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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.

The Mail app, like Calendar, now has a simpler, cleaner look. Icons across its top are always available for common tasks such as replying, forwarding, deleting and flagging mail. Icons down the left let you do things such as browsing your mail folders, switching to different mail accounts, changing your settings, creating new mail and, as previously mentioned, switching to the Calendar.

Even more important: It supports POP-based email, something the Windows 8 app was incapable of doing. Also much improved are the text- and mail-formatting features, which are now Word-like and designed to allow you to do things such as insert tables into mail. That and more are available from a formatting toolbar that lets you change fonts and font attributes, change the color of text and insert tables and pictures.

Not everything worked for me. For instance, you are supposed to be able to do spell checking from the toolbar as well, but the spell check didn't actually check my spelling, and the icons for inserting a table, picture or a link were grayed-out so I couldn't use them. Presumably that will be fixed in a later build.

The app also includes new touch-based actions, including swiping left to delete a message.

The Edge browser

Internet Explorer's replacement, the new browser once called Spartan and now called Edge, has been filled out in the newest build. It shows a lot of promise, but is clearly still very much a work in progress.

The first thing I noticed was that it's clean — free from visual clutter such as Internet Explorer's oversized forward and back buttons. The Address Bar sits underneath tabs rather than beside them as with Internet Explorer, which also makes for a cleaner look. The inspiration for Edge is clearly Chrome — it's an attempt to strip away as many menus and controls as possible in order to make the content on Web pages the primary focus.

It works. I haven't regularly used Internet Explorer for years, in part because it's out of date. But based on Edge's overall visual appeal, it could eventually become my regular browser.

That being said, Edge still has a long way to go. The first issue is performance; I found it slow to load Web pages and buggy as well, sometimes closing tabs on its own. That should be able to be cleaned up fairly easily.

An even bigger problem was one of the features that Microsoft has been touting — the ability to annotate Web pages, and save and share them with others. On some pages I visited, when I clicked the small note icon on the upper-right that turned the feature on, the site crashed. On other pages, the feature's toolbar would appear on top of the screen with icons for doing things such as drawing on the page, typing on the page and so on, but they didn't work. And on yet other pages, when I clicked the note icon, I got the statement, "Web Notes aren't available."

 

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