Monday, January 19, 2015

Here's what to expect in the Windows 10 Consumer Preview

In a few days time, Microsoft will be showcasing the future of Windows to the world. After previewing Windows 10 last fall, it looks like Microsoft is finally going to get things right this time. The technical preview released was indeed an uncomplete OS and the features will not be limited to what Microsoft employees could think of. Instead they asked users for their feedback to request what they actually want in the next version of windows. The event will be mainly focusing on the desktop side of things but they might squeeze in some things about windows 10 for phone or whatever they end up calling it. Well here are some things which I would definitely like to see on the final version of windows 10

UI Consistency

The number 1 thing I would like to see on Windows 10 is the consistency throughout the entire operating system whether in the classic desktop or in modern apps. Well in windows 8, the UI is not only inconsistent but some things *cough* charms bar *cough* just didn't make much sense with the keyboard and mouse. Often times windows 8 based applications have weird hidden menus which are bundled deep in the charms menu. With the technical preview, the modern apps finally get their own modular window like a classing windows app but developers will still need to rework their app to maximize the compatibility.
'Horizontal scrolling make sense with a keyboard and mouse'
I don't expect Microsoft to redefine their design language again, the last time Microsoft overhauled their design language during windows 8 the crowd went wildly mad over the change. The problem there is that the gap between keyboard/mouse and touchscreen users, the UI elements which made sense with the touchscreen made no sense whatsoever with the keyboard/mouse. In windows 10 I hope that Microsoft will keep the UI consistent whether in the modern UI or in the desktop to make the experience continuous so users won't feel like they're jumping into a whole new world when they transition from the desktop program to a modern ui app (or from a touchscreen to a keyboard/mouse setup).
The Technology of Today

Start Menu

The Start Menu created a lot of buzz with Windows 8, I'm one of the people which actually like the start screen. Although I don't use it as frequent as I could but it does look nice with the live tiles which works great on a select numbers of apps but not all. The return of the start button on windows 10 was refreshing change for the majority of users especially those still on Windows 7 which just hated the start screen. Thankfully Microsoft thought of an ingenious way to combine the live tiles with the start menu, but I still think that there's something missing from the new start screen which will make it even better.

Continuity for Windows, I'm not saying that Microsoft should rip off that name from Apple but I do hope that Microsoft would bake in such a feature into windows 10 because now they have a whole range of products and connecting all of them together to the central PC would just be great for managing. This is possible because with Windows 10, they are reimagining the entire ecosystem and integrating all of the devices powered by Windows 10 shouldn't be a problem. Maybe start small, inking a connection from computer to computer and enabling them to connect in the cloud rather than using homegroup which requires the computers to be connected to the same local network.

Search / Cortana

Search is yet another place that Microsoft got it totally wrong in windows 8, although the search bar is front and center in the start menu on windows 8.1 but I doubt anyone ever uses it to do actual stuff. Think about it, the search bar should be as versatile as both the command prompt and windows explorer (it should be like google but for your computer). It is cool that the search results will list both local and online queries but how the information is shown out is crucial, get it right it will get people hooked up with the search bar. Yeah I know that Microsoft is going to bring the personal assistant cortana from windows phone to the desktop but that is just part of the search story.

To perfect it, they would need to do a little bit more so that it'll keep users glued to their seats. I've been using OneNote for the past year to compile my notes and one of the best things about it is the search bar, it could virtually search my entire OneNote for the specific word even on pictures. I'm not saying that they should make the search on Windows be able to search text from images but just to make the search a little bit more wider because it's not like everybody would want to open up windows explorer just to search something.
'Support for Google search rather than Bing search maybe?'
The Verge

The Apps

The Windows Store has been continuously growing since it opened and with Windows 10, the layout of the store will be altered from the current horizontal scrolling to a more minimalistic tabbed based UI. I was actually going to rant about the non-keyboard friendly layout but since the change is confirmed, I'll just leave it. The Windows Store UI is one thing, the apps I another, I think it's time that Microsoft start to encourage developers of classic windows apps to publish their programs to the Windows Store. This will benefit the user as it'll serve as a unified place for them to download all the programs and also solves the problem of getting malware from installing programs downloaded from the internet.
'The Mac App Store is a living example'
Finally, with Windows 10 I hope Microsoft will establish a yearly update scheme to continue adding new features with each new iteration. Yeah, they have been doing this with Windows 8 but with that they were merely just merely correcting what was literally wrong with the OS. I would also love to see some flashy new animations being implemented in Windows 10 (no just kidding, but it is a viable request?). I think that's about it for my primary requests in the Windows 10 Consumer Preview, I could've written about more features but those would most likely still stay as a dream.

Microsoft is expected to release the Consumer Preview to the general public by the end of the month and for Windows Insiders, an update will most likely go live right after the event.
Microsoft will be livestreaming the January 21 Windows 10 event on their website: to check out the stream and remember the time is 9AM PST or 1AM Malaysian time (January 22). 

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