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The Windows 10 Tech Preview on a Surface Pro 3 (Video)

By Adam Z. Lein October 6, 2014, 11:45 am

Microsoft recently released a technology preview of their new Windows operating system that’s meant to unify desktop PCs, tablets, phones, and even large screen televisions. In this video we’re going to take a look at some of the changes as well as the advantages and disadvantages in the Windows 10 Technology Preview. Be sure to remember that this is an early version of the operating system update so many things are sure to change as development continues.

There’s nothing special about installing the Windows 10 Tech Preview. You simply run the setup program, and it does it all. You should definitely create a recovery disk though since a reset from within the OS probably won’t get you back to Windows 8.

On the Surface Pro 3, we’re logged right into the desktop environment with the new start menu.  Now at least in this preview, the interface difference between Windows 8 and Windows 10 is drastic. It’s intended to be less of a drastic difference between Windows 7 and Windows 8 though, so that people who have been using the old start menu since 1995 will have an easier time learning the new UI. Of course there are advantages and disadvantages to this backpedaling of the Windows interface.

Firstly, the big advantage is that people who missed the start menu finally have it back. It’s got two columns and recent programs list their recent documents again, but the second column can now be used for live tiles, and it’s resizable with a click and drag of the top edge! That brings us to the second big advantage; universal apps. While in Windows 8, the new style of touch friendly apps  would only run in full screen modes or horizontally snapped sections, in Windows 10 they run as normal windows that can be layered over any other type of application in the same manner as all Windows programs have for over 20 years. Sure, it’s not a new or innovative, but it works and all graphical user interfaces for computers have followed the same design.

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Another new advantage is the task view. In Windows 8, the whole desktop environment was kind of treated as its own app. The task view for modern/metro/universal apps was accessed via a swipe from the left edge, or a mouse moved to the upper left corner. In Windows 10, the new task view can also be accessed from the left edge via touch, but it is no longer available from a upper left corner mouse gesture. That’s unfortunate since switching apps used to take one click. Hopefully the final version of Windows 10 will take better advantage of the four corners for mouse-interaction.

The normal application windows work well though. They’re far more flexible than the multitasking snapping in Windows 8.1. No longer do apps launch as a big colored box that bounces and tilts on top of a window border until you choose which window pane it should launch in. Now apps launch right away as they should.

When you do snap programs to different parts of the screen, the task view automatically shows up in the empty section making it very easy for you to choose a different program to run next to the one you just snapped.  Very nicely done.

There are some disadvantages in this Windows 10 preview though, but certainly we can expect things to change as development continues.

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Firstly, the touch and pen interface suffers greatly in this version. It’s about as difficult to use as when Windows XP was on tablets 12 years ago. There are no handle bars for resizing windows and the edges are very difficult to grab with the pen. Many of the edge gestures are gone too. You can’t close apps by swiping down from the top edge to the bottom, and you can’t access menus from top & bottom edge swipes either. There’s a tiny little dot dot dot button in the application title bars that shows a menu with options, but it’s certainly not touch friendly. You can use that menu to switch universal apps to full-screen mode as if they were running on Windows 8, but it’s difficult to get back to that menu after that. The left edge swipe no longer quickly flips between open apps, but at least the charms are still behind the right edge swipe. Of course the new old UI doesn’t work well with 3D motion control devices either.

If you want to you, you can bring the Start screen back. Most Windows 8 users will already understand the advantages of the full start screen, and most of those are still there.

While this early preview is very fast and stable with all of the features that are there, if you’re a Windows 8 tablet user, you’re going to miss a lot of the touch-friendly usability features. Those enhancements are yet to be implemented, so you’ll want to wait for those. If you’re a desktop user with a mouse and keyboard, you’re probably going to love this Windows 10 preview.

Have you installed the Windows 10 Tech Preview? How do you like it so far?

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