Windows 10 Start MenuIf you’ve been anxiously awaiting Windows 9, you’re in for a long wait. But Windows 10 will be coming next year!

You see, the official explanation is apparently that, “7 8 9” – 7 ate 9 – so Microsoft will be going straight to Windows 10. Isn’t that cute? No, because Windows 8 still sucks.

Furthermore, instead of releasing Windows 10 in April 2015, we now apparently have to wait until the end of next year. Because, ya know, taking Windows 8 and making it not suck takes way, way longer than making that much-hated “Start Screen” in Windows 8.x.

You may recall me ranting about why I left Win 8 and switched back to Windows 7.

So, the question on everybody’s mind is: Will the next version of Windows fix everything wrong with Windows 8?

Back in an earlier post entitled Why the PC is Not Dead, and Why I Ditched Windows 8, I remarked:

In the meantime, Microsoft decided that since their Windows Phone interface is really well-done (for a smartphone), they’d just unify the experience across ALL devices, including PCs, and thus was born the Windows 8 Start Screen. This is quite possibly the most asinine thing they’ve ever done. […]

So, M$ took a great UI for Windows Phone, wrapped it in shite infrastructure, released it to the world way too late, and then decided to “unify” the whole “Windows Experience” in a vain attempt to…. to what? I don’t even know. What WERE they thinking? Better yet, were they thinking at all??

And so, I obliterated Windows 8 from my puter, and went back to Windows 7. I’ve never been happier. […]

In the meantime, dear Tech Industry, please return to reality. It’s a little blue planet called Earth, and we have all kinds of nice things like hotdogs and cookies and cute furry little kitties and people who want their lives to be made easier – not more difficult.

In fact, most people had the same response to Windows 8 that I did:

Windows Hate

Windows Hate

The annoying things about Windows 8 unfortunately outweighed the under-the-hood improvements over Win 7, which was rather unfortunate. For example, startup and shutdown on Win 8 were always much faster than in Win 7, which I liked. That part was well done.

Anyway, as you’ve probably heard, the Windows Technical Preview has been released for anyone who dares to install and play around with it. This is a very early version of what will become Windows 10 – again, to be officially released in the year 2316, if we’re lucky.

In all fairness, Windows 8.1 did bring back the Start Button, but not the Start Menu. I think M$ thought that if they just threw people a few crumbs, they’d be happy. They were wrong. Windows 8 usage seems to be declining as people avoid it like the plague.

So, Microsoft finally figured out that instead of going on a vacation from reality for most of the year, they’ll actually have to pay attention to what their customers are saying, and do some real work. They fired a lot of people, got a new CEO, and rearranged their internal structure a bit. Now, they’ve released the early preview of Win 10.

Okay, that’s nice, but what has actually changed that you or I would care about?

So far, enough has changed that I’m actually considering being slightly optimistic about the next version of Windows! Shocking, yes?

A lot of folks are reporting all the miniscule details about all the ways that Win 10 is different than Win 8. Well, that’s cool and even useful, but most people will never notice. So, the following is Scottie’s List of Things Win 10 Does Differently that People Actually Care About:

1. The Start Menu is back. Not just sort of  back, but actually back-back. No, really.

How back is the Start Menu? Behold:

Windows 10 Start Menu
Holy shit! That looks like a REAL Start Menu! And it is. It evens works the same as in Windows 7, with a few changes. Of course, those “Live Tiles” that most people hate aren’t going anywhere.

You see, when Microsoft tells you what the future is, and ya’ll don’t agree with them, they just ignore you because they’re smarter than you. I mean, it’s not like you have a choice of what OS you use, and it’s not like you’re paying them for a product and therefore they should make it work like you want it to. And it’s not like Windows Phone is an abysmal failure as compared to Google’s Android platform... So, obviously, the natural course of action would be to use the Windows Phone-y interface in a desktop OS, and to stick with it no matter the outcome. Wait… WHAT?!

That said, you CAN actually remove all the tiles if you want, rearrange them, pin them, sit on them, cuss at them, and do pretty much anything else you can think of. Microsoft really, really wants you to like their “ingenious” Live Tiles… even though the majority have already spoken by buying primarily Android-based phones and tablets. Go figure.

But still, the “new” Start Menu is progress. And it’s not finished yet.

2. Drop shadows on windows are back!

Oh, sweet mother of Caesar, you are a sight for sore eyes, Glorious Drop Shadows!

Windows 10 Drop ShadowsAnd here we can see the “not-flatness” between two open windows:

Windows 10 Drop Shadows - 2
Notice that the drop shadow effect is very visible between 2 lightly-colored windows, but not so noticeable around a window and the colored desktop background. Let’s just say that in day-to-day use, it works well.

3. General look and feel

I’m not sure how much different the window animations are than those in Windows 8, but I nonetheless noticed that they’re pretty nice. I guess you might say they “feel premium”. Yeah, I know, that’s totally subjective, but at least MS is paying attention to some details. And if they are  exactly the same as in Windows 8 (I don’t have Win 8 any more to test), then at least the animations “work” better with the revised look… IMO.

At the very least, I suppose you could say that the whole OS is slicker and smoother somehow, but I can’t quite put my finger on exactly what it is. That’s a good thing, because I was expecting more crap – and what I got was a refreshing “Aaah!” moment.

4. Multiple Desktops FINALLY come to Windows

Try not to have a heart attack. Yes, it’s true. The feature is activated by using Win-Tab, which means no more Aero Sassy Window Flippy-Do Thingy… and then somebody sneezed.

5. Enhanced Command Prompt

Well, for command line commandos, this one is a welcome addition. You can even do Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V copy and paste. The only question I have is: Why the hell did it take them this long to add that in?

Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that they know they pissed off a lot of users with Win 8, and they’re really, really trying to make everyone happy with Windows 10. That would also be what I call progress.

The Stunning Conclusion

So, that’s that. There are a few other changes and improvements, but at this point, the Technical Preview is probably on the order of a Super-Beta. Traditionally, the release stage goes something like:

  1. Beta (limited availability)
  2. Release Candidate (limited availability)
  3. Public release

They’re not calling this any of the above – it’s a “Technical Preview”. But, since the rumor mill has it that we won’t be seeing the final product until about 1 year from now, this anybody-can-install it “Preview” is most certainly nowhere near finished. And the fact that Microsoft has chosen to make what is basically a Beta version so widely available is an indication of how royally they screwed up with Windows 8 – and they know it. Again, I’d cautiously call that progress.

So far, the Windows (10) Technical Preview is pretty stable, but it’s definitely not ready for prime time. So, if you want to play around with it, stick it on a spare puter.

We’ll see what happens next.

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