After some struggles with a progressively degrading Windows tablet hacked to run Ubuntu, the Acer Iconia w500, I decided to take a chance on the Windows 10 Technical Preview, the free-to-try advance look at the latest iteration of Microsoft’s PC (and now phone) OS. Through the Windows Insider Program, thanks to which “you can help build Windows 10 alongside PC experts,” I downloaded the latest build (EN-US_9926), burned it into an ISO disc, and installed it quickly and with very little trouble. In fact, even at this flaky stage, Windows 10 boots up and runs far faster than Windows 7, Windows 8, and even Ubuntu.
The Windows 10 “improved Start menu,” where Microsoft has admitted defeat and allowed users to go back to a menu-based desktop interface, without the push to a tiles-based full-screen experience in Windows 8, comes close to achieving the best of both worlds, with a resizable Start menu that can be expanded to a full screen of tiles. There are still some rougher edges at this stage, though, including the beta version of the Windows Store, which so far at least I haven’t been able to get working. That means that favorite productivity programs, including Office, are still not on the system so far. Refresh and Update functions also don’t seem to be working well. On the other hand, third party apps from the Internet, including Chrome, download and install quite comfortably, which is just as well if, like me, you’re Google-centric and reliant on the Chrome browser and its integrated apps.
For me, one huge benefit of Windows 10 is that the handwriting recognition already brought in with Windows 8 works smoothly and fully as part of the Windows 10 onscreen keyboard. Speed and quality of recognition are comparable with anything brought to the various tablet ecosystems so far, and this might even bring me back to Windows as my preferred writing platform.
For a more detailed Windows 10 review, see here. Meantime, a while back, I asked if the advent of ultra-cheap Windows tablets and other devices might change the current OS/platform game in Microsoft’s favor. After trying Windows 10, I feel even more that Microsoft has finally got it right-er. This feels like an OS that offers all the robustness and versatility of the traditional desktop platform, while adding the usability and form factor benefits of mobile devices and tablets. That’s getting towards pretty ideal.