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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.

Edge's Reading Mode, which strips the unnecessary cruft out of a webpage, is a mixed bag. For a visually distracting page with ads and popups all over the place, it's nice. You can't load a page in Reading Mode without viewing the page as it was originally laid out, however, a nod to advertisers and the sites that depend on them (cough).

Edge will undoubtedly improve over time. But Chrome fans would always joke that Internet Explorer was "the browser that downloads Chrome." Right now, Edge looks to be more of the same.

Next: Apps, Part 1: Continuum and OneDrive

Continuum: Windows 10 on the go

Microsoft designed Windows 8 with a mind toward tablets and desktops alike. Because Windows 10 is designed to function primarily in a desktop mode, it needs its own answer for tablets: Continuum.

When a tablet like a Surface (I used a Surface Pro 2 for testing) is undocked, Windows 10 by default will ask whether you want to put the system into tablet mode. The Start menu suddenly looks more like its Windows 8 ancestor: The live tiles increase in size, and Windows buries the text-based left-hand menu behind a menu icon at upper right.

If you happen to be within the Desktop, your app shortcuts will disappear, leaving only the Cortana icon, the Task View icon, and what looks like a back-arrow (and is). It's a bit disconcerting, but your apps are still there--just hidden from view until resurfaced by the Task View icon.

I noticed a few bugs. While the software-based keyboard would pop up in Edge, Word, and other apps, I inexplicably couldn't type in either Atlassian's HipChat or Cortana. Nor could I launch apps from Cortana, as I could in desktop mode. I do like how the software keyboard auto-suggests words, however, and wish there were a way to enable that feature when using the hardware keyboard.

I'd also prefer to see something, well, more like the Windows 8 Metro apps when Continuum is enabled in an undocked mode. Apps like Paint still require me to fat-finger through menus to force them to work.

OneDrive, the app that isn't

Beginning with Windows 8, Microsoft launched the concept of OneDrive, or storing your documents in the cloud (using a decidedly ugly Metro app, no less). With Windows 10, OneDrive now is tightly woven into the operating system, showing up as just another folder inside File Explorer. You can even treat it as a shareable drive. One feature has disappeared, though: the confusing "placeholder" files that resided on your PC as a timesaving device. And that's good.

But while OneDrive has been assimilated into the rest of Windows 10, many other apps remain as standalone applications.

 

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