More Desktop Changes

One of the goals of Windows 10 is to entice Windows 7 users to migrate to the new operating system. The additions we’ve seen already to the traditional mouse and keyboard interface have already been substantial, and should make most Windows 7 users comfortable. But they are not the only changes to the desktop. There is a little bit for everyone, both casual users and enthusiasts alike, so lets check out some more of the new features of Windows 10’s desktop.

Windows 8 changed up Windows Explorer, and brought in the ribbon menu. Office 2007 was the first Microsoft program to move from the file menu to the ribbon menu, and while it was controversial at the time, it is now very familiar. Moving Windows Explorer to a ribbon menu made it both easier to use with touch, as well as exposing settings and features that may have been tucked away in a submenu before. Windows 10 evolves this. Opening up Windows Explorer now greets you with a list of files you have recently accessed in the main pane. The thinking is that when you go to Explorer, you are likely looking for something you’ve used before. I won’t dispute the logic, but I prefer to see the computer view myself. Luckily it’s an easy option to change by clicking File->Change folder and search options. What I do like though is the Quick Access feature in Windows Explorer, which gives you – you guessed it – quick access to folders that are used a lot. The system will automatically add folders you go to frequently which is kind of great for discoverability, and you can add or remove any folder here. I have found it very useful, and since it is also built into the file picker for saving files, it makes it easy to get where I want to go when saving files.

Another nice feature to come to Windows Explorer is the Share contract. Windows 8 introduced contracts, which allow apps to communicate with one another over dedicated protocols, and adding it to Windows Explorer is a great way to expand them from the tablet style apps to the desktop. Share was likely the most useful contract, and I was always disappointed that the Windows 8 Charms did not offer any functionality on the desktop, so this is a great addition.

There are also small changes which improve Windows 10 over Windows 8. Things like having drop shadows back. Windows 8 went for a very flat UI, and it was clean looking but the lack of depth was not very useful with multiple windows open. Adding drop shadows back give the subtle definition around windows to make them stand out a bit more.

One of my favorite features that has come to Windows 10 is the ability to scroll an inactive window. Prior to Windows 10, and assuming you were not running a third party utility which enabled this, in order to scroll a window you had to first select it. Now, you can just move your mouse over any open window and use the scroll wheel to move whatever window you are over. You can do this on windows that are buried three or four deep – as long as you can see some of it you can scroll it. It is great when you are referencing a PDF or site, and writing at the same time, since you can continue to type while scrolling around in your reference document. For those that think this is insane, yes, you can turn it off.

Windows 8 seemed to signal that Microsoft was looking to a future past the desktop. There were some nice changes brought to the Windows 8 desktop but they were overshadowed by the changes brought in by the touch-first UI. With Windows 10, Microsoft is not only trying to bring back the focus on the desktop, they have added a lot of great features as well which should certainly entice users of both Windows 7 and 8.1 to want to switch.

Return of the Desktop and Start Menu Continuum: Transforming the form factor
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  • StevoLincolnite - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    FINALLY! And First. :P
  • webmastir - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Typical YouTube user.
  • dsumanik - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Would just like to say this is the first Non garbage pseudo viral marketing advertisement "review" I've read on Anandtech in months. Well done sir.

    Please pass on some editorial tips to Joshua Ho and Brandon Chester, imho, the two most corrupt authors working for this publication.
  • kenansadhu - Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - link

    Came to a house and insult the owner. Classy.
  • ddriver - Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - link

    If truth is insulting to the owner, he outta stop and think about what he is doing.

    Windows 10 is the worlds largest and most obnoxious spyware, and it just sucks to see how many people are getting paid to shower it with accolades.
  • quidpro - Tuesday, September 1, 2015 - link

    MS is allowed to compete with Google, Apple, and Facebook, or anything else you may have account for and are willing to sign in with which adds convenience of syncing of personal info across devices. To lambaste MS for playing catch-up is ridiculous. A keyboard on an android phone or iphone "tracks your keypresses". It has to. You can't have GPS and turn by turn worth having without allowing a service know where you are or where you intend to go. You can't have your contacts pulled down across devices unless you allow for access to your data. You can't get from one website to another without divulging your IP. This is the way things are. These are the services people want to make their lives easier and better. Windows 10 isn't the most obnoxious, it's just late to the game. As is your criticism.
  • ibudic1 - Saturday, November 7, 2015 - link

  • bs grinder - Tuesday, December 26, 2017 - link

    how many pieces of silver does ms pay u for ur quid pro bs????
    john rayburn Williamsburg nm
  • Lerianis - Thursday, October 1, 2015 - link

    ddriver, cut the bull. Windows 10 tells you EVERY SINGLE THING that it will send back to Microsoft and allows you to opt-out or turn off the functionality that requires that stuff being sent back to Microsoft.
    Not a big issue in the real world and it is past time to realize that Windows 10 is not spyware anymore than OSX or Linux are.
  • zman58 - Thursday, October 15, 2015 - link

    You are dreaming, you have no idea what is or could be gathered and sent at any point in time. Read the EULA, you agree and bless whatever they decide to collect and send for whatever reason they see fit. And you give up far more than that when you click "I agree".

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