Guide to What’s New in Windows 10

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Windows 10 is Microsoft’s latest addition to its all-conquering Windows OS series. The software giant has added plenty of new things to the latest platform. If you’ve just upgraded to it, these are some of the new things to discover in Windows 10.

A Restored Start Menu

The Start menu isn’t exactly something new, but as it briefly disappeared from Windows 8 Microsoft has now restored it in all its glory in Win 10. The new Start menu effectively incorporates the Windows 8 Start screen. As such, now you can add tile shortcuts for software, apps and websites to the new menu.

The Start menu also includes an All apps list that replaces the All Programs list in Windows 7. All apps displays your software folders in an A – Z list so you can find them more quickly. Now you can also click 0 – 9 at the top of the menu so that you can quickly select letters to jump to in the folder A – Z. In addition, the Start menu’s All apps list also highlights new software as shown in the shot below.

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Aside from that, the Start menu is one part of Windows 10 that can have a small amount of transparency. That’s not exactly Windows Aero transparency, but a little more nonetheless. You can switch the transparency on by right-clicking the desktop, selecting Personalize > Colors and then switching the Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent option on.

Virtual Desktops

Task View, otherwise virtual desktops, is one of the big new things in Windows 10. Now you can press a Task View button on the taskbar to open thumbnail previews of all the open windows on desktop as in the snapshot below. You can open or close windows minimized to the taskbar from there.

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However, the best thing about Task View is that it enables you to open programs across multiple desktops. So instead of having all your programs open in one desktop, you can now have them open across two, three, four or more virtual desktops. The virtual desktops reduce taskbar clutter, and this Tech Junkie guide covers them in much more detail. 

Cortana Digital Assistant

Cortana is a new digital assistant app incorporated into Windows for the first time. You can open it by clicking the Cortana button on the taskbar. So this is a new search tool for Windows 10 with which you can find documents, apps, photos, settings, website pages and more besides.

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However, Cortana is somewhat more than just a search tool. It’s your very own digital assistant that you can speak to with microphone or text box. For example, you can ask it to set reminders for you or what the weather will be like over the weekend. Then it will give you a reminder note at a specified time or a weather forecast. Note that Cortana is only available in certain regions, but if it isn’t supported you can always use its search options.

New Snap Assistant

The Start menu, Cortana and virtual desktops are perhaps the most notable new additions to Windows 10. However, if you dig beneath the surface a little there’s a lot more. First, try out the new Snap Assistant by opening a few software windows and then dragging one to the side of the desktop. Then a transparent overlay should appear highlighting where the new window will snap to as below.

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So let go off the mouse button to snap the window to the left or right of desktop. Now the Snap Assistant will pop up showing you thumbnail previews of all the other open windows as shown below. Note that you can now also snap up to four windows on the desktop.

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New UI Design

Windows 10 includes new UI design elements. To see how Microsoft has revamped the UI, check out the new system tray clock, battery and volume slider. Double-click the system tray clock to open it as below.

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The new UI design no longer has a plain white background for the system tray clock, battery and volume bar. Instead, they have a matching accent color to the taskbar and Start menu. Furthermore, the system tray clock above is now a digital alternative.

More Command Prompt Options

The Command Prompt now has a few new options to select from. You can select them by right-clicking its title bar and clicking Properties. The Options tab includes a new Enable Ctrl key shortcuts check box you can select to copy and paste text from the Command Prompt with the Ctrl + C and Ctrl + V hotkeys.

Another new option you can select is on the Colors tab. That now includes an Opacity bar that you can drag further left to add transparency to the Command Prompt window. This “Guide to the Windows 10 Command Prompt” article provides more details about the enhanced Command Prompt.

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New and Enhanced Universal Apps

Windows 10 has an exciting collection of new and enhanced universal apps. As the apps are universal you can use them on any Windows 10 device be it tablet, mobile, laptop, etc. Overall, Windows 10 includes 29 default apps and you can add loads more.

First, try out some of the new apps such as Edge. Edge is a new browser included in Windows 10. This replaces Internet Explorer in Windows. Edge includes a new Web Note tool that enables you to add notes and annotations to website pages. The browser will also include JavaScript extensions, and with an optimized code base it is faster than IE.

Photos, Groove Music and Movies & TV are three other notable new apps in Windows 10. Photos instantly catalogues your photograph collection and provides new image-editing options. Groove Music and Movies & TV are apps that play audio and video. Both replace Windows Media Player as the default music and video player in Windows 10.

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Microsoft has also considerably enhanced other apps from Windows 8. Mail and Calendar are two of the more revamped apps in Windows 10. They’re now faster and have new options. Calendar now supports Google Calendar, and Mail now also supports all standard email systems such as Gmail, Yahoo, Exchange and POP accounts. For further app details, check out this “Guide to Windows 10’s Built-in Apps.

The Tablet Mode

Windows 10 also includes a new tablet mode that optimizes the platform for tablets. This mode gives tablet users a full-screen Start menu. Then the Start menu becomes more comparable to the Start screen in Windows 8.

To switch it on, enter ‘tablet mode’ in the Cortana search box and then select Tablet mode settings from there. That will open the window below from which you should switch the Make Windows more touch-friendly when using your device as a tablet option to On. That option also opens a Start screen in desktop versions of Windows 10. 

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So there are plenty of new things in Windows 10. Most reviews are rating it better than Windows 8. With virtual desktops, revamped Start menu, Cortana, a new browser, revitalized apps and enhanced UI design some are proclaiming it the best Windows platform yet. 

Posted by Matthew on July 22, 2016

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