Windows 10 Start Menu with Live TilesFor some inexplicable reason or another, Microsoft decided to skip Windows 9 altogether to announce the imminent arrival of the brand new Windows 10 operating system. In many ways, Windows 10 combines several of the key features found in Windows 8, like the Live Tiles, with key features found in Windows 7, like the Start Menu. The result is a hybrid operating system that just may provide the best Windows-based productivity platform to date.

And even though Windows 10 borrows much from both Windows 7 and Windows 8, it also introduces some new tricks up its desktop, laptop and mobile sleeves.

The Unified Experience

Microsoft says that Windows 10 will provide a far more unified experience across devices, giving you the same access to the same app store whether you’re using a smartphone, a tablet, a convertible, a laptop or a desktop PC. From a productivity standpoint, along with the more robust integration with OneDrive, this should make working across devices a little more seamless. And since the “Universal” Windows 8.1 apps that were once bound to the “Metro” interface can now run in regular Windows, the overall experience is decidedly more unified.

Multiple Virtual Desktops

Virtual Desktops like Mac OS X Spaces

Virtual Desktops like Mac OS X Spaces

This is a feature that may have been available in earlier versions of Windows, but it never received a proper interface or support to be intuitive or viable. Much like what you are able to do on a Mac, Windows 10 will also allow for the creation of multiple virtual desktops. What this means is that you can have several virtual “screens” that can then better organize the folder views and apps that you are running.

For example, you can have one desktop for the graphic design project you’re working on, another desktop for the white paper you’re writing, and another separate desktop for your personal social media exploits. This way, you can focus on just one project at a time without being distracted by the others, all while having the ability to quickly switch between them. This is integrated into the new Task View feature, which allows for quick switching between apps and desktops.

Universal Search with Bing

As a PC user, you may have grown accustomed to opening up the Start Menu and typing out the name of a file, folder or program. The search happens automatically across all the contents of your computer, so the need to really organize your software in a Start Menu isn’t as important as it has been in the past.

That’s still in place with Windows 10, but Microsoft has expanded on that utility to include web search results via Bing as well. This way, it doesn’t matter if you’re looking for something online or on your computer; it all comes up at once. While the Cortana voice assistant is still just a basic search tool on Windows 10 for now, its Siri and Google Now-like powers will likely make their way to the desktop eventually too.

Snap Assist Supports Four Windows

Windows 10 Snap Assist

Windows 10 Snap Assist

I remember when I finally migrated to Windows 7 several years ago and one of my favorite features was the ability to simply drag a window off to the left or the right edge of the screen and have it “snap” into place, taking up half of the monitor’s real estate. This is great for a writer like me, because I could have my word processor up in one half and my source material in the other half.

Just as the universal search feature got bolstered in Windows 10, the same is true here. The upgraded Snap Assist now not only lets you snap your windows to the left and the right, but it now comes in a quadrant-style configuration for up to four windows at a time. When combined with Task View and the multiple virtual desktops, Windows will also suggest which windows should be snapped together for optimal productivity. Now that’s smart way to utilize all your screen space!

Recycle Bin in the Taskbar

This may feel like a particularly simple change, and it is, but why didn’t Microsoft introduce this simple idea sooner? In the past, your Recycle Bin only showed up on your desktop. What this meant is that if you were actively working on things, you’d have to minimize those windows to see your bin. That made no sense. In Windows 10, the Recycle Bin can now be docked in the taskbar like any other shortcut or open window. If you want, you can even put it in the new hybrid Start Menu.

Image credit: Windows.com

###