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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.

Oh, and why in the world isn't the music equalizer linked within the app? Can I rip a CD using Windows 10? Music offers just the basics. Microsoft can do better.

Maps: so close to great

Some of Microsoft's offerings, such as Music, arguably work best as dedicated apps. Others, such as Maps, should probably be passed over in favor of a website, at least on a Windows 10 PC.

Maps is a Universal app that spans both desktop PCs and phones, and is downright elegant to boot. The black motif of the app presents the maps and Streetside street-view images to best effect. 

But the app lacks depth. You can view a map in either an aerial or live traffic view, and chart directions from place to place. But directions aren't sent to your phone, as if it were OK for you to consult your laptop as you drive.

Other aspects of the Maps feel a little flimsy. There's no context given for locations, such as hours of operation, phone number, or nearby attractions. Once you're viewing a 3D city, there's no obvious way of backing out into a 2D view again. Unless you type in a given address, it's seemingly impossible to figure out how to trigger the Streetside view option. (My son loves to pick a random country and just roam from street to street, soaking up what life is like in, say, Belgium.) Finally, I would like the option of clicking a restaurant on the map and pulling up a sidebar with contextual information.

Microsoft offers all this--on its Bing Maps Web site (or Google Maps, if you're so inclined). You may as well visit there first.

Movies & TV: Microsoft mails it in

Like Music, the Movies & TV app is spare to the point of unbelievability. At first launch, there's very little beyond four words on the left-hand rail: Movies, TV, Videos, and Downloads. The latter is populated only if something is being downloaded in the background. Otherwise, both TV and video are populated only by content you've purchased from Microsoft, or from ripped videos you own (right?). While the app lets you "check" for new videos stored in specific folders you identify, that feature then scuttles away into the underbrush of the Settings menu. If you want to add more in the future, you'll need to hunt it down.

Even more disappointingly, there's no way to organize your videos. The app doesn't allow you to edit metadata, nor can you create any new folders. That's simply basic functionality that should have been in there since the beginning.

At least the app supports a number of modern streaming codecs. Which ones? Well, Microsoft doesn't actually tell you.

 

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