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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.

One exception to these is Microsoft's People app, which I've never quite understood. People filters information like a traditional Rolodex: name, phone number, email, et cetera. I'm just not sure how many people use People as their jumping-off point for reaching out. If I want to email someone, I open Mail or Outlook and enter my contact's name. Ditto for my phone, Facebook, or Twitter. People's sort of the appendix of Windows past, and I probably wouldn't miss it if Microsoft's engineers removed it.

Microsoft also includes some other somewhat insignificant apps within Windows 10: Alarms & Clock, for example, does nothing that your watch or phone (or Outlook) doesn't already do--although it can pop up a visual alert at a given time, too. In the case of the Calculator app, the drab appearance hides several useful calculators and converters. For basic arithmetic, however, remember that you can also ask Cortana.

I probably should have listed Microsoft's Solitaire Collection among the best apps Windows 10 offers. Just look at it (below): It's gorgeous, with design elements I would have loved to see influence other apps within Windows 10.  And it's not just one game--it's a bunch. Minesweeper's there, for example--not only is a version of the classic game included, but so is a new derivative, Treasure Hunt. There are several Solitaire variations, Mahjong, Sudoku, slots, and bingo. Eventually, there will be leaderboards, Microsoft promises. (Note that the app can still kick you out to the Microsoft Store to download apps, however. One question: why does a game like Mahjong take almost 250 megabytes?

Microsoft doesn't actually include a Skype app in Windows 10. Weirdly, there's a Get Skype app that's simply a "hey, click this link to get Skype" Web page. Finally, for those who wish to use Windows 10 to connect to a 3D printer, there's the 3D Builder app, which we didn't test.

Finally: Our review verdict, and what's next for Windows 10

Windows 10 charts a better course

Microsoft's customers have grown used to floating lazily from one Windows release to the next...Windows 95, 98, XP...rousing as they bumped through the rapids of Windows Vista, then relaxing again as Windows 7 flowed gently ahead for several years. Then-- SPLASH!--as Windows 8 landed, customers sputtered and swore. Some jumped ship. Since then, everything that Microsoft has done has been designed to lure customers back into that comfortable, productive world that Windows established.

For me, that's been achieved. Windows 10 feels like Windows; I made the mental shift from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 during the weeks I've spent with it as a Windows Insider. That was a very clever tactic, by the way, to encourage users to overcome their unfamiliarity with the OS as beta testers.

 

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