First look at Windows 10
I have been away for a while due to preparations for my exam in Denmark and travelling back to Hungary (then travelling back to Hungary and from then on preparations for Transylvania then travelling to Transylvania, then preparations for my sister’s wedding then going to the wedding, which was freaking awesome by the way, and the list goes on and on…).
This summer has been quite busy for me, unfortunately (or thankfully?) I don’t really have too much time (=not at all) for dealing with development and technology, but I have managed to free up some time, so here I am and so is Windows 10! And so are my first impressions.
I must admit I have waited for this release for a long time. Not because of the features Microsoft has announced, I don’t really care about Cortana or the “better” Mail, Calendar and Office apps, or the Xbox integration (if you are reading this, chances are you already know about these things). So I don’t want to speak about this part.
I was hoping for a new, clean, deliberate, minimalistic OS with a modern look, so I don’t have to feel like I am using an outdated, oldschool system. I was expecting real good ideas over forcing something doesn’t work. I was hoping for a direction and consistency. Were my expectations too high, you say? Maybe they were, and the truth is, alongside with excitement, fear came as well, because if the new OS had failed the really last drop of faith in Microsoft would have gone.
The good news is Microsoft has kept the habit to create a good system after a terrible one.
Here are my favorite, small things about usability and the first impressions with a UI / UX perspective.
Oh gosh, yes, finally. Seriously, this was the first thing I have tried out after the fresh install, I have always been missing this ‘feature’ (sad that it must be a feature) from OS X, but apparently my prayers has been heard. From now on, we can scroll in any windows the mouse hovers. (not just in the active one). #2015
One, clean Settings Panel.
I wasn’t satisfied at all when I saw two completely separate places to control my computers settings in Windows 8 (PC Settings vs. Control Panel), and the funny thing was that most of the setting options in each panel were found only in one of them.
Apparently someone has told Microsoft that if someone needs to google how to change a simple cover wallpaper or basically change anything in the system, then something is wrong and it is a bad sign, because now these times are over. Now we got one, clean settings panel, where we can find everything. Yes, we still have the Control Panel which I have never been fan of, but it is quite hidden, and every option of it can be found in the Settings as well.
This is one of the (very) few things I have always loved in Windows and missed as a Mac user. Throwing a window to one of the sides to make it half screen size is a very useful gesture in my opinion, I am really using it a lot, and now they took it further. When we do that, the system automatically recognizes, that we would like to see and use 2 windows at the same time, so it offers the rest of the windows letting us to pick the one we wish to enlarge to the other side. Original, useful.
Minimalistic, clean and consistent U
One of the best part of Windows 10 is that it’s not Windows 8. They have removed all the visual clutter, all the useless panels which come from the top, from the left side, from the right side and from nowhere. It doesn’t feel like 2 products merged together any more.
It is really clean and minimalistic, but I don’t feel the lack of work of designers who use ‘simplicity’ as a reason for not working. And fortunately even this purity is customizable: I was afraid that the Cortana / Search bar or the Task view button won’t be removable from the taskbar, but they are.
I am really happy with these minor improvements, however there is always room for more.
For example I am still not sure what the Start Menu is for, besides shutting down the system. Yes, it is customizable with the tiles as well and we can think about it as a “Favorites” section, but I am pretty sure the majority of the users won’t care at all and will leave it as it is, throwing their stuff on the desktop, just like they used to do.
The Windows Search is pretty cool, fast and useful; by hitting the Windows key and starting typing, we can get any files or apps very quickly, just like with the Spotlight in OS X. Unlike the tiles in the start menu, this feature is not well advertised and not pushed enough in my opinion despite that it’s much more handy.
I got that they want to keep consistency between PCs, tablets and phones with the tile design, and that they want to keep Cortana as a separate service, but I could imagine integrating the Windows Search into the Start Menu somehow.
Another thing: I am not sure if this is because Cortana is not available in my region, but this Windows Search is not smart enough. I can live without understanding expressions like ‘PDF from last weekend’, but it should understand at least basic math without the big girl.
In conclusion after spending few days with this release I have to say this is not the Windows which comes with the space technology which will blow your mind. This is the Windows it always should have been. This looks like a Windows we always wanted. Obviously it is too early for a formal review or to judge, but the first impressions are quite convincing. I like it.
Microsoft’s vision is clear: they want to merge phones and PCs and blur the lines between these devices entirely. It is interesting to see, even if they will be wrong eventually, at least they do have a direction now. And in my opinion that direction is not that bad at all.