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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.

Only a few pages let me annotate them. And even then, when I clicked the Share button so I could share the annotated page with others, I received the message, "Project Spartan can't share right now. Try again later." I tried again later. Same message.

Another feature, Reading View, worked as promised. In Reading View everything extraneous is stripped from a page, including ads, navigation and anything else that distracts from the article itself. The article is presented in a clean, scrollable window, graphics included. It's easy to get in and out of Reading View — click its icon at the top of the screen to toggle it on or off. I found it particularly useful for reading long text sections.

Missing at the moment is the ability to tear off a tab to its own window, or drag a window into another. That's basic browser functionality, so I expect that to be fixed before launch.

The bottom line? The design is right, the feature set promising. But Edge still can't be considered a fully functional browser.

Small changes

There have been a number of other tweaks. In the latest build, Microsoft continues to try and get all system settings in a single location, rather than put them in multiple places as was the case in Windows 8, where they were scattered between Control Panel and Settings. In the Personalization section you can now find settings for Background, Colors and Themes, which were previously found in Control Panel — this makes life much easier for people (like me) who constantly tweak Windows' look and feel.

The eagle-eyed may notice a very small change that was ushered in by build 10074. The small watermark on the lower right of the Windows desktop no longer labels the build as a Technical Preview. Instead, it's called an Insider Preview. That may seem a small detail, but in Microsoft's world it means something — the public previews have moved to a more finished phase, one that more closely resembles the final release of the operating system.

The Cortana digital assistant has also received a minor makeover with the addition of a vertical set of icons on its left, so that you can more easily use a variety of its features including a notebook, calendar, places and settings features.

The bottom line

Overall, Windows 10 looks to generally be in good shape before its expected release date in two months. The Start menu goes a long way toward making Windows a unified operating system rather than two separate ones kludged together — one for touch-based devices and another for traditional computers.

The improved Mail and Calendar apps show that Microsoft is getting serious about making Windows apps fully powered ones rather than pale imitations of desktop apps. And the Edge browser shows a lot of promise as well, although it's still so buggy that it's hard to truly review it.

 

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