Microsoft Aims to Reboot Connections With Windows 10

25 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Store app will finally sell some decent games.

One of the coolest new Windows 10 features is talking to your computer. Microsoft wants people who are testing Windows 10 to update to the latest version of the operating system, and the company has provided an important incentive: anyone running an older version of the OS will be unable to access the Windows Store, starting Friday. It’s not quite as simple as “Windows 10 will be available that day.” Windows Insiders (read: Windows 10 preview testers) will get first dibs when Windows 10 launches on July 29, while everyone else will see a staggered roll out over the following days.

With just a week left before Microsoft launches Windows 10, as it embarks on its quest to reach a billion customers, a lot’s been spoken about Windows 10 already. As far as I can tell, though, that won’t be a big deal: I activated Cortana—complete with the always-on “Hey Cortana” voice recognition command—on my personal desktop and laptop, and I’m having no issues yet. Under Windows 10, developers will be able to submit a broader range of apps for inclusion in the store compared to Windows 8, including web apps that are built to run on a user’s desktop and legacy Win32 apps in addition to “Modern” apps that feature a Windows 10-esque interface.

Even worse is the games portion of the store, which seems to highlight casual games for phone users more than traditional PC games. (One exception is Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, a game that was ported to Windows Phone and can be played on Windows 10 PCs.) On Windows 10, two apps stand out for their entertainment value: the Microsoft Solitaire Collection, an attractive group of traditional Windows games like Minesweeper; and the Xbox app, which is home to a social network as well as innovations like game streaming from an Xbox One to a PC. The new operating system also includes support for what Microsoft is calling the Windows universal app platform, which lets developers build core application code that can then be run across devices from smartphones to the Xbox One. Microsoft says it will use the rollout to check compatibility and to “listen, learn, and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.” However, the company notes that “the vast majority” of PCs running Windows 7 and higher should be fully compatible— though the compatibility checker doesn’t recognize Nvidia’s Windows 10-compatible GeForce GTX 980 Ti graphics card.

So far, I’ve tried with my Logitech G930 wireless headset, my Blue Snowball microphone, and—hey, why not—a Blue Icicle plugged into an XLR-equipped analog microphone too. Cortana definitely seemed to interpret my commands a little faster with the higher-quality mics, but all of them seemed to launch Cortana, and issue a variety of voice commands, just fine. Some users will likely be frustrated by this approach, but the good news is that Microsoft is experimenting with alternative methods such as peer-to-peer distribution for future Windows 10 updates. Microsoft has been rapidly pushing out updates to build 10240 that include bug fixes and other performance improvements over the course of the past week, and plans to continue doing so in the immediate run-up to Windows 10’s launch.

Using Windows 8 now feels like using an early build of Windows 10 when they has just started putting in a touch interface, but hadn’t integrated it just yet. Gone is the charms bar that would suddenly pop out from the left edge of the screen, except if you wanted it to of course; and gone are the convoluted gestures for switching between apps. Desktop applications running in a window isn’t a fresh concept, especially in an operating system called Windows, that launched with support for running apps in a window nearly 30 years ago.

This might not mean much for users now, but it expands the reach of Windows and makes it easier for developers to create applications that run on all versions of Windows whether it is mobile, desktop or XBox. The new virtual desktops feature in Windows 10, called Task View has been talked about a lot, but it isn’t the only improvement to window management that you will see in Windows 10. Finally we have Continuum, an exciting new feature that allows Windows to smoothly adapt the user experience based on a device’s use as a desktop, tablet or phone. This in itself is a major selling point for Windows 10, and relies on some of the more invisible work that’s happened behind it, such as a common core for Windows running on all kinds of devices, and Universal Windows Applications.

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