We may as well refer to Windows 10 as a date, or an hour, as much as an operating system. It's a moment in time. A month from now, it will have changed, evolved, improved. But right now? Microsoft has shipped an operating system that was meticulously planned and executed with panache, but whose coat of fresh paint hides some sticks and baling wire.
Windows 10 will keep evolving
Note that this review is not, and will never be, the review of the final version of Windows 10. Microsoft may have frozen its core operating system in advance of the July 29 launch, but the OS and its apps will be updated continually over their lifespan--which, in the case of Windows 10 itself, will be 10 years. We've received multiple assurances, however, that what we're reviewing will be what existing Windows users will begin to receive starting July 29 (remember, the rollout will be in phases), and what will be installed on new PCs from a vendor like Lenovo or Dell. We'll revisit this review on launch day, just to be sure.
Let's emphasize this--there is an incredible amount of activity going on right now. Microsoft is busy fixing bugs, hour by hour. Several issues which we noticed in a draft of this review were resolved by the time the final draft was edited. We expect this will continue.
Windows 10 is designed to welcome most Windows users. It will be a free upgrade for users of both Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1, assuming they switch within a year's time. Don't dilly-dally; it's worth it.
Several innovations sell Windows 10 by themselves. The new Start menu blends Windows 7 and Windows 8 for maximum comfort. Cortana, Microsoft's digital assistant, serves up relevant information. A new set of reminders and updates slide in from the side, then vanish. A few quietly powerful apps, like Photos, show you the potential of Microsoft's new "Universal" mission. Task View, a somewhat obscure feature that creates virtual desktops, could become a sleeper hit beyond the power users for whom it's intended.
In an ideal world, Windows 10 could have baked a little longer. Quite a bit of the operating system ably demonstrates the care Microsoft took to listen to users and make substantive improvements. The UI designers also seem to have gone out of their way to make Windows 10 less in-your-face than Windows 8 was, though arguably it's swung a bit too far in the direction of blah. But then there's the ragged Edge browser. It could use a livelier palette, but its real flaws are functional. Microsoft promised Edge would be our browser for the modern web, and it's not--at least, not yet.
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