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Windows 10 review: It's familiar, it's powerful, but the Edge browser falls short

Mark Hachman | July 27, 2015
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.

Photos: a powerful tool that's worth exploring

Unlike some of Microsoft's Windows 10 apps, Photos is surprisingly powerful. One of the first Universal apps Microsoft published, Photos looks like just a mosaic of photos you've shot on your camera or tablet. A recent revision in the app allows you to pull images from OneDrive.

On the left you'll find two headers: Collection and Albums. Collection is just your Camera Roll, renamed: a grab bag of photos you've shot or images you've saved, organized chronologically. (Don't be afraid to click on the monthly headers, as that will take you to a month-by-month index, terrific for finding photos of Christmases past, for example.) I also really like the option to show just one of several duplicate photos from your online collection. It's not quite a de-dupe function, but close.

Windows 10 also invites you to upload a series of related photos to the My Photos folder on Windows 10, where it will create an album for you. 

Click on a photo, and a wealth of options opens up. The Edit icon loads the editing tools: You can play with color and lighting, add effects, crop, straighten, eliminate red eye, retouch or even do it all in one fell swoop with the "enhance" button. (Note the swirly-arrow Undo and Redo options at the very top, as well as the Compare option.) Some controls are weird, though. If a radial dial appears with a number in the middle--such as Contrast, for example--move the large circular control around the outside of the circle to adjust it.

Photos doesn't have all the options of say, a Lightroom, but we'd say the app is on a par with, if not better than, Adobe Photoshop Express for Windows.

More Windows 10 apps: Music, Maps, Movies & TV, Mail & Calendar

(Groove) Music: let's jazz it up a bit

While Microsoft now shies away from using the term "Xbox" in conjunction with its Music application, the Music app remains virtually unchanged from Windows 8. It first asks you to sign in, if you haven't already, then loads your existing music catalog in a snap--far quicker than it did on Windows 8, incidentally. If you've uploaded any music into the Music folder in OneDrive it will add those songs, too, complete with metadata and album art that it can cull from the Internet. Ideally, of course, you'll already own an Xbox (sorry, Groove) Music pass, and can stream as much as you'd like.

Unfortunately, Music suffers from the same plain aesthetic noted elsewhere in this review: while the Artist and Songs index pages includes artist snapshots, the actual page where the song lives includes just two pieces of art. For music! Geez, Microsoft, my tastes are boring enough. This app badly needs biographical information, lyrics, a link to Bing Video--something. At least hero art is buried inside the "Now Playing" portion of the app. But Windows 8 did Music far better.

 

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