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Deep-dive review: Windows 10 -- worth the wait

Preston Gralla | July 28, 2015
Finally, an operating system from Microsoft you can love.

Beneath Notebook, the Reminders icon does exactly what it says -- lets you set reminders, which can be triggered by a time or a location you visit. And the bottommost icon, Feedback, lets you provide feedback about Cortana.

Cortana is tied to your Microsoft ID, so it has the same information about you on all the Windows devices you use, including smartphones.

Overall, Cortana is still a work in progress. It does an excellent job of reaching into your PC; searching the Web; knowing your location, likes and dislikes; and delivering you information based on that. But until it can also reach into Web-based apps like Gmail, Cortana can never be a complete digital assistant.

Gaining an Edge

Another big addition to Windows is the new Edge browser, which replaces the justifiably maligned Internet Explorer. Edge is Windows 10's default browser and with it, Microsoft hopes to eventually bid farewell to IE.

Microsoft can't entirely get rid of Internet Explorer yet, though, especially because enterprises have built apps based on it. So you'll still find it in Windows 10. But unless you have to run it for compatibility reasons, don't -- because Edge is a considerable improvement.

With Edge, Microsoft focused on creating a speedy browser -- and the work has paid off. I found that it displayed Web pages extremely quickly, much faster than Internet Explorer, and equal to or possibly faster than Chrome.

To check my impression, I ran three browser speed tests using Edge, Internet Explorer and Chrome. I ran each test three times for each browser and averaged the results. Edge scored faster than Internet Explorer in all three tests and faster than Chrome in the SunSpider and Kraken tests, while losing to Chrome in the Octane test.

But even though Edge is speedy, you may encounter rendering problems with some Web pages. It won't run Google Inbox, for example. And when I ran the HTML5 test, which tests for compatibility with HTML5 standards, it lagged behind Chrome, scoring 402 out of a possible 555 points, compared to 526 for Chrome. Internet Explorer did even worse than Edge, with a score of 348.

Edge takes much of its inspiration from Chrome, dispensing with as many menus and extraneous design elements as possible. For example, it has jettisoned Internet Explorer's oversized back and forward buttons, so that the content of a Web page stands out more. Edge will also support add-ins, but that feature is not yet available, and will be included at some time later.

The browser's basics are straightforward -- there are several icons to the right of the Address Bar that offer access to a variety of features.

 

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