Did the PC market collapse because Windows 8 sucked, or did Windows 8 suck because Microsoft overcompensated for the PC market's collapse? It's a bit of a chicken-or-the-egg scenario, but one thing's certain: Windows 8 sucked.
Windows 10, on the other hand, absolutely rocks--especially when compared to its bitterly disappointing predecessor. It's nothing less than a refined blend (to steal a term from ol' Stevie B) of the best parts of Windows 7 and Windows 8. Sure, Windows 10 still drags over the "Windows apps and services" themes that Microsoft started pounding home in Windows 8, but it does so in a way that actually respects the legacy the traditional desktop earned over the years.
How do I love thee, Windows 10? Let me count the ways you're vastly improved over Windows 8.
1. The Start menu is back
Sure, Windows 10's Start menu isn't quite the one you're used to, acting instead like a mash-up of Windows 7's Start menu with Windows 8's Start screen, replete with Live Tiles and Windows Store apps. My colleague Mark Hachman nailed it on the head in his Windows 10 pre-review when he said to consider Windows 10's Start menu more as a dashboard than a launching pad.
Either way, the Start menu's back. And if you don't dig all the Live Tiles, it's easy to unpin them and stock the Start menu with shortcuts to traditional desktop software.
2. Windows Store apps mime desktop programs
But the Start menu's absence was only one of Windows 8's great failings. The design of Windows Store apps was another.
These monstrosities tossed everything glorious about desktop computing to the curb to splay themselves upon the altar of touch-friendliness. When opened, Windows 8's apps expanded to fill the whole screen, engulfing even the taskbar. Worse, they consumed all that space with spectacular inefficiency, leaving tremendous amounts of unutilized space in favor of big, empty blocks that were fine for fingers, but resulted in a dearth of information density and a vast amount of superfluous scrolling with a mouse.
Not in Windows 10.
In Windows 10, Microsoft shoved those Windows Store apps into proper, moveable, resizable desktop windows, which enables you to integrate them into your workflow far more seamlessly. Gone are the awful hidden Charms bar controls, replaced by a proper menu bar, and thanks to their scaling interface the newly "universal" Windows apps that ship with the system now feel much more natural on the desktop.
I banished Windows Store apps from my Windows 8 workflow entirely, but happily use their Windows 10 counterparts daily. The small changes add up to a huge improvement. Windows are coming back to Windows, folks.
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