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Windows 10, the pre-review: Six things build 10240 reveals about the new OS

Mark Hachman | July 20, 2015
Windows 10's official birthday is July 29, but we couldn't wait that long to unwrap the present. Build 10240, released Wednesday, is just a few buffs and polishes away from the final version, according to Microsoft. While we work on our full review, we can already provide you with the highlights.

3. Microsoft Edge, the browser gone astray

The Edge browser is Windows 10's problem child, something that could drag down the review. My beef with Edge can be summed up neatly: It's dull, some of its vaunted features are overplayed, and it struggles to compete with its chief competitor, Chrome.

Open Edge, and you're met with a sea of gray. For all the complaints about Windows 8, Bing, MSN and its related content properties welcomed you. If I were Microsoft, I'd set Bing.com as the homepage and damn the critics.

I'm going to leave some of the more detailed critiques for the review. But I'll say this: I created a stress test of 30 tabs, from Amazon to CNET to iMore to Salon. Edge tabs hung, stuttered, and became unresponsive, pegging a Core i5-based HP Spectre at 98 percent CPU utilization and 97 percent of the available memory. Using the same tabs, Chrome hit 59 percent to 70 percent CPU, and 78 percent memory utilization. Edge may indeed be "blazing fast" on the benchmarks, but right now, Chrome wins in my everyday usage.

4. Windows 10 apps: a mixed bag

Remember, so-called Metro/Modern/Windows apps are now windowed, and can roam onto the desktop. I'll dive deeper into some of these in the full review, but for now, let's play the lightning round: Photos, powerful; the Store, meager; Solitaire, high-energy; Music, blah; and Maps? On the cusp of becoming a very good app. 

I'm disappointed Microsoft decided to kill some MSN apps, including Health & Fitness. But as much as I'd have liked Microsoft to hold onto its extra content, they really don't have a place in Windows 10.

5. General stability

Here, I think Microsoft has made significant strides. I was shocked when a recent build gave me a Blue Screen of Death--I can't remember the last time I'd seen that in a Microsoft OS, period. But as I pointed out a few weeks ago, I've had some tough times with Windows 10.

I can't say for certain if any game-changing bugs lurk out of my sight (if you have any suggestions for things to test, please let me know in the comments below). The most annoying thing I've seen is Windows 10's tendency to forget about an external display if the PC was left idle for a length of time. But in the two most recent builds (I'm typing this on Build 10240 right now) that issue seems to have disappeared. I'm still seeing some inconsistencies connecting over ethernet and Wi-Fi, however, and that shouldn't be happening. Also, my Surface Pro 2 refuses to rotate the display into portrait mode when undocked, a bug Microsoft blames on a driver issue.

 

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