It’s hard to say with some certainty what users expected when rumors of Windows 9 surfaced earlier this year. Microsoft had already talked plenty a bit about some important features. Mainly, it confirmed that the next version of Windows would have an optional Start Menu and let apps run in the Desktop. Anything beyond that, anything at all was a virtual unknown.
In early October, Microsoft announced Windows 10. Spiritually, it’s what we all assumed Windows 9 would be. Indeed, there is a new Start Menu. Windows Store apps can be run in the Desktop along with traditional apps like iTunes too. There are more features in the Windows 10 that have already surfaced, and a few Microsoft has named outright.
Read: What is Windows 10?
Here are the features we know now are in Windows 10 or are strongly rumored to be in Windows 10 once Microsoft finishes the operating system. All are a pretty good reason to upgrade to the operating system next year.
Microsoft talked about many features for Windows 10 before we actually knew what Windows 10 was, like Desktop Windows Store apps and the Start Menu. What it didn’t talk about in great detail was its plans for bridging gap between the tablet friendly Windows Start Screen with the more mouse and keyboard friendly Start Menu. This link is called Continuum and it’s not yet available in the Windows 10 Technical Preview, so we have not been able to use it for ourselves.
We know it exists, because Microsoft talked about it at its Windows 10 event. Continuum is for devices with multiple input methods. Instead of forcing one interface on users, Continuum will ask users whether they’d like to switch to a more touch or mouse friendly interface depending on whether a keyboard is attached and activated. Rumors point to users at home getting their first taste of Continuum with the Windows 10 Consumer Preview.
Windows has always picked up new media capabilities when they became relevant. In the mid-2000s many people used a home theater PC running Windows Media Center to get digital media in their living room. Windows Media Player has existed for years and picked up CD playback and even its own third-party music stores in previous versions of Windows.
You might have heard of WMV and WMA files. They’re audio and video files, respectively. AVI and MPEG4 files are big now too. Those are also a video and audio format. Windows 8 supports all of those, and in Windows 10 Microsoft is adding support for MKV files. Typically, these are the video files captured from a DVD or downloaded over the web. This may become the first version of Windows that doesn’t require that users install a third-party video app for watching video files.
For some people, the Start Menu is the most important part of the Windows 10 operating system. A lot of tablet users found the Start Screen to be pretty useful, notebook and tablet user couldn’t necessarily be sold on the idea. So Microsoft is trying to find some middle ground.
Windows 10 users with a mouse and keyboard will find that the Start Screen in Windows 10 has been replaced by the Start Menu. This Start Menu isn’t exactly as you might have known it before. On its left are a list of frequently used apps, a power button, access to settings and a search bar. On the right edge is essentially a shrunken Start Screen. Finally, desktop users have what they’ve clamored for since 2012.
Search / Cortana
The Windows 8.1 update added integrated Bing Search to Windows for the first time. Some liked it, some still don’t know that there’s a Search button built into Windows.
Windows 10 makes built-in search clearer. Forget that hidden Search Charm in Windows 8, the Task Bar and Start Menu both include search buttons. Documents and web results are cleanly integrated. Microsoft has hinted at and leaks have pointed to Cortana, Microsoft’s voice and text-powered assistant from Windows Phone making a début in Windows 10.
Predictive Text Keyboard
Smartphones have had predictive text for years, but today it remains a missing feature from Windows 8. Predictive text allows users to type a few letters of a word and then select from a list of words.
Store Apps and Desktop apps
When you download an app from the Windows Store today, it’s only available in the Start Screen. What that means is every app covers your entire screen, doesn’t allow you to multitask in the Desktop and can’t be resized unless you have a screen with a high enough resolution.
In Windows 10, whether apps downloaded from the Windows Store are full-screen or available in the Desktop depends on whether you have keyboard and touch or not. Have a Desktop? Prepare to run Windows Store apps alongside classic apps like iTunes and Windows Media Player.
Live Tiles were intended to be the perfect mix between beauty and information. Almost uniform, Microsoft originally designed the for Windows Phone as a way to quickly and easily disseminate information and act as a short cut. They work beautifully for that.
Unfortunately, using Windows 8 for any long period highlights their shortcoming. Microsoft may have given users a way to check notifications quickly, but it didn’t add a container for storing the ones you miss or for apps that aren’t pinned to the Start Screen. Windows 10 includes a unified notification center for all apps, the Desktop version is already available and it’s hard not to imagine that Microsoft won’t include a version for touch users when they release Windows 10.
Task view is an easy and simple way of looking at all the apps you have open in the Desktop. In short, Microsoft is borrowing a terrific feature from Apple’s Mac OS X software for iMacs and MacBooks.
Grabbing a window with your mouse and dragging it to the side of your screen has always been useful. It’s great for multitasking. Windows 10 makes auto suggestions when you start snapping things. You can quickly divide your display into halves or even quarters.
Apps running in one single place are great. Being able to run apps across multiple devices is the dream. Apple appeared to be toying with this idea when it opened the Mac App Store some time ago, however it’s Microsoft that’s come the closest to actually delivering on it. Today, Windows Store apps run on Desktops, laptops, tablets and unlock companion apps on Windows Phone.
With Windows 10, there will be only one Windows Store and Microsoft has promised that it’ll let users run the same app across its entire ecosystem. We’re talking Windows, Windows Phone and even the Xbox One. One Windows Store, one app on everything.
A lot of people like to open tons of apps. They are then left to sort between those different apps depending on whether it’s for work or personal. Keeping track of them can be a nightmare.
Microsoft will let users artificially added different Desktops. Desktop apps can be sorted then and organized based on task. Doing some Black Friday shopping? Great, leave that in a window your boss can’t see. You can switch between them with the flick of a button.
Microsoft plans to unleash a Windows 10 Technical Preview that’ll included these features plus more early on in 2015. GottaBeMobile will keep you updated with any more features the company adds.