The Windows 10 Release

Culture The Windows 10 Release

Windows 10 is the latest and, apparently, last Windows update from technology giant Microsoft; a fusion of the most popular features from Windows 7 and 8. It marks some ambitious steps in a new direction for the company, as well as building on their previous successes. The update is multi-platform, used to power desktops, mobile devices and wearables alike. (Microsoft is hoping this universal design will provide developers with incentive to design software for the system.)

So, let’s get down to it – what’s got everyone so excited about Windows 10? We take a look at a few of the major sparkling new features in this latest package, and how they’ll change the way we interact with our machines.

Your device will begin by greeting you with Windows Hello; a biometric authentication scan to determine your identity and unlock your computer. Windows Hello can either recognise your face or your fingerprint, adding an extra layer of solid security.

The new feature that’s caught everyone’s eye is Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri – the digital personal assistant, Cortana, who first appeared in Windows 8.1. Cortana fields spoken or typed requests to perform a plethora of functions; be it searching the internet or planning your itinerary. Over time, Cortana studies your habits, which she uses to predict your schedules and behaviour with increasing accuracy. (If this sounds too Skynet-esque, there are options included to limit her learning.)

Along with Cortana comes Microsoft’s shiny new browser, Edge. Edge not only loads web-pages faster, but also allows you to annotate them (for example, by highlighting key information) before sharing them with friends or colleagues. What’s more, it displays contextual information about selected text at the click of a button, skipping the need to type it into a search engine.

The Start Menu has made a comeback from its controversial removal in Windows 8. In addition to the standard shortcuts, the Start Menu is the home of Live Tiles, which can be used to launch your favourite apps or to provide information at a glance – whether it’s unread emails or forthcoming diary alerts. Should you find yourself morosely wishing for Windows 8’s full-display Start screen, you can enable this via settings.

Leaving aside the grander-scale virtual reality prospects it brings to devices like Microsoft’s Hololens, Windows 10 is aimed at increasing usability, accessibility, and just generally making your life easier. For the moment, only those on Microsoft’s Insider Program – those who provided feedback during the development stages – have access to the update, but the company is staggering its release over the coming months.

The consumer version will be a free update for Windows 7 and 8.1 users for the first year of Windows 10’s release, and Microsoft’s future updates will take the form of steady, piecemeal revisions. If you download it and change your mind, there is a “rollback” option that works for the first 30 days.

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