Windows 10 is now out. That means if you were a Windows Insider tester, or have a machine ready to run it, you should have a notification alerting you to install the update. Or, if you’re feeling frisky, you can go out and buy a brand new laptop with Windows 10, too.
We’ve been testing Windows 10 for several weeks and we’re loving what we see so far; it’s the upgrade Windows fans have been waiting for, and the release PC users deserve following Windows 8 (yuck.)
Let’s take a quick look at some of the best features of Windows 10. There’s a ton of changes, so this doesn’t even scratch the surface, but it’s at least a start.
Cortana is making its way to the PC in Windows 10 and it’s an awesome feature. You can add things to her Notebook —like a real assistant – so she starts to learn what kinds of cuisines you like, what sports teams you follow and more.
She’ll immediately provide that information and things like the weather, upcoming flight plans and more, all from your Windows 10 taskbar. Cortana exists in two forms, either as an icon or as a full search bar, and you can call her up by voice using the “Hey Cortana” command, or manually.
2. Windows Hello
Passwords are dumb! Not really, but they’re a pain in the butt. They also aren’t very secure if you’re just taping them to the side of your monitor anyway. That’s why Microsoft built Windows Hello, its biometric based security system.
You can use iris scanners — already built into some computers — your face or your fingerprint to jump right into your computer. We tested it and it works flawlessly and quickly, and we’re told they can’t be faked with photos or other dupes.
This isn’t a gimmick, either. Microsoft is part of the FIDO Alliance (Fast Identity Online), which has a goal of getting banks and other institutions on board with the authentication standard.
Continuum is going to play a huge role in Microsoft’s Windows 10 ecosystem. On tablets and 2-in-1 hybrids, it allows you to switch between a touch-friendly mode and a keyboard and mouse mode. Simply attach a keyboard and you’ll get a notification to toggle.
More importantly, however, is what it means for apps. The applications you use on Windows 10 are built to scale from all screen sizes, so Windows 10 apps like Photos, or even apps that developers build, can run on devices with 4-inch displays (phones) up to huge monitors. Just pull the Window and the app will scale in real-time, as you’ll see in the gallery above where I scaled Photos.
4. The Start menu!
Yes it wasn’t very hard to add a Start menu to early iterations of Windows but the real deal Start menu is making its triumphant return after it was last seen in Windows 7.
It’s even better than before, too, and Microsoft says it specifically made tweaks based on input from Windows Insider testers. You can keep it nice and small or resize it to take over your whole screen if you want. You can also customize it to your content with four different live tile sizes (small, medium, wide and large), drag and drop applications around and more.
For me, it’s where I can quickly see the weather, check out a few headlines and open up my most used apps, and it’s easily the best version of the smart menu ever.
5. Microsoft Edge
I’ll admit, I’m still getting used to the Microsoft Edge browser, but I’m really digging it so far. You can finally pin tabs, you can take a snapshot of the screen and draw on it in OneNote, share pages right from the browser and more.
My favorite feature, however, is its built-in Cortana support. If you go to a website for a restaurant, for example, Cortana will pop up at the top of the screen and let you know she has the hours, directions and more. Also, if you ever come across a word or something you don’t understand, you can right click and “Ask Cortana” for more information.
Other features include light/dark modes, a Reading List and the ability to read in a special “reading view” that makes the page much more reader friendly.
Like we said, there’s so much more to love about Windows 10. Notifications are awesome, you get quick access to settings, we finally have support for full virtual desktops, task switching is better than ever and more. Even better, Microsoft is treating Windows 10 more like “Windows as a service,” which means we can expect frequent updates. This is just a start, and we’ll work to bring you additional coverage of Windows 10 soon.