At an event in San Francisco today, Microsoft debuted Windows 10 to the world. While we were generally excited about the possibilities that the new version of Windows potentially held for the computing world going into the event, we came away from the reveal significantly underwhelmed.
Microsoft touched on commonly rumored new features for the OS, including a refreshed Start menu, the option to run Metro apps in windowed mode, and the ability to run multiple virtual desktops in Windows 10. From a consumer standpoint, that was pretty much it for this unveiling. We will get access to a Technical Preview version of Windows 10 sometime on October 1, but we don’t expect it to include any more big features other than the ones Microsoft showed off today.
While we’re sure that what we’ve seen so far doesn’t tell the whole story of Windows 10, this in turn means that the novel is incomplete. Considering that Windows 8 is essentially the stale egg salad sandwich of operating systems, Windows 10 needs a lot more to spark a massive wave of migrants the way Windows 7 did. Adding a new Start menu and better multitasking features is a fine beginning, but Windows 10 needs to do more to complete the book and add a compelling ending that will make PC users want more.
With that in mind, here are five commonly rumored features that Windows 10 really needs, but did not show up in the reveal. Keep in mind that these could appear sometime down the line, considering that Microsoft likely won’t release Windows 10 in full until sometime after Build 2015 in April of next year.
A new take on Windows Update
Windows Update has been a pretty ho-hum feature in Windows for ages. New patches come out, you install them, done. Microsoft would discover vulnerabilities and release fixes for them, which would then end up as downloadable updates on your computer.
Prior to the Windows 10 event, we saw a job posting which strongly suggested that Microsoft would transform Windows Update into a utility that would deliver new versions of the OS. The vacancy stated that the company sought to “change the way Windows is shipping.” We didn’t hear anything about that at Microsoft’s Windows 10 event.
This engineer, according to the job opening, would be part of a squad of Microsoft developers dubbed the Mission Control team. Other issues they would tackle, according to the notice, include problems with video drivers, bugs with the Windows Start menu, and more.
Just as notable as the problems this engineer would help address are the hypothetical timelines for issuing fixes included in the opening. For instance, Microsoft cites a duration of “less than two days” for the video driver fix, and “less than a week” for solving a problem with the Start menu on every Windows PC. We didn’t hear anything about that either.
Hopefully, this super-charged version of Windows Update gets shown off at some point down the line.
Start menu customization
While the return of the Start menu is great and all, what we noticed during Microsoft’s presentation is that the right half of it was completely populated by shortcuts to Metro apps. But can you swap those out for classic folders, and other items not associated with Windows 8’s tiled apps? We didn’t see that on display today.
If Microsoft really wants to get cozy with people who are still clinging to Windows XP and 7, it has to offer the ability to swap out the shortcuts to Metro apps in the Start menu for, well, basically anything. This includes documents, links to websites, shortcuts to files, songs, you name it.
Do away with Charms, for the most part
It’s currently unknown whether the Charms menu, which debuted in Windows 8, still exists or not. Based on recently leaked images and videos of Windows 10, significant elements of the Charms menu’s functions could be shifted over to reside directly in Metro apps while brushing aside the bar-based version of Charms.
With this approach, Charms could continue to live on without pestering desktop users by popping up from the right side of the screen every time you point your mouse in that area, like when you want to scroll up and down a Web page.
Leaks prior to the Windows 10 reveal told us that the new OS would get a new Notifications Center, but that hasn’t happened at this point either. Based on what we saw in these leaks, the Notifications Center would alert you of new events that occured in different apps and services all throughout Windows 10.
For instance, if you got a new message in Skype, you’d get a notification along with a pop-up in the upper right hand corner of the screen. Notifications would be divided in the utility on an app-by-app basis, and you can get rid of all of them by clicking the “X” button in the upper right hand corner of its window.
Hopefully, Microsoft adds this at a later date.
Free Windows, for some at least
Just days before the Windows 10 event, a Microsoft executive strongly implied that Windows 10 would be free for Windows 8 users, according to translated text.
At this point, it sounds like we’re a long way off from knowing how much Windows 10 will cost. Windows 8.1 With Bing was a good first step towards making licenses cheap for OEMs, but Microsoft has to extend that gesture to consumers as well, at least to a point.
It would be unfair to ask a Windows 8 user who bought in early to pay up another $100 – $150 for an OS whose biggest drawing card, at this point, is the return of a feature that shouldn’t have been done away with in the first place.