In recent times, the beginning of a release cycle for a new iteration of a Microsoft OS product has been almost boringly predictable. It usually goes something like this: release, hatred by users of previous version, resignation by said haters, repeat. For once though, the impending release of Windows 10 might follow a slightly different narrative. In fact, right now there is something that has been all too rare for Microsoft: anticipation.

Here’s why.

 

IT’S FREE. SORT OF.

 

Well, it is if you are upgrading a Windows 7 or a newer console in the first year of release. Microsoft intends to make Windows more of a service than an operating system, which has created some consternation for users concerned they will be charged a subscription fee. Microsoft later clarified its position, stating this means that updated features will be presented when they’re available, not when a new version is released. So, the common sense conclusion would be that the free upgrade is simply an incentive to willing first adopters. We may then see a return to normal upgrades costing $100 – $300.

 

CONTINUUM 

 

No, not the John Mayer album. You see, Windows 8 works wonderfully… as long as you’re on your tablet or smartphone. Yet move to your laptop or desktop and things go a little awry. This should end with 10 – the continuum feature will know when you are using what platform and adjust configurations to suit. Even when your tablet is connected to your keyboard, no more apps conquering your entire laptop screen. The original Win8 format stays the same for (unmounted) tablets and smartphones, which actually works.

 

UNNAMED I.E. REPLACEMENT

 

The lagging, freezing and limited functionality of Internet Explorer is finally meeting its reckoning. Code Name: Spartan is set to be unleashed with the coming of Windows 10. With a sleeker design, and features like Reader mode (stripped down screen with no distractions), Note taker mode (making notes directly on the webpage), and Cortana (which I’ll discuss shortly), this could help Microsoft peg back some credibility (and market share) in the browser arena.

 

THE RETURN OF THE START MENU

 

This is actually a continuation of Continuum, but this feature alone has caused enough noise on it’s own. The general consensus has been that unless you have a touchscreen on your desktop or laptop, the live tiles have been an unsatisfactory substitute for the start menu. The new start menu will have a hybrid approach, you still get a small format menu akin to the Windows 7 version, but also attached is a customized series of customizable tags, all of which can be configured to your personal tastes. This should make navigating your device a lot less irritating.

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HOLA, CORTANA!

 

Microsoft’s answer to Siri will be making a cross-platform debut with the Windows 10 Release. The software, introduced for Windows Phone in 2014, answers voice commands, remembers your preferences and tendencies, and bases its answers off of those. After watching the movie Her, I don’t know how to feel about where this might be going; but the functionality is a definite plus.

 

CROSS PLATFORM GAMING

 

Under the theme of connected gadgets once again, we have discovered that Win10 will also take advantage of cross-compatibility to allow the same games played on Xbox One Consoles to function and play on your PC’s and notebooks. Their Xbox Live service will serve as the hub between all consoles. Combine this with a wireless Xbox Controller adapter capable of seamless transition between console and PC and you end up with a consistent gaming experience wherever you happen to wind up playing.

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VIRTUAL DESKTOPS

 

Unfortunately, not everybody has the opportunity to have a second monitor, which can make some tasks a little cumbersome. The virtual desktop feature should resolve some of this problem.

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Windows 8 had a pretty good idea when they devised the split screen option. The underlying problem was that you still only got a single desktop space. Now, all that is needed is to click a taskbar-icon to have a dual display experience on a single screen.