Microsoft’s latest operating system, the dramatically updated Windows 10, links desktop and mobile computing with a familiar interface. Windows 10 combines the best of Windows 7 with the innovations of Windows 8. Here’s how to use it to the fullest.
Whereas Windows 7 looked and felt like an evolution from the earlier iterations of the Windows operating system, such as Vista, Windows 8 was an entirely new prospect, delivering an interface more akin to mobile devices.
Windows 10 brings the best of both worlds. The Start button – loved by many in Windows 7 – makes a welcome return and by clicking on it you will bring up the Start menu, which is like the Windows 8 Start screen, but compacted into one handy menu that is hidden from view when not in use. The result is that you have an expansive desktop to work from, without the whole thing being populated by app tiles – all of which now reside exclusively in the Start menu.
There are still many ways in which you can tweak and tailor the operating system to meet your needs and requirements. You have complete freedom to arrange the Start menu however you want and there are many ways in which you can keep your favorite apps close at hand. For example, you can pin them to your Start menu, pin them to the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, or create shortcuts to them that can be accessed from your desktop.
Everything can be placed within easy reach so that you don’t have to think about finding it. And if you do, then entering keywords into the Search field will provide instant local and web searches to help you find what you want with the minimum of effort.
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for users of Windows 7 and later. You may already have seen a notification icon in your taskbar with the new Windows logo, from which you can reserve your upgrade.
Use Virtual Desktops:
I’ve always found switching among apps and applications snappier in Windows than in other desktop operating systems, but with Windows 10 comes yet another option—multiple virtual desktops. To work with these, simply hit the multi-screen icon next to the search box in the toolbar, and tap the Plus sign all the way at the right of the taskbar. After this, to switch between desktops, you can press the button again and choose the large thumbnail of the one you want.
Set up Continuum:
This one is most applicable if you’re running Windows 10 on a tablet or convertible laptop, or a PC with a touch screen. For example, if you have a Microsoft Surface 3, when you pull off the Type Cover keyboard, you’ll see a notification asking whether you want to switch to tablet mode. This is the Start screen and any modern app that happens to be running to full screen view, just like Windows 8.1 (which is actually a pretty good interface when run on a tablet).
Set Up Cortana:
Unlike Siri or Google Now, Cortana, Windows 10’s voice-response digital assistant, lets you control what it knows about you, so that it can pop up relevant reminders and display info of interest. You do this by making selections in Cortana’s Notebook, in your Contacts, and in the Maps app. The last two let you tell Cortana which contact is your spouse, and which places on the map are your home and workplace. That way, Cortana can pop up a reminder to call a spouse, or let you know how long a commute will take based on traffic.
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Like Google Now (and now Siri, to some extent) Cortana can listen for a key phrase, in this case “Hey Cortana!” and wake up to answer your requests. But before she can do any of this, you need to enable her the first time you click in the Windows 10 search box. This also involves granting permission to use your location, mic, contacts, email, messages, and browser history, though you can adjust these permissions to taste. Cortana can show you local news, sports, and weather info, and even tell you a joke or two.
Not only does Windows 10 bring back the warm and fuzzy Start menu, but the new interface does something Windows 8 failed to do—it makes a point of showing and explaining what’s new. And if you never upgraded to Windows 8 or 8.1, you’re missing out on one of my favorite aspects of the OS: It starts up remarkably faster than Windows 7.