I’ve installed it on my Desktop PC (homebuild) in a Dual Boot configuration. Dual Boot seems the safest option at this stage; Windows 10 is nowhere near complete, and you can’t revert back to Windows 8.1 without doing a complete fresh reinstall of Windows. While I could have run Windows 10 in a Virtual Machine, I prefer to see what happens when running on actual hardware. With the Dual Boot configuration, I can choose to start up either the Windows 10 Technical Preview or the tried and trusted Windows 8.1 operating system. (Addendum: if you’d like to install the Technical Preview in a Virtual Machine, then Ludwig Keck has a “How-to” post over at his This ‘n That blog.)
The main thing to bear in mind is that at this stage, it’s very early days; the focus of the Technical Preview is on Enterprise users (who are probably still running Windows 7 on their PCs) and therefore using the traditional Desktop interface with mouse and keyboard. Touch devices are not the focus of this first Technical Preview. I’m already reading in forums of people who have installed it on touch-enabled devices (e.g. the Microsoft Surface Pro range) and who are reporting that the touch experience is in fact degraded…
For this and other reasons, there is no way that I would install the Technical Preview on my ThinkPad Tablet 2 at this stage. Knowing my luck I’d end up with a useless brick.
I suppose the big news of this Technical Preview is that the Start Menu (familiar to Windows 7 users) is back. This being Windows 10, the Start Menu also has elements of the Windows 8.1 Start Screen tacked onto it in the form of App Tiles:
It’s possible to customise this Start Menu (Start Panel?) in a variety of ways (resizing the panel, resizing and shuffling the Tiles) to arrive at your desired configuration. This could be a pure Windows 7-style of Start Menu, or a combination of Menu and Panel:
I have to say that, frankly, for me, this all seems like a step back into the past. I’ve got very comfortable with the Start Screen on all my devices (PCs and Tablets), and going back to the damn Start Menu doesn’t thrill me at all. Clearly, there are many for whom the Start Menu is a good thing, but I’m not one of them. I just hope that Microsoft don’t remove the option of having a Start Screen even when Windows 10 is running in Desktop mode.
What I also quickly noticed is that, in this Technical Preview, the Charms Bar has been removed from the Desktop as well. My muscle memory kept expecting to bring out the Charms bar, and I found it irritating that it was not there. This may be an issue with the Technical Preview build, because there’s a Control Panel setting that seems to imply that it should be possible to have the Charms Bar present, even in Desktop mode:
However, in this build of the Technical Preview, that checkbox doesn’t work.
One thing I do rather like is that Desktop Windows are now almost borderless, with just a faint shadow effect on underlying Windows:
This seems to be a nod to the “flat” design language of the Modern UI. As I say, I rather like it, but I see from the forums that Desktop traditionalists hate it.
If you fire up a Modern UI app, then it displays almost fullscreen (by default, the Taskbar and a Title Bar still show):
The big news here is that it is possible to resize the Window of the app. The trouble is, that the content doesn’t resize. It may get reshuffled a bit (but not always, as the Store app shown here illustrates), but fonts and graphics remain at their original size:
I don’t really think this works. The Mail app, for example, is really designed for a tablet-sized screen in fullscreen mode. Resizing it on a large desktop, and it looks overblown, even when in a smaller window. When in Desktop mode, I tend to stick to the traditional Windows Live Mail, which is a traditional Desktop application. That’s comfortable. When I’m using my tablet, I use the Mail app. That’s equally comfortable.
Microsoft are making a play that Windows 10 will be one platform that supports a tailored experience for a range of device form factors:
However, at this stage, it is clear that the experience is not tailored, it’s procrustean – at least as far as the current generation of Modern UI apps are concerned. This has to improve.
I’ll be following the developments with interest, but this first Technical Preview is addressing an area that I personally have moved beyond.