It seems only yesterday Microsoft announced Windows 8. Touted as the first proper Microsoft experience on tablets, they sought to compete with Apple in a heavily occupied space. A few reviews gave Windows 8 some praise for embracing the tablet experience while others criticized it heavily for making the desktop experience uncomfortable, even painful to navigate. Microsoft then released Windows 8.1 to make some changes to the OS to make it more user friendly and, while it did improve, it was nowhere near trouble-free. Microsoft took their time developing their next OS so standard logic would imply a better product, right? Well, Windows 10 is here and it’s definitely a step up from Windows 8.1 but does it earn your favor as your main OS? Let’s dive into the details.

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Looks

On the surface, Windows 10 looks quite similar to Windows 7. Gone is the touch friendly Metro layout and back is only one home screen: the desktop from Windows 7. No more alternating between modes, thank goodness. However, the ideas from the Metro layout are still here, they’re just hidden in a more comprehensive Start Menu. You have the typical appearance of a search bar and recent applications but Live Tiles are just to the right and they show you all sorts of information without forcing you to leave your desktop.

There’s not much else to say regarding looks as Windows 10 is simply a more polished looking OS than Windows 8.1, 8 or 7. It looks more mature and streamlined, just as any new version of software should. The real improvements lie in the function and boy, does Windows 10 bring the func…tion.

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What It Does

There are a number of tweaks in Windows 10 which make the user experience quite enjoyable but I’ll focus on the big two: Cortana and Edge. Cortana is the virtual assistant tied to the Halo series which Microsoft has retained exclusive rights to on the XBox. She’s surprisingly useful as you can either speak or type questions and she’ll answer either directly in the search area or she’ll pop up a browser to find the answer. The real strength here is how Cortana is available at any moment as she’s always listening for a command, just like Google Now. She also learns your preferences which she keeps stored in a “notebook” and you can set or change these preferences at any point.

Windows 10 also brings Edge. Edge is a brand new browser built to replace the ancient Internet Explorer. Basically, Edge is Google Chrome without all the memory usage. It’s clean, simple, fast, and forgoes all of the age-old legacy protocols like ActiveX. It’s just a properly slick browser. Of course, where would Microsoft be without the XBox and there’s now a way to stream games from your XBox to your Windows 10 computer via an app. I like these options coming out from Sony and NVIDIA so Microsoft jumping on board can only bode well for future gaming endeavors. There’s so much more to Windows 10 but those are the highlights; I’m actually upgrading my computer right now!

Meet Weston Lanpher

Weston is our professional gadget reviewer. Nothing thrills him more than being able to get his hands on the latest and greatest in electronics.