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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.

That's the key to making Task View work: the Ctrl+Win key flip. With a second monitor, you glance left or right. With a virtual desktop, the screen moves--not your head. You can flip back and forth quickly and efficiently.

Unfortunately, there are a few quirks.  For one thing, if you have two monitors, both monitors flip to a new desktop with the Ctrl+Win key command--even if you don't have a virtual desktop set up--which means you end up with a blank screen. That's annoying. There's also a "hard stop" at the end of the row of virtual desktops--if you keep tapping Ctrl+Win+left arrow, for example, you won't wrap around to the beginning.

In the Settings menu, you have the option of configuring your taskbar to display every app running on your Windows 10 system, or else just the apps that you've tied to that desktop. Note that even if you do choose the latter, apps that demand your attention (say from an instant messaging application) should still flash on your toolbar.

Things can get a little crazy if you start mixing and matching Alt-Tab commands and Task View. Alt-Tab creates a cloud of suggested apps to fill in the remaining space, which you can snap to the various locations via the Win+arrow key.  If you do choose to hide apps that aren't being used on the virtual desktop, you can sometimes forget and "lose" them.

Don't be intimidated, though. There's absolutely nothing requiring you to use Task View. It's just an advanced tool that's there if you want.

Next: Still waiting for the Edge browser Microsoft promised

The Edge browser isn't fully baked

Windows 10 also introduces Microsoft Edge, a browser that Microsoft has touted as the answer to the demands of the modern Web.

I have very mixed feelings about Edge, both aesthetically and functionally. Part of the issue, for me, is that Edge doesn't feel fully finished. And it's not, clearly, as support for Firefox-style extensions won't arrive until later this fall. That means Edge has some breathing room, though, as Microsoft can either tweak its functionality or let third-party developers step in. 

To begin with, Edge's UI looks spartan even compared to Chrome. When you start Edge or load a new tab, you have a choice of loading a bare search bar, or a bar accompanied by a few icons of frequently-accessed pages, or a bar surrounded by content from MSN. There's something industrial and lifeless about it all. Even switching over to the "dark theme," accessible via the Settings menu, doesn't do it for me.  Heck, there's no default homepage (or button) unless you dive down deep into the advanced Settings menu and add one. 

 

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