Windows 10 Technical Preview

Since this week Windows 10 is available in a Technical Preview. This version is not for faint harted or inexperience users. Other advice is not to install it on your main computer.

So I did download it and installed it on my Surface Pro 3. I choose not to upgrade my existing version of Windows 8.1. As a result I missed an awful lot of drivers 😉 Luckily I could download them on another laptop. 

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In the near future there will be a real beta for everyone. This version just scratches the surface on all coming changes.

What did change? If you are still using Windows 7, you probably look at Windows 8 on occasions and found the Startmenu is not there. Well not completely true, in fact your Start menu is now a complete screen. But when using Windows 8 for the first time, it is difficult to use. It looks like they moved all the cheese around.

Windows 8 was built for tablets or laptops/desktops with touch. Windows 7 was perfectly usable with a mouse and keyboard. In fact Windows could be used with just a keyboard. With Windows 8 (and with the introduction of the Surface RT) Touch came as a new dimension.

If you used a Metro or Windows 8 app from the Store, you had to swipe from the right to get to the settings of the app. There Charms bar with the settings of the active app became visible. With the mouse you had to go to the one pixel in the right upper corner of the screen. Or the key combination Windows-key + I of Windows-key + C(harms).

What was the problem? These ways of using Windows were not in our muscle memory and it felt very strange compared to the other versions.

With Windows 10 Microsoft is trying to solve this problem. Windows 8 was mainly made for touch/tablet, Windows 10 is built with the existing/normal desktop user without touch in mind.

And this Technical preview version feels good. Even on a tablet.

A quick tour. The most important change for many the start menu is back. But they tried to improve it too. The live tiles and the pinning capability like on the start screen are added.

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The search box is also back. In Windows 8.1 with the Windows-key + Q(uery) combination you could do a search. With this search option is it easier to search for apps. Clicking on ‘All Apps’ gives you the same experience as in Windows 7. You will see the folders of installed x86 apps not from the Windows Store.

On the Taskbar is also a magnifier. With this you can perform a desktop search. But the addition it does not only search for files of apps, but also gives search results from search engines. Which can be pretty handy.

The startmenu can be adjusted in height and width, interessting for a 4K Monitor.

Back to the Windows 8.1 way of working? Also possible. According to some clips on the internet switching between a Start menu and a Start page will be automatic when detaching the keyboard on a Surface. That would be logical and a real handy.

On the taskbar perform a right mouse click and go to properties. On the third tab ‘Start Menu’ change the setting. It will be affective after logging in again.

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The Windows key and hardware button show you the Start screen again.

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Another design thingy all windows now have some sort of halo/shadow. The picture below does not show it clearly, but it is funny.

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The change which is only noteable when comparing it to Windows 8, all windows now don’t have an edge. The screens below show this, on top Windows 8 and on below Windows 10. It makes it easier for the eyes.

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Of course the icons are also changed and refreshed. And they cleaned up some useless spacing.

In Windows 8 a Store app / Metro app / Windows 8 app was always full screen. Not anymore, they are now filling up the screen. But you can change the size.

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The necessity to go to the Charms bar is removed. In the title bar there is a button with three dots (…). With this menu you can go to the settings. That is logic, because an app is not anymore full screen.

The resizing of a Store app is limited to the height. At this moment (?) there is a minimal height for a Windows Store app, the width is not yet is less limited.

In all versions of Windows ALT-TAB is the way to flip through the open apps. The Windows key–TAB was added and the opened applications was show more graphical manner. In Windows 8 this worked too, but the Windows Store apps were not shown. Now they do.

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Other news in the black bar ‘Add a Desktop’ is shown. In Windows 10 you can have multiple desktops. On one physical screen you can split your apps and desktops.

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In Windows 7/8 desktop with the key combination Windows key+arrow right/left, the active application could be docked to the left of right. Handy to read two documents next to each other. There are just a few possible ways: left, right, full screen, normal.

In Windows 8 metro there were no key combinations and less possibilities. At first there two Windows Store apps side by side and in 8.1 it was changed to 3.

In Windows 10 the screen is divided in 4 quadrants and with the Windows key and the arrows. This is also possible for Windows Store apps, with respect of the minimal height.

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The last part of Windows not changed for a very long time; the command prompt. A modern environment but not modern Command prompt. But now the Command prompt is really changed.

Cut/Copy/Paste is now possible with the well-known keystrokes. Selecting of text on the screen is possible. You can make the prompt transparent. Lots of little things we already wanted for decades.

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We are talking about a Technical Preview, but it feels very stable. The many changes look very good. It is not the end, because some functionality is broken. ALT-F4 does not work for Windows Store apps at this moment. On my Tablet/Laptop Surface it feels very good and natural.

Disclaimer: This post is based on a preview and all items are subject to change in the future.

I love to see the next updates. During the Build conference in April more details and probably a public beta will come.

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