3. Better "Metro" integration all around
The interface formerly known as Metro is far more seamlessly integrated in Windows 10.
Whereas the desktop and Metro felt like dueling interfaces in Windows 8--being ripped from the desktop to a full-screen Metro app when you opened a file was so damned frustrating--they're complementary in Windows 10, largely because of the Windows Store app and Start menu improvements mentioned previously. The eradication of the disastrous Charms bars is another firm step in the right direction. Now, when you have to use Metro elements while in the desktop, it occurs while in the desktop, and the benefit of that can't be overstated.
4. The right interface for the right device
But ignore all that if you're using a Windows 10 Phone or tablet, each of which uses a morphed version of Windows 10 to display an interface best suited for each screen size. Windows 10's tablet mode, in fact, looks an awful lot like Windows 8's Start screen.
Microsoft tried to sell Windows 8 as an operating system for every device, but it did so by forcing the same interface across tablets and PCs--two very different device types. Windows 10 tweaks the formula, letting a PC be a PC and a tablet be a tablet, and it's vastly better for it.
And if you've got one of those fancy two-in-one hybrid devices? Windows 10's Continuum mode has you covered. Heck, thanks to Windows 10's shared core and universal apps Windows 10 Phones can even mime proper Windows 10 PCs when connected to an external display.
5. DirectX 12
Not all of Windows 10's improvement focus on slapping a Band-Aid over Windows 8's ghastly design. Microsoft hopes to lure gamers firmly entrenched in Windows 7 over to Windows 10 with the inclusion of DirectX 12, a turbo-charged version of Windows' popular graphics API technology.
DirectX 12, like AMD's Mantle before it, allows for vastly improved CPU utilization in gaming scenarios and provides developers closer-to-the-metal access to graphics hardware. The end result: Intel and Microsoft say frame rates can increase by more than 50 percent when the same application is run in DX12 rather than DX11--or, alternatively, power draw can be halved. Wowza.
Our own early DirectX 12 testing, conducted with 3DMark's synthetic API Overhead feature test, shows that the potential performance leap with DX12 is insane--once games start being published that use the new API, of course. Look for those to land later this year.
6. Virtual desktops
Windows 8 treated the Windows desktop as just another app. Windows 10 gives you desktops and desktops and more desktops, via its new embrace of virtual desktop--a feature long beloved on Linux and OS X.
Sign up for CIO Asia eNewsletters.