The NeoSmart Files

Windows 10 Technical Preview: A first look at a Metro-free Windows

Yesterday, Microsoft somewhat unexpectedly made available1 a preview of the next version of Windows – official Windows 10 and codenamed Windows “Threshold” – on its website for immediate download to the general public.

Today, we take a quick look at some of changes and new features that have made their way into Windows 10. As various “leaks” from within Microsoft had made clear, the biggest changes are going to be in the areas of UX and UI, as Windows is toned-down to become less alien for its long-term userbase that has clung on to Windows 7 for dear life, looking in utmost horror at the completely foreign landscape that is the Windows 8 metro desktop. Microsoft had previously made some steps to assuage these fears and boost adoption of Windows 8 with Windows 8.1, going so far as to make it possible to (finally!) disable the metro desktop on startup but refusing to bring back the start menu. Well, don’t let it be said that people can’t make a stand by boycotting with their wallet – the lackluster adoption of Windows 8 and then Windows 8.1 has thoroughly convinced Microsoft (and its new head, Satya Nadella) to release a somewhat more-sane Windows.

Without any further ado, we’ll start with a gallery of screenshots taken from the new Tech Preview:

There are a lot of mixed signals here, and some behavior we can only hope is left over from Windows 8 and will see its way out at some point during the remainder of the beta stage. It’s a little hard to summarize in text, so here are some bullet point ideas/notes about the new build:

These are just some first thoughts on Windows 10, expect more as we spend more time with it and see how it feels for daily use. It’s honestly not too bad, but certainly needs some TLC from the guys at the “making things look sane and pretty and not overwhelming” department. It’s certainly nowhere near as foreign as Windows 8, feels pretty snappy, and actually resembles what one would expect from a successor to Windows 7. If it just gives us all the under-the-hood improvements Windows 8 brought without the hideous UI and the horrid UX nightmare, we’ll be happy.

Stay in tune for under-the-hood updates. We’re anxious to delve deeper into the new command prompt, changes to ReFS and Storage Spaces, new WIN32 APIs in Windows 10, and more.

Psst: can you keep a secret? We’ll be posting about the new icons in Windows 10 soon. We’ll tell you in advance: they’re pretty! (but alas, inconsistent, but what’s new in the land of Windows where consistency is considered a baking term only?)

  1. The release yesterday of the Windows “Threshold” Technical Preview itself was not unexpected, but the sudden springing of the entire Windows 10 affair on the tech community this week most certainly was! ↩︎