The latest news from Microsoft is they are continuing development of its latest desktop and mobile operating system, Windows 10, and revealed some more details at a media briefing last month. Here’s a look at some notable new features and design changes in the latest build of the desktop OS.
- Cortana Desktop – Microsoft is bringing its mobile digital assistant, Cortana, to the desktop. Cortana has been available on Windows Phone 8.1 for a while already, and it works similar to Apple’s Siri or Google Now on Android devices. On the desktop, Cortana will be the central location for searching your local machine and the Web, either by voice or typing in your questions.
- No Charms Bar – Charms Bar is being replaced with the Notification Center. The notification center is what Microsoft calls the “Action Center”, which gives you notifications and quick access to common actions like Wi-Fi or Airplane Mode.
- Settings – This recent build does still includes the desktop Control Panel, along with a new Settings app that is going to replace Control Panel. The Settings app is a central location where you will go to manage different aspects of your device, such as the display, network, accounts, personalization, Windows Update, and more. The new Settings app will be consistent across all Windows devices, too.
- Better Apps – Previously called “modern” or “metro-style apps”, Microsoft is now calling them “Universal apps” as they’ll look and function virtually the same on different Windows 10 devices.
- Windows Store – Speaking of the new Universal apps, the Windows app store has been redesigned and is currently in beta stage. It has a new look that will be consistent across computers, tablets, phones, Xbox One, and the Web.
- Switch between Tablet and Desktop Mode – This version of Windows will be optimized for convertiblePCs. When a keyboard is connected to the device, it switches to desktop mode automatically, which is optimized for using a mouse and keyboard. When you remove the keyboard, it will enter tablet mode, which is optimized for using the touch interface. And you can switch between modes manually by tapping a button in the Action Center to use whichever mode that works best for you and your situation.
You can expect additional changes as Windows 10 takes its final shape before it becomes available at retail.