Windows 10, the Next Big Thing for Microsoft
First of all, the release is July 29, next week. Excited yet? You should be. Not only are we getting a complete update for the famous operating system free for Windows 7 and Windows 8 users, but also the much anticipated release of the phone assistant, Cortana, for specific phones. Windows 10's release not only offers benefits for PCs, but also for the Xbox, Windows phones and tablets, and other interesting devices like virtual reality headsets.
How To Get It
First off, Microsoft has made Windows 10 more accessible than ever before. The home version can be bought at the price of $119/√Ç¬£99/√¢‚Äö¬¨135, but that's not the thing that's making people happy. It's the fact that anyone with Windows 7 or Windows 8/8.1 can update their OS to Windows 10 for absolutely free. Notable, however, is that this offer is only available for one year, so don't slack on that (though I don't expect that many will). Another thing that is absolutely notable is that this is update from Windows is quite special. It's the reason why I've been calling it an update for most of this article: it's more of an update than an entirely new OS. Not only is this slightly different in changing Window's philosophy to versions of Windows, but it's almost an extension of a previous Windows version. You can download and install this Windows without losing any of your data at all, according to Microsoft.
There are in total seven total versions of Windows 10 that cover many different systems, including Home, Mobile, Pro. Though those aren't all, those are the ones eligible for free download under the deal of upgrading from a previous version of Windows. Others include Windows 10 Enterprise, Education, Mobile Enterprise, IoT Core.
Windows 10 offer many functions that vary depending on the version from a better alt+tab to a better computer search to being able to schedule restarts, but for the sake of discussion, it could be most closely related at an improved Windows 8 in both appearance and functionality. While it's absolutely true that the release of Windows 8 wasn't exactly world-shattering in revolution √¢‚Ç¨‚Äú in fact, it was more of a step back in usability upon initial release √¢‚Ç¨‚Äú Microsoft has listened to the pleas and overhauled the entire thing, even skipping the number nine this time around.
Compared with Windows 8, Windows 10 has been stated to offer a more usable interface for multitasking and the return of the start menu verily. From the start (pardon the pun), the start menu employs Cortana, the assistant from Microsoft's Halo series who we all know and love. Stating that her integration will bolster capabilities in multitasking or general use through day to day activities, it's something quite new to see in an OS. While Apple has employed an assistant to some success, they've never spanned into desktop computers or anything larger than a tablet. Cortana will be the next big competitor, facing against already popular assistants like Siri and Google Now. Though I'm not usually one to touch the digital assistant, I'd be pleased to see what potential she has.
Because Microsoft has released their line of more portable devices, we've seen a blend in the styles between tablets and phones to those of down to earth desktops. Though the initial introduction of such a design in Windows 8 led to an experience of staggered usability, Microsoft has tried to learn from their mistakes and implement what are truly the best of both worlds. While there are features like "home" view, we still manage to have the tried and true start button amongst many other details that we might've been missing from Windows 8. As seen, one could imagine Windows 10 being a modernized Windows 7 and use it at that alone.
Another line of usability that might be drawing from tablets or phones that have the ability to directly multitask through separate windows is the fact that Windows 10 allows you to have multiple desktops. No, not multiple windows using the alt+tab, but actually multiple desktops with independent windows and applications open. This might be the most useful when you are doing two significantly different tasks, such as discussing a business plan on Skype and reviewing the Excel spreadsheets on one desktop while reading novoGamer on the other.
Something that is interesting is that, while in recent years security for devices have meant fingerprint scanners, swipe locks, and other neat things, that all changes with this new Windows. Not only does Windows 10 offer support for fingerprint readers like most devices do now, it also is planned to implement infrared face scans, 3D cameras, and iris scans. Yes, it is the future! Now we just have to wait for devices to actually have infrared cameras, 3D cameras, and iris scanners.
You might be reading this and find it underwhelming, the new features, but in total there are way too many to cover in one article. Microsoft has been slowly releasing the features behind their tech quite slowly, but that's only been adding on to the anticipation of it all. I believe we won't have a full grasp of what's to come until we actually use it for the first time √¢‚Ç¨‚Äú or we find out a year afterwards some amazing feature that would've come super handy had you known about it earlier.
Microsoft Edge? What's that? You may be scratching your head that you've never heard of one of Microsoft's biggest features for Windows 10, and that's just how they want it: Microsoft Edge is the new Internet Explorer. That's right, Windows 10 will feature the new browser with a new name, no longer associating itself with the shoddy, slow one we love... to hate. Under the name Project Spartan until now, Microsoft Edge is reportedly completely redesigned. This might be your next favorite browser! That's right, favorite! Because the browser will be built into the OS, it will be able to operate at higher speeds, better efficiency to its already substantial performance, and will even feature Cortana. Yep, she's everywhere, even giving tips whenever you pose for a selfie on how to smile... not really, I hope.
One thing of note is that IE is still there, but not as a traditional browser. When certain plugins or third party programs are needed, Internet Explorer still serves a role.
