Something I found quite surprising is that over 20 years after its first debut, the start menu and taskbar are features people love and want to keep. As Satya Nadella said “we want users to love Windows.” If you compare Windows 10 and Windows 95, the desktop looks almost identical. Of course, I’m ignoring 20 years of innovation by drawing that comparison.
The evolution of the start menu. Windows 95 start menu (top), courtesy firealarms.redbat.ca and Windows 10 start menu (bottom), courtesy my laptop
Of course, Windows 10 has an incomprehensible amount of improvements from 95, but even from Windows 8 there’s quite a good amount of new and useful features.
One feature I find very handy is the virtual desktops. Yes, I am aware that Apple and Linux users have had this feature for ages and Microsoft is just playing catchup, but it’s implemented and designed really well. It has keyboard shortcuts (which can be found here) and allows for windows to be dragged between desktops. I doubt that it properly supports trackpad gestures, but I haven’t been able to test that. One nifty use is for virtual machines, for example you could have Windows 10 on the left desktop and Windows XP on the right desktop. You could also use it instead of user accounts, just create a new desktop for your kid to use, then they can’t mess up your work (unless they’re too smart).
The universal notifications and action centre is another feature added that Mac and Linux users have had for a while. The side by side comparison below shows just how similar they are. Finally, app notifications don’t disappear into the unreachable aether after 3 seconds. If I get an email, problem with drivers or a calendar event they all come up on the bottom right (sadly, you can’t change the position without also changing the position of the taskbar). I say all, when in fact it sadly is not the case. Many desktop apps, like Evernote still use their own bespoke notifications that completely ignore the action centre. I can only hope that in time more developers make use of features like this in Windows 10.