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Windows 10 Vs. Windows 8.1 - What's New and Should You Upgrade?

Windows 10 Vs. Windows 8.1 - What's New and Should You Upgrade?

The stage is all set for the arrival of Windows 10. But in the midst of all the hype, will the newest Windows OS be able to live up to all the expectations? Read on to find out...
Satyajeet Vispute
Release Date
The license for the Technical Preview version of Windows 10 will run out on 15th April 2015. Microsoft has announced that a complete, final version of Windows 10 will be available in late 2015.
No two Windows systems are alike! So while Windows 7 was simple, plain, and reliable, Windows 8 and its subsequent version 8.1 turned out to be just the opposite. They did bring along the promise of what Microsoft had in store for its customers in the future, but on the counts of simplicity and reliability, they clearly fell short. Perhaps that is the reason why even more than two years after Windows 8 was first released, Windows 7 still dominates the consumer market.

However, Microsoft plans to change all that in 2015, with their highly anticipated latest offering of operating system for personal computers - Windows 10. Currently in the public beta testing stage, Windows 10 is already being touted as the best of Microsoft yet. Initial users have claimed that it is a Windows 7-Windows 8 hybrid, which comprises the best of both. In the following lines, we shall check out what's new in the latest from Microsoft's stables, and whether it can truly right all that was done wrongly by its predecessor.

Windows 10 vs. Windows 8.1: What's New?
1) Back to the Start Button
In Windows 8 and 8.1, Microsoft seemingly were too focused on introducing its customers to the newly developed Live Tiles, and so somehow they 'forgot' to add the 'Start' button to their desktop interface. This turned out to be a fatal omission!

Considering the overwhelming complaints from users, it certainly is wise of Microsoft to have reverted back to it in Windows 10. But that isn't all that there is to it. As a sort of repentance for their original mistake, Microsoft will be bringing back a super-loaded 'Start' button that will allow you to access apps, run content searches, and also pin contacts, apps, and websites onto it.

2) A Continuum of Touch
When we first laid eyes on Windows 8, it became apparent that Microsoft was aiming towards making it a 'touch-oriented' OS. In their eagerness, however, they went overboard with the new changes. The result was that the new OS did not fit well on traditional machines having a keyboard and mouse as their primary input forms. This was one of the reasons why Windows 8/8.1 wasn't as successful as Windows 7.

With Windows 10, however, Microsoft seems to have learned their lesson. They have introduced 'Continuum', which is a feature that allows this OS to adapt to the hardware it is installed on. It can seamlessly convert two-in-one devices from touch to the more traditional mouse and keyboard . Typically, when peripherals like a keyboard or mouse are connected, the UI switches to the 'desktop mode' similar to that of Windows 7. When they are disconnected, it changes to a Windows 8 style tiled mode, which is better for use in touchscreens.

3) Say 'Halo' to Cortana
Cortana, Microsoft's digital personal assistant, named after the artificial intelligence character in the 'Halo' video game series, will come preloaded with Windows 10. It can set reminders, recognize natural voice, answer questions using information from Bing, among many other things. Microsoft claims that it will be able to provide region-specific answers to questions that the users ask it.

4) Spartan: The Warrior Web Browser
Internet Explorer might be one of the most prevalent web browsers in the world today, but it cannot use extensions, which is quickly becoming a part and parcel of modern-day net browsing. Hence, in order to keep up with times, Windows 10 will include the new extension-friendly Spartan browser.

It comprises four key features-

1) A minimalistic (Spartan) and clean user interface.
2) Ability to annotate any web page with the help of input from a finger, stylus, or keyboard.
3) A reading mode.
4) Integration with the Corona voice assistant.

Clearly, Spartan is a competent web browser that has been brought in by Microsoft to bring the war to its competition.

5) A Window into Your Phone
A specialized version of Windows 10 will also be available for smartphones. It will feature new and improved Office and Outlook applications, which will provide all the features of their PC counterparts. Along with this, Windows 10 for mobiles will also have an integrated messaging hub for Skype, texts, and other online messaging services.

