Saturday, January 24, 2015

Here's some facts about Windows 10 you need to know

Last year, Microsoft released a Technical Preview for Windows 10 which allowed users to try the unfinished build(s) and earlier this week the story continues. The 2 hour long keynote focused on several services powered by Windows 10 and frankly speaking there was a lot of information being pushed out during the 2 hour long keynote. It took me some time to digest all of it. During the keynote, Microsoft showed off some new things like Windows 10 for phones, XBOX streaming for PCs and the unexpected HoloLens which intros holgrams to the world.

In this article i am not going to focus too much on what Microsoft showed off, rather i am going to brief you on some of the facts about windows 10 that you need to know. These facts will not only be for windows 10 for the desktop, the OS as a whole is considered.

Fact #1: Windows 10 is a free* upgrade to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users 

Yes you read it correctly, Microsoft will be offering Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users a free upgrade to Windows 10. But the catch here is that users will need to take advantage of this offer in the first year Windows 10 is released. After that initial year, Microsoft will sell Windows 10 as it is again. Well this doesn't mean that Windows 10 will be completely free for all during the first year, it's just the upgrade from either Windows 7 or 8.1. 

There's not much details yet on how this works or whether users of the non-pro version of Windows 8.1 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Pro (or maybe there's no Windows 10 Pro at all). 

Fact #2: Horizontal scrolling is dead on Windows 10 

Last week i did an article about what i was expecting to see in Windows 10 and one of them is that i would like to see Microsoft do away with horizontal scrolling. If you have used Windows 8/8.1 before on a keyboard and mouse, you'll come to realize that the start menu and majority of Windows Store apps are laid out horizontally. And if you're using a mouse with a scroll wheel chances are you are not able to scroll horizontally with it and you are forced to use the scroll bar on the bottom. 

I am happy to say that with the latest Windows 10 build, Microsoft has listened and horizontal scrolling as we know it on Windows 8 is gone on Windows 10 (i think so?). The new universal apps like the Photos app and Windows Store app has been redesigned and if you look closely, they now feature vertical scrolling rather than horizontal scrolling on their current versions. 

Fact #3: Action Center is now on the desktop

The earlier builds of Windows 10 had the charms bar still integrated into the OS but with the latest build (Build 9926), the charms bar is no longer hiding in the corner of your screen.With that out of the way, Microsoft has improved the notification center and introduced Action center to Windows 10. Being placed on the same place where the charms bar used to be, Action Center on the desktop is identical to the one on Windows Phone. In addition to showing notifications from the applications, it also features quick toggles (eg. wifi, bluetooth, etc). 

Fact #4: Windows Phone is dead

No no, Windows Phone is not dead but the name sure is because Microsoft has explained that with Windows 10 the naming scheme will be Windows 10 for ... So in the future Windows Phone will be referred as Windows 10 for phones. How will users react to this? Only time will tell but i'm sure that people will still refer it as Windows Phone rather than Windows 10 for phones. 

Fact #5: Lumia camera will be coming to all Windows 10 devices

Microsoft has since took control of Nokia's Mobile division which also includes their photography division. With that in mind, the company has said that Lumia camera will be coming to all Windows 10 devices. For what it means, the Lumia camera will be the stock camera app on Windows 10 and will replace the Windows Phone camera. I'm not sure if this also means that Windows 10 tablets and PCs which feature cameras will also have Lumia camera, but it is quite plausible given that Microsoft is highly promoting Universal applications on Windows 10.

Fact #6: Universal apps will work on all Windows 10 hardware

Universal apps is something that Microsoft introduced when they first unveiled Windows Phone 8.1 and since then 'some' developers have taken advantage of this feature to increase app revenue and also to save time in writing code for two separate apps. As i mention earlier, Lumia camera has the potential of being a universal app but putting that aside, Microsoft during the keynote has shown off a couple Universal apps during the keynote.
Windows Dev Center
For the past year, Microsoft has been promoting Universal applications to developers but this is the first time they are making the system app as a Universal application. Some of the app which they showcased were the Photos app, the Settings app and also the touch optimized version of Office will be a Universal app. This is probably just the start, expect most of the core Windows 10 apps to be universal. 

Fact #7: OneDrive is now a music streaming service

In a previous build, Microsoft made users furious when they removed support for smart folders on OneDrive in Windows 10. Well that hasn't changed much in the most recent build but music streaming is another exciting new feature coming to OneDrive. This feature is also coming to both Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1, but it's worth the mention because you music files and playlists stored on OneDrive can now be streamed directly from the Music app on Windows 10.

Fact #8: Cortana is now on the Desktop

Hey hey, Cortana has finally made its way to the desktop and she can be found in the latest Windows 10 preview build (Build 9926). Similar to Cortana on Windows Phone, Cortana on the desktop will be able to reply your questions with answers that she gets from Bing. She is not only your personal assistant but she also acts as the unified search bar on Windows 10. If you're wondering, yes besides talking to her, you can also type out your query like on Windows Phone.

Besides that, Microsoft has also taught her some PC centric queries like 'search for a file' or 'find documents ...'. Also she will be able to respond to the keyword 'Hey Cortana' just like on Windows Phone but in the PC no specific hardware requirements are required unlike on Windows Phone.

Fact #9: Project Spartan is a new modern browser for Windows 10

The first thing i think about when i hear Project Spartan is the Sparta meme, but that isn't what Microsoft's Project Spartan is all about. Project Spartan is a new browser for all Windows 10 devices (including phones), the browser features a simple layout similar to Chrome and will be equipped with the latest web technologies. Not to be mistaken, the Project Spartan browser will not be replacing Internet Explorer in Windows 10, rather both of them will coexist in Windows 10. Another thing is that Project Spartan is just a codename and the final name has yet to be revealed.
IEBlog
The new browser is not available on the current preview build but Microsoft says that upcoming builds of Windows 10 for the PC and phone will both feature this new Spartan browser.

Fact #10: XBOX PC streaming will be available to all windows 10 PCs

Microsoft is continuing the unifying concept with Windows 10, in the future you'll be able to stream your XBOX games directly to your PC. No wires are required, only a one time setup process will pair your XBOX One with your computer. Not to mention, the new XBOX hub on Windows 10 will also enable users to chat and also check achievements right from the app. This means that in the future, you'll be able to play your XBOX games directly from say a Surface tablet, pretty cool. 

Well since Microsoft is also big in cloud computing, in the future this streaming service might come to small tablets and even phones maybe? 
Conclusion time, these are just some of the hard facts about Windows 10 during the January keynote. In the coming week, i'll be writing up a hands on review about the latest Windows 10 build in which i'll be talking about the modified new start menu and also Cortana. You can try out Windows 10 today via the Insider Program, it'll be definitely worth the time because Windows 10 is just frickin awesome.