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Review: New Windows 10 version still can't beat Windows 7

Woody Leonhard | Nov. 13, 2015
Microsoft’s 'Fall Update' promised to put the finishing touches on Windows 10 -- it doesn’t.

We should know better in a few weeks.

Usability improvements

Like the RTM version, the new version 1511 is remarkably easy to work with for mouse and keyboard users accustomed to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. For touch types, Win10 version 1511 still doesn’t match Windows 8.1, but it’s coming close. Version 1511, for example, introduces a new gesture in Task View that lets you swipe down to close an app. A new option lets you simultaneously resize side-by-side windows in version 1511: Start > Settings > System > Multitasking, enable “When I resize a snapped window, simultaneously resize any adjacent snapped window.”

Colored title bars make an appearance in version 1511 (Settings > Personalization > Colors, turn on “Show color on Start, taskbar, action center, and title bar”). You’ll find other cosmetic changes in right-click context menus and icons.

windows 10 1511
Figure 1: Win10 version 1511 adds four-wide blocks of tiles and, alas, advertising for Suggested apps.

The Start menu is still disappointing, as there's little you can do to customize it. Worse, Microsoft has started its long-anticipated advertising in the form of Suggested apps (see Minesweeper at far left in Figure 1). On the right, you now have the choice of making the groups of tiles either three or four wide. Fortunately, both Start10 and Classic Shell replacements work fine in Win10 version 1511.

The old bug where Start started lopping off more than 512 apps has been fixed, replaced by a more distant limit of 2,048 tiles or apps before Start goes bananas.

Microsoft claims Win10 version 1511 does a better job of maintaining fidelity on high-resolution monitors. Granted, “high resolution” is a bit of a misnomer in a world where 4K is becoming common, even on small monitors. As Serdar Yegulalp explained last July:

Windows 10 does include a way to manually specify the scaling level for a given display. However, such scaling only works properly for applications that are aware of it -- and even then it has limitations.

Try running Microsoft’s own Hyper-V on a high-resolution screen. As of this writing, we haven’t seen the details, but anecdotal evidence suggests that resolution scaling is better in Win10 version 1511.

On the downside, Win10 version 1511 takes it upon itself to change the Windows default printer every time you manually switch printers. You can eliminate this annoyance by going to Start > Settings > Devices > Printers & Scanners, and sliding the “Let Windows manage my default printer setting” to Off.

Feature enhancements

Many of the built-in features in Windows 10 RTM have received some help in the new version 1511. The changes aren’t as extensive as many of us had hoped, but they’re noteworthy. It remains to be seen if Microsoft will grace us with minor “Windows as a Service” upgrades before the next big bump in Windows 10 arrives in the coming year.

 

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