Q. Why did Microsoft name the next version of Windows “Windows 10”?
A. Because 7, 8, 9. Get it? Seven ate……9….
I’m so very sorry.
Okay so here we are, testing out Windows 10 build 9926. I had a dedicated machine set up for Windows 10 at one point, but I’ve since scrapped that and I’ll be testing this inside of Hyper-V on my Windows 8.1 Laptop.
I’ve given the VM the following specs: 2 vCPUs, 2GB RAM, 80GB dynamic hard disk which lives on my sub-par 5400rpm HGST laptop hard drive. Obviously I’m not expecting this to be lightning fast, but it should be reasonably decent; this isn’t a performance check after all.
So setup goes as setup does nowadays with whatever OS you’re installing: smoothly. No hiccups of any kind. During user setup I choose to “create an account” and select to sign in without a Microsoft Account. I like my user accounts to be local, thank you very much.
After the desktop loaded up I went to install the Hyper-V Integration Services, only to be notified that Windows 10 knew it was a Hyper-V VM and already took care of that for me. That was pretty cool.
The desktop looks pretty appealing, but I quickly noticed that there is built in Bing search bar right next to the “Start” button. It occurs to me that the fact that we still call it a “Start” button has stuck around for 20 years at this point… but I digress, where was I?
My first thought is “Oh great, Bing is being forced down my throat.” Until I right clicked on the task bar and found that it’s very easy to disable the Search box altogether or turn it into just a little magnifying glass icon. I chose to get rid of it altogether.
This was much better. I then realized that for the purposes of a review I really should test out the search functionality and so forth; so, against my better judgment, I turned it back on. When I went to perform my first search with the Bing Bar I instantly remembered that Cortana was supposed to be a big part of Windows 10, because “she” greeted me.
Just look at that list of required information. Now I’m not against AI assistants or whatever nomenclature you want to use for it, in principal. I am, however, incredibly skeptical about a cloud-based AI assistant that will be stowing away all my personal information.
I’m sure it’s helpful and handy, but I guess I’m just not comfortable with sharing any more of my personal data than I really have to. It seems to me that this functionality could be brought local and implemented with the same information, but without it being stored and analyzed by a 3rd party. Anyhow, for sake of this review I put in my hardly ever used Microsoft account info and I was greeted by this:
So I went to the trouble of creating a local account and now to use this new fancy PDA program you’re going to convert my existing account on my machine to a Microsoft Account? Fine. Whatever. Okay, let’s do this.
I did a several searches for various inane things and Bing is Bing; the results were fine.
I decided to try something a little more interesting and typed “Remind me to post my blog entry in 5 minutes”. It popped up with a helpful reminder confirmation, pretty slick.
The only gotcha is that I never got a reminder 5 minutes later. I thought maybe I just missed it so I tried again with a 1 minute reminder, still no dice. I decided to check the Calendar App to see if it was there, but the reminders just floated off into the ether, apparently. Oh well, I’m sure it’ll be working by launch.
I actually really like the subtle UI tweaks that have been done since 8.1. The Window controls (Minimize, Maximize, Close) have a flattened, subdued theme; only getting colorized when you float the cursor over them. Something about that was pleasing to me.
The Windows Explorer interface is kind of the opposite with colors that pop as if whomever designed them really likes HDR photography.
Speaking of Windows 10’s Explorer – The aforementioned OneDrive integration is absolutely worlds better than I’ve seen it done before. Browsing my OneDrive is a fast as browsing local files, so that was a nice perk.
One thing that bugs me about this preview is that Homegroups were enabled automatically – I don’t user Homegroups and think they’re pretty much useless for most people out there, but I could be corrected on that.
I then moved on to the App Store. In my opinion the Windows 8 App Store was just terrible in most regards. It’s better with Windows 10, but I still don’t have a compelling reason to use it and find it to be a less appealing experience than Apple’s App Store. As I tried to pin down what it was that I didn’t like about it ultimately circles back around to esthetics, really. The interface is very sparse and I am just not a fan of the “tiles” Microsoft has decided to use in Windows 8, 8.1 and 10. I find them dull and uninspiring. Additionally, I found the application information on the initial landing page to be lackluster. “Okay, so based on the tile, it’s a game with a red truck. Cool. How about some text to give me a little more info so I can decide if I want to click on it and invest the time to get back where I was?”
The idea of an App Store in general is largely lost on me, as a power user, I generally know what programs I want or can find them easily enough. I think I am simply not the target demographic for apps being recommended to me at this point. Especially since I use so many open source programs now.
Other than these initial impressions, it seems fine. I’m not super excited by this newest release, but that may have more to do with my decreasing reliance upon Microsoft Operating Systems, or Operating Systems in general. The stuff I use constantly is all still there for the most part, such as Win+X, Win+R, etc., so I’m satisfied that Windows 10 will be perfectly serviceable for me.