6) Multiple Desktops: A Bite of Apple
Taking inspiration from Apple OS X, Microsoft has finally decided to introduce the feature of running multiple virtual desktops in Windows 10. This will come as a big boon for the more advanced users, as it will allow them to work on multiple projects simultaneously. It will also help working professionals and businessmen in keeping their personal and work environment separated.

7) Unified App Store
With the introduction of Windows 10, developers will now be able to create applications that can run on all Windows devices, right from mobiles to computers having a variety of display sizes.

Along with this, Microsoft has also said that it will allow bulk purchases of applications based on the existing identities of organizations, enabling them to reuse their licenses.

Large enterprises will be able to create their own personalized application store for their employees, with the ability to host select public applications alongside the in-house ones.

8) Customizable Tiles
The Live Tile app in Windows 8/8.1 could not be controlled like regular Windows programs. To resolve this issue, Windows 10 introduced the Universal apps feature, which will frame the tiles in the same window as regular programs, allowing you to resize, move, maximize, minimize, and close them.

9) More Frequent Security Updates
It has been announced that, in Windows 10, critical security updates will be delivered to users on a monthly basis. Consumers will be able to avail these updates as soon as they are ready via the Windows Update feature. Enterprises, on the other hand, will be able to select the apps that are critical for their businesses, and obtain a fast-paced update cycle.

10) Mesmerizing Multitasking
Windows 10 will feature a quadrant layout, which will enable you to snap up 4 similar windows or similar applications to the four corners of the desktop, allowing them to be viewed and worked on simultaneously. Also, the feature Snap Assist will make intelligent suggestions to fill out the available screen space every time.

A 'Task View' button on the task-bar will further encourage multitasking, by allowing you to set up different virtual desktops for work, home, etc., and letting you easily switch between them. Along with this, the familiar Alt+Tab shortcut from Windows 8/8.1 will still be available for quickly accessing and cycling through the open applications.

11) A New Benchmark of Performance
While it's only the beta copy of Windows 10 that is currently available for testing, initial results have shown, though not groundbreaking, but a decent amount of improvement in overall speed and performance can be expected from it.

For starters, Windows 10, similar to Windows 8.1, uses only 17% of memory, as opposed to 20% by Windows 7. This frees up 3% of memory, which can be used for gaming and other memory-intensive tasks and programs.

The beta copy has also performed well in many of the bench-marking tests, including AIDA64 Cache & Memory Benchmark, CPU Queen, PCMark 8 Home tests, SkyDiver test, etc. And while Windows 8.1 showed marginally better gaming performance, with Direct X 12 slated for release, Windows 10 ought to be able to outperform it.

12) Better Command on the Command Prompt
For advanced users, Windows 10 will include the 'copy and paste' feature in its Command Prompt directly via the Ctrl+V shortcut, which should prove to be very helpful when inputting large commands into it.

13) Control from the Cloud
Built into the latest offering from Microsoft will be the feature of mobile device management (MDM), which should make the task of managing the different Windows devices from the cloud a lot easier.

14) Windows 10 Pricing
Microsoft has announced that the Windows 10 download will be available free of cost for existing Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users. The pricing scheme and price after that has not been declared, though there are predictions that Microsoft will revert to their traditional one-time-only license-fee model. Microsoft has also confirmed that Windows 10 users will be eligible for a life-time of free updates.

Thus, Windows 10 clearly shows a lot of promise, and though it might not be worlds apart from the previous Windows versions in terms of performance, it is still quite refreshing to see that Microsoft has kept their user's interests foremost this time.

As far as the question of upgrading from Windows 8/8.1 to Windows 10 goes, our opinion would be 'yes', but maybe not immediately. The current beta version is good for testing purposes, but its potential as a full-fledged OS is yet to be ascertained. Hence, we recommend that you wait till the final release of Windows 10 later this year, as it is quite in the cards that it will be all that you had hoped for, and maybe even more.