Windows 10 Build 10041 Deep Dive Part 1

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Windows 10 Build 10041 Review Part 1: Installation and First Impressions

I’ve spent several days with the latest Windows 10 Tech Preview, and here’s what the latest iteration of the OS brings to the table. This is in no way an exhaustive or feature-complete listing, just my take away from a few days’ use. This post grew in the making, so I’ve decided to break it up into a series.

The build is internally named “impressive”, which is a bold statement from the dev team.

We’re going to dive into Windows 10 to see if it lives up to the internal build name and we won’t come up for air for a bit. So if you’re prepared, read on!

Installation

You can get the installation ISO for Windows 10 Build 10041 from Microsoft’s Technical Preview Site.

Installation starts of pretty ho-hum and familiar with the standard screens you’d expect if you’ve installed Windows 8, 8.1 or previous Windows 10 previews.

There is however a slightly new installation process that gives a bit more of an introduction to big features of Windows 10: OneDrive integration and the Cortana IPA.

OneDrive

I feel that Microsoft never really gave people a compelling use-case for OneDrive beyond the obvious “it’s kinda like Dropbox” feature set. This time around they’ve made an effort to ensure that you know how it can be of use to you, right inside the Windows 10 installation screens.

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A brief description of OneDrive for the uninitiated. Finally! Microsoft has built a really solid cloud storage platform that largely goes unused. Maybe this will help adoption of the platform.

One of the weird things that I noticed was that there is no mention at all about OneDrive’s new “Fetch Files on your PC” feature. This is another potentially very useful feature that is going unannounced to users that are most likely to want to use it, the non-tech-savvy. If I want a file I have on my home computer I can RDP or SSH or what-have-you into said machine and either upload it to my personal cloud or just download it directly to the machine I’m currently on, however for a large percentage of the computer using populace that’s unthinkably complex and probably unimagined in the first place. OneDrive Fetch allows your OneDrive enabled PC’s files to be remotely accessed via the OneDrive website when you sign in with the same credentials used on your PC. This feature is disabled by default and must be enabled (a good thing, in my opinion), but at no point was I notified of the feature’s existence or prompted to enable it. I’m calling this a big oversight.

Cortana

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Ah yes, Cortana. The Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA) I never asked for. I see the use for an IPA, and Cortana is kinda cool, but she’s not quite ready for prime time yet; which is fine for the time being, since this is just a warm-up. The voice recognition is actually dead-on accurate so far, but what I don’t like is that I can’t just talk to Cortana and have “her” open up things on my computer; she’s super focused on online content.

Personally I want to be able to do something along the lines of “Cortana, change my wallpaper.” or “Cortana, I need to set a static IP address.” and currently she just comes back with “No matching documents found”. That’s not assistance. I also tried a few simple searches like “What pizza places are near me?” and she launched a browser with Bing search results, which is not what I was hoping for. Ideally some results would pop up inside the Cortana interface with ratings, distance, etc. you know, how Google handles it. Yes, I just went there.

Ultimately I want an IPA like the Cortana from Halo. Intelligent enough to know what the heck I’m talking about, contextually and then helpful based on that intelligence. I don’t think we’re there yet. Currently she’s just a fancy voice transcription engine for Bing search. It obviously remains to be seen if Windows 10 will be the OS that brings that level of intelligence to the mainstream or not.

Install Summary

Over all, the installation was pretty seamless and intuitive. It’s the most hand-holdy Windows install yet, which will be a good thing for non-tech folks upgrading from Windows 7 especially.

Onward to actual use!

For better or worse the new theme is developing and being further integrated.

I wrote a passing bit about the new visual theme of Windows 10 in my Build 9926 article earlier this year. In said article I talked briefly about how the new icon color scheme looked like someone saw iOS and decided “we can totally do that to Windows!” All the colors are super saturated while the art style has been flattened. The effect struck me as a bit… overbearing at first glance. This build sees the icon set further flattened (notice the new recycle bin sans-transparency). I don’t hate it, but I’m not convinced I like it yet either. Again, it feels like a copy-cat to iOS 8’s color and style, except lacking the character of that UI. Maybe that’s just personal preference more than anything else.

Windows 10 Icons
Flat and saturated. The icons certainly stand out from each other, at least. (Yes I horizontally aligned my icons for you, dear reader. No I’m not some sort of horizontal-icon-user. Don’t be ridiculous.)

 

Windows 10 10041 Explorer
Here again we see the flat look and saturated colors. The icons do give immediate visual cues as to what they are and are not, so I suppose the UI team can be given points on that front. The colors are just so… colorful…

I think ultimately it’s just a very odd juxtaposition between the minimal use of color in some parts of the OS and the vivid, eye-popping use of color in others that strikes me oddly. Perhaps the UI is just partially complete and it will all coalesce into a cohesive experience; also perhaps I’ll just suck it up and learn to deal with it.

Part 1 Conclusion:

So far so good. Windows 10 is pretty solid, really. I’m still not 100% sold on the UI changes, but I’m dealing with it. In the next post we’ll dive into the new and enhanced features, so be sure to come back for it!

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Update: Part 2 has been released – Check it out!

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