How Windows 10 Is Going To Change Gaming
For gaming, Microsoft 10 is coming with DirectX 12. Yes, you heard me! No more DirectX 11, but a more powerful API with much stronger performance on all aspects. This is expected to expand the limits of PC gaming quite a bit, especially with better 3D modeling and such required games. The new technology is claimed to have better manipulation of graphics cards, "unlocking" their potential, as well as having backwards compatibility to DirectX 11 cards. GameSpot recently provided a test which results can be seen here:
Click on the image to see GameSpot's full article on the matter. Other features that Microsoft claims to be evident in the new DirectX 12 is a 50% power consumption reduction and just general higher performance for a better experience with gaming and more efficient computers. Because of this, it might be possible that this starts a new generation of graphics cards, and Microsoft has already been working with Nvidia to produce promising results.
The DirectX 12 release should also help Xbox users to see a boost in performance, as that console implements it as well for its graphics processing. It should be noted, however, that many Xbox developers have stated that they don't have high hopes for the new technology, in contrast to PC users. Microsoft's Xbox division boss, Phil Spencer himself stated:
"On the DX12 question, I was asked early on by people if DX12 is gonna dramatically change the graphics capabilities of Xbox One and I said it wouldn’t. I’m not trying to rain on anybody’s parade, but the CPU, GPU and memory that are on Xbox One don’t change when you go to DX12. DX12 makes it easier to do some of the things that Xbox One’s good at, which will be nice and you’ll see improvement in games that use DX12, but people ask me if it’s gonna be dramatic and I think I answered no at the time and I’ll say the same thing.“
Even so, we here at novoGamer believe that DirectX 12 will allow for a larger space for game developers to work with and also hardware specifications to expand. As Mr. Spencer said, we may not see a huge difference, but one may appear over time.
Another big thing for Xbox users, Windows 10 offers something pretty huge in the gaming industry. You know what gaming device is also owned by Microsoft? That's right, the Xbox. According to sources, Windows 10 is offering cross platform play between Windows and Xbox. While it's not clear how many games will be supported, Microsoft invited a few developers to create games to get the ball rolling and initial results have been reported to be successful. While it's not clear how usable the games are with the physical limitations of using a keyboard and mouse over a controller, it's certainly the next step with using cross platform play with the PC. Nevertheless, this will make the console/PC war a bit more literal.
Another interesting feature that will be featured in Windows 10 is supposedly Microsoft's Windows Holographic. Debuted earlier this year, Microsoft is trying to literally offer a Window (get it) into the virtual reality world. Very credible names like Oculus have already been invited to try to make games for the new device and, from early reports, it's working out well. What's amazing is that support will come with Windows 10. No downloads from their website, no extra programs.Virtual reality may become the next big thing for gamers at home, surprising many.
To pair with those awesome features, Microsoft will be releasing what they call Hololens: a full PC, packed into a small headset, completely standalone. During Microsoft's presentation of the technology, they featured the someone wearing the virtual reality headset building a small drone with 3D software by Microsoft named Holo Studio, similar to what you might expect from AutoCAD. Afterwards, they actually brought the drone on stage: she had been building it real time with a 3D printer backstage, which only goes to show the detail that can be managed through the 3D view. We can only hope that the same detail provides a crystal gaming experience when that very same headset will be undoubtedly used to stimulate virtual reality. One factor that will probably be necessary is that you may need to connect it to an actual desktop PC if you wish to play beefier games, but we might be able to see implementation of technologies like Steam's broadcasting service for wireless use.
Something interesting, however, is the thought that you have a 3D headset, right? And you also have Microsoft's shining, smart, blue A.I., Cortana. That's right, something you could very well expect is an actual holographic projection of Cortana coming out as your digital assistant. If that doesn't happen, it's almost guaranteed that someone will make one!
Last Windows Version
This will be the last version of Windows. Worried? You really shouldn't be. Because of how this Windows is being written, there won't be any big updates like this one anymore. This is what Microsoft is saying, but I wouldn't be too surprised if something pops up later in life. However, the reason why there doesn't need to be any more updates is because Microsoft is gearing towards smaller updates. Updates a little more like how Apple handle updates. When an Apple computer updates, it's something you do overnight or even just while you're out grabbing lunch; suddenly your computer is running OS X Yosemite and you're good to go for the rest of the day. Compare this to Windows, where every version is a purchase, a new install, and what feels like a new computer. No more of that now, as Microsoft is planning on making itself more of a service, meaning that it will provide small updates and improvements.
Microsoft states that this is all possible by making stuff in the operating system modular. Confused? It's really quite innovative. If you imagine a car, Microsoft has taken the mentality that you replace the outdated things, the parts that have been broken, the parts that can be taken out relatively easily without replacing the car. By using this metaphor, if you imagine that Microsoft would be able to fix the start menu, or maybe the desktop, or maybe Microsoft Edge, without updating any major changes. However, a car is likely to need to be eventually replaced, which is why I say that I wouldn't be too surprised to Microsoft 11 or Microsoft 12 jump out at us within the decade.
Remember to mark the date, everyone, July 29th!