January 21st was an amazing day for many technology enthusiasts – Microsoft held their Windows 10: The next chapter event, where they spoke of more details with regards to the Windows 10 Operating System, set to release later this year, and an unexpected announcement of two technologies they have been working on – The Microsoft Surface Hub and HoloLens (The HoloLens got me extremely excited). Microsoft has published a blog post on all that was covered in the event.

A short summary of things that were mentioned at the event were:

  • Microsoft Windows 10 will be a free upgrade, from Windows 7, 8 / 8.1 should you upgrade within a year from the official launch date, and that they will keep it updated for the lifetime of the device.
  • Apps will be universal across all platforms – be it Windows, Windows Phone, Xbox
  • Microsoft’s digital assistant, Cortana, now makes its way to Windows 10, and it will customized for PC.
  • Project Spartan is the new web browser, in the works, for Windows 10.
  • Microsoft announces two exciting technologies:
    • Microsoft Surface Hub – This aims to take group computing to a new level
    • Microsoft HoloLens – This introduces the greatness of Holographic computing.

I must say, I am really loving the way Microsoft is going with this one – I love how Microsoft customers are part of the formation of the next edition of Windows, this is seen through Windows 10 builds being released for customers to test, report issues and suggestions to Microsoft. When I heard build 9926 was out, I stopped my uTorrent, closed Origin, and commenced 6 hours of downloading this version of Windows 10 Technical Preview.

My Test Drive of Windows 10 Technical Preview

Installing Windows 10 was no different to installing Windows 8.1, simply run the setup, select the type of upgrade you want to do, view a report, and then start upgrading! I upgraded from Windows 7 Home Premium 64-Bit to Windows 10 Technical Preview. The upgrade process took about an hour in its entirety.

One thing that I found to be quite nice, although it probably is a small thing to be pleased with, is that my antivirus software (I use Avast!), was not disabled due to some compatibility issue – now I do not have to worry about waiting on Avast to put out a new version of its software.

Windows 10 is fast, quite stable for an early beta software, and I cannot wait to see how stable the final version will be. With all of this, my testing of Windows 10 begins!

Gaming Performance

An issue which I had experienced with an earlier build of Windows 10 Technical Preview was that games didn’t run so well – this meant games would lag, or they would have choppy sound. I had tried upgrading the driver to the Windows 8.1 driver, and that still didn’t solve the issue. After testing out gaming performance with the new build of Windows 10 Technical Preview, I am happy to know that my games run as smooth as Windows 7 – I did not experience that lag or that choppy sound I got with the earlier build of Windows 10.

The Action Center

I really love the action center Microsoft has decided to add into Windows 10. Notifications are grouped according to the application they come from and they also take on a really nice, simple layout and structure. Notifications you can expect to see are from emails and many other kinds of applications.

The action center has other options you can make use of, such as switching to tablet mode, or turning off your Wi-Fi (should you need to be in airplane mode), customizing display settings, and much more!

Only issue I have had with the action center is notifications popping up from last my system was active – If I installed an app before I shutdown my PC, that notification will show up again! It gets annoying at times.

This is the notification center on my PC
This is the notification center on my PC

Cortana!

I was pleased to hear Cortana would be making her way on PC. I had no earlier experience to using Cortana, I do not own a Windows Phone device as of yet. Cortana had been present on the Windows Phone platform (Windows Phone 8.1), for the many Windows Phone customers to use.

It was mentioned at the conference that Microsoft did not just want to take Cortana from the phone, and transfer her accross to the PC environment – Microsoft wants to offer PC users a customized experience of Cortana, specifically made for PC, which all sounds good.

I had to sign into my Microsoft account to start using Cortana – I would get the “Cortana is not available in your market” message. When it was time to start using Cortana, I was really excited and I started off by asking Cortana random questions such as what she thinks of certain celebrities or figures. I even asked her for something I do not know and she really gave me something I did not know. I had fun with Cortana, and I hope Microsoft will be giving Cortana more functionality – I wanted to get her to open applications on my computer and that didn’t work, she would tell me she cannot do that now, and that I must check back for future updates.

 Improved Start Menu

Another, vital, aspect of Windows 10 Technical Preview (Build 9926) I have welcomed with warm arms, is the improved start menu. The earlier build had a start menu, but this would stretch across the screen as your pinned apps grew. This was a problem and made the start menu look messy. I have added a lot of apps on my start menu, and I am glad it does not stretch across the screen.

Users are also given the option to view their start menu, in full screen.

Overall Impression

I love the way Microsoft is going with building the next generation of computing, and this time, asking its customers to help out with the building process. The Microsoft HoloLens and SurfaceHub was a total surprise for me – I did not expect this from Microsoft.

I know I will definitely be upgrading to Windows 10 the moment it releases commercially.