a keyboard (or flip a convertible device into tablet mode), Windows prompts you to switch to tablet mode, where you are able to fat-finger windows instead of using precise mouse movements. The exact way it will work will vary from OEM to OEM, in some cases you will still have a persistent task bar in tablet mode, but on some smaller tablets you won't. It's also up to the OEMs whether or not the switch is automatic or whether you need to get to it from a prompt.

It's not all good, consistent news when it comes to understanding how Windows 10 handles windows. The old "Alt-Tab" interface is still here for switching apps, but Microsoft reps insist that nobody knows about that and so there's a Win-Tab interface as well, which gives you a different window preview and the option to add more virtual desktops. It's a more touch-friendly interface — and the same thing that pops up when you swipe in from the left of the screen or if you tap on a multitasking button on the status bar. It's the one spot where we wish Microsoft had tried harder to make things simpler.

Cortana on Windows 10 in photos

Then there's Cortana, which is still not fully complete on the build that we say but nevertheless worked quickly to launch apps and search the computer. Microsoft really wants you to use it (her?), dedicating a big spot on the status bar for a button or a text entry field (depending on the mode you're in). We were only able to get Cortana's voice search to work haltingly, about one out of every five tries. It's still very clearly a prototype build, so we're going to have to wait for a later release to determine how well it works. That will happen soon, as Microsoft will roll out testing over the next few months.

We'll keep filling out this post with more impressions and a hands-on video very soon!


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