Happy birthday to you, Windows 10!

Where has time gone? Just two years ago on July 29, 2015, Microsoft unleashed its latest operating system onto the world with an enticing free offer for the first year. Two years on, Windows 10 is still going strong - so let's look at the 10 best features:

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1. The Start menu

Windows 10 Start Menu

The Start menu — controversially missing from Windows 8 — made a welcome return in Windows 10. Better still, Windows 10 boots to the Desktop by default and the Start menu is just where you’d expect to find it.

It works like the Start menu we’re all used to, but Microsoft has added Live Tiles to it — the same Live Tiles that appear on the Windows 8 Start screen. These can be dragged around, or resized and removed with a right-click. You can also resize the entire Start menu by opening it, and clicking and dragging its top edge. And guess what - even more improvements are in tow with the Anniversary Update this summer, which will see some refinements to the Start menu following user feedback.

And if you prefer the full screen Start Menu as seen in Windows 8, it’s not a problem – watch the video below to see how to change it:



2. You can run Modern UI apps on the Desktop

Windows 10 apps

Chunky, finger-friendly Modern UI apps still exist in Windows 10, but they no longer need to run full-screen. Launch one from the Start menu (Store, for example) and you’ll see the usual window-size control buttons at the top right of its window, so you run them on the Desktop just like any other app.


3. Cortana

Cortana on Windows 10

Cortana is a voice-controlled digital assistant that gives you answers to the questions you need, whether it’s searching for files on your computer, looking for information online or if you want to add a date to your calendar.

Read our feature on getting the most out of Cortana here.


4. Multi-task with Task View

Windows 10 Task View

Windows 10 makes working with multiple windows much easier. Press Alt + Tab, or click the Task View button on the Task Bar, and you’ll see an overview of all open windows. Each also has an ‘X’ button, so you can close them with a mouse click in this view.


5. Work with multiple Desktops

Windows 10 multiple desktops

Click the Task View button on the Taskbar and you’ll see an ‘Add a desktop’ option at the bottom of the screen.

This allows you to create virtual Desktops that you can quickly switch between, so you don’t have to cram all your open apps onto just one. Apps open on the current Desktop automatically, else you can move them by right-clicking one in Task View and selecting ’Move To’ from the menu.

Apps that are running on a virtual Desktop have a line under their icon on the Taskbar and you can switch between Desktops using the Task View button (they appear at the bottom of the screen), or by pressing the Alt + Windows keys.


6. Aero Snap gets extended

Windows 10 Aero Snap

Windows Vista introduced the Aero Snap feature for resizing open Windows, but Windows 10 takes it to the next level.

You can still snap windows to the left and right half of the screen by dragging them to the left or right screen edge, but now you can also drag windows into one corner to snap them to a quarter-screen. You can also resize windows by pressing the Windows key with one of the cursor keys and Windows 10 will then suggest other windows to occupy the remaining space.


7. Never miss a notification

Windows 10 notifications

Windows 7 and 8 displayed operating system notifications as pop-up windows, but these could easily disappear before you had the chance to read them. This still happens in Windows 10, but the notifications are also saved in the new Action Centre. Just click the icon in the Notifications Area to see them.


8. Take control of the Command Prompt

Windows 10 Command Prompt

Few people have the need to use the Command Prompt in Windows, but it can be a much quicker way to perform certain tasks.

If you are a fan, you’ll find you can now resize the window and have its contents resize with it (rather than disappear behind a scroll bar), select and cut/copy text easily using the mouse and make use of a whole range of keyboard shortcuts.


9. Get more life from your laptop battery

Windows 10 Battery Saver

One new feature all laptop owners should get excited about is Battery Saver. It does what it says on the tin – when activated, it limits your PC’s power usage by closing non-essential apps and reducing brightness to save as much power as possible.

You can find it by opening the Action Center on the bottom right of the screen and selecting Battery Saver.

10. Give some feedback…

Windows 10 Feedback

Windows 10 is shaped by your feedback and Microsoft really wants to hear what you have to say. Not keen on Cortana? Let them know. Loving the Start menu? Shout about it.

There’s a dedicated a Windows Feedback app you can use to vent or complement – find it simply by searching ‘windows feedback’ using Cortana.

Article updated by Jamie Harris on 31/07/2017.

Thanks to Acer for the loan of the Aspire SW3.

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