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Review: Windows 10 Insider Preview -- a nearly finished OS

Preston Gralla | May 27, 2015
This review talks about the major changes to Windows 10 since the big January release.

If you've ever been nostalgic for the Windows 7 transparent Aero look, you'll be happy with another change Microsoft has made to the Start menu — you can now make it transparent. Go into Settings and select Personalization / Colors, and turn it on using the "Make Start, taskbar, and action center transparent" slider. Is this useful? Not really. But I'm a fan of eye candy and it looks good to me.

There's only one more minor change to the Start menu in the latest build — the Power button is now at the bottom left of the screen rather than the upper right. I've seen other reviewers complain about this. To me, that's a sign they have too much time on their hands. Upper right, bottom left; it's all the same.

New apps

One of the many disappointing things about Windows 8 was its apps, which tended to be underpowered and far less useful than those in more traditional Windows desktop applications. Rather than showcasing the power of Windows 8, they undermined it.

Things are getting better. For example, the new Windows 10 Mail and Calendar apps are both far superior to those in Windows 8. Unlike the Windows 8 versions, you can easily toggle between them by clicking the calendar icon in the Mail app or the mail icon in the Calendar app. Still, the implementation needs improvement: In Mail, the icon for switching to Calendar is on a vertical bar of icons on the left-hand side of the screen, while in Calendar the mail icon is on a horizontal bar on the lower left. More visual consistency between the two apps would make switching between them simpler. Still, they're clear improvements over the Windows 8 versions.

The Windows 8 Calendar always felt especially cluttered and klutzy to me; doing something as simple as switching to a different view (Day, Work week or Month) required calling up a menu and then making a selection. In the new app, those choices are always visible — just tap the view you want. In addition, a small view of the entire month is always visible, even when you're looking at a single day, making it easy to navigate to see your calendar for any day of the month. I never would have considered using the Windows 8 Calendar. I can see using the Windows 10 version, though.

Another advantage to the new Calendar app is that it now supports Google Calendar, something that the Windows 8 version didn't allow. You won't even have to jump through hoops to do it. Just click Settings / Accounts / Add account / Google and follow the prompts. You can also add an Exchange calendar or an iCloud calendar in this way.

 

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