Microsoft’s latest operating system Windows 10 offers huge improvements over Windows 7 and Windows 8, fixing many of the issues users have had with Windows 8 and offering huge leaps in performance, security and features for anyone used to using Windows 7. In both Home and Professional editions Windows 10 really is the operating system you need to be using in 2015 and beyond – here are just a few of the key features that have the staff at CCL excited!

Windows 10 Key Features – Microsoft Edge

“Edge” is Microsoft’s answer to Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. These younger competitors have been ahead of Microsoft’s web browser Internet explorer for a long time, usually due to the quicker update and release schedules of Google and Mozilla.

These quicker releases let Google & Mozilla implement the latest features far sooner than Microsoft could, with large corporations using Internet Explorer Microsoft had its hands tied due to the extensive testing of each new version before companies could roll it out onto their networks. In the browser world, where two or three new versions of a browser could be released in a week, being limited to annual or even bi-annual releases was a major disadvantage for Microsoft.

 

Enter Microsoft Edge, the new browser that Microsoft hope will allow them to compete and dominate in the browser space like Internet Explorer did in the late 1990s and early 2000s. This all-new browser is built to give a better web experience, being optimised for easy sharing, reading and researching from the ground up.

Cortana is built right in, allowing voice control of many features and searches. With Cortana’s built-in personal assistant, you can get content and sites based on your interests and preferences.

With a quicker release cycle, support for making annotations on web pages that can be stored and shared on OneDrive and a “Reading List” that syncs between devices, the Edge browser brings Microsoft right back into the fight to have the best web browser.

Windows 10 Key Features – Cortana

Cortana is Microsoft’s version of a digital assistant, similar to Apple’s Siri. Cortana is designed at the core of Windows 10, letting it integrate with many of the features in a seamless and very impressive way.

Cortana works across your day and all your compatible devices to help you get things done. By learning more about you over time, Cortana becomes more personal and useful to you.

 

Cortana can assist with many tasks such as:
• Searching the web
• Finding files and programs on your PC
• Keeping track of your calendar and to-do list

Cortana is more than just a “dumb” voice-controlled toy that works with a tiny amount of commands. For example, you can ask Cortana to “Put swimming on my calendar for tomorrow” and Cortana will add it in, or you can ask something like “Change my 3PM event to 4PM” and Cortana will move your scheduled appointment for you, sending out reminders to any other attendees. Even wider tasks are possible; if you ask Cortana “what’s happening this weekend?” you will be presented with a list of birthdays, appointments and maybe even the weather for the coming weekend.

Cortana operates a Notebook where it keeps track of what you like and what you want her to do. You can use it to tell Cortana about your interests, favourite places and the quiet hours when you don’t want to be disturbed. There is also a settings screen where you can adjust battery, speech, search and other settings.

Cortana is a great feature of Windows 10 - if you put the time in to work with it you will get far more out in rewards and efficiency savings. There finally is a daily use for the microphone on your laptop!

Windows 10 Key Features – Xbox App

Windows 10 brings the Xbox ecosystem to the PC for the first time in a coherent way, making your gaming experience more social, engaging and fun than ever before. Finally the barriers between console couch gamers and PC gamers sat their desks are being taken down!

The Xbox App in Windows 10 connects you whether you’re out and about or just in another room, bringing your Xbox friends, activity, game history and achievements together along with your PC.

 

Another key feature of the Xbox experience on Windows 10 is the ability to stream your games from your Xbox One console onto the PC, letting you continue your gaming session even when the TV connected to your console is busy watching soaps. All you need is for the Windows 10 PC to be connected to the same wireless network as the Xbox One and you are set.

Cross-platform gaming also looks set to become a reality in games such as Lionhead Studio’s forthcoming Fable Legends action-roleplaying game. You will be able to play alongside your friends on the Xbox One on your Windows 10 PC in more and more titles, all the while experiencing higher fidelity gaming thanks to the extra graphical power the PC provides compared to the Xbox One console.

To really get excited about the possibilities of Xbox and Windows finally coming together, take a look at the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DI4QVOaLCWk

Windows 10 Key Features – DirectX 12

One of the key features Microsoft has been advertising for Windows 10 is the inclusion of the latest DirectX 12 technology. Gamers and enthusiasts may be familiar with DirectX and what it means in reality, but is it a feature everyone should take notice of?

DirectX is the name Microsoft gives to a large library of application programming interfaces it uses for multimedia and video programs. Key among this is games; without DirectX’s library of APIs Windows would not dominate gaming as it does.
DirectX enables game developers to interface with the internal components of your PC and get the best performance from the features they support. Without DirectX you would have to manually tell each game and application what hardware your PC has and what features it supports.

DirectX was introduced in the middle of the 1990s and since then has had 12 major releases and countless minor updates. DirectX has certainly gotten better with age, as the look and feel of games over the past 20 years shows, but whether you can take advantage of each new version depends almost entirely on if your system components, and the if graphics card in particular can support the latest version’s features. This constant drive for new features and improved visuals is one of the reasons why new graphics cards are released on an annual basis.

As gamers and enthusiasts will already know, DirectX 12 is a very big deal. It is almost as though with Windows 10 Microsoft have finally acknowledged the large amount of users who game on their PC and have worked in features to really improve everyone’s experience.

DirectX 12 is backwards compatible with all previous versions, however if you are running Windows 10 and your hardware supports DirectX 12 there are some big improvements you can make use of in the latest games:
• Reduced graphics card overhead, enabling better performance on the same hardware when compared to previous versions.
• 4K, 6K and 8K support and optimisations to make gaming at these super-high resolutions possible.
• VR Ready, giving the best experience.
• Multi-adapter support - previously when you had graphics built into your CPU or motherboard these would be turned off when you installed a gaming graphics cards. Now with DirectX 12 this extra power is combined with your graphics card to improve performance by up to 10%.

If you are looking to buy a gaming PC and get the best performance out of your hardware with the best visuals in the latest games, then DirectX 12 and Windows 10 are an essential component of your next PC. Simply put, Windows 7 and 8 just won’t cut it in the high-resolution, high-fidelity VR future.

Windows 10 Key Features – App Store

Windows 10 grows on the app store that debuted in Windows 8. Thankfully it is much improved, finally offering a way of sharing the apps you purchase across your phone, tablet, laptop and desktop. With the backend optimisations Microsoft have done many developers are now releasing popular apps for Windows, meaning the old line of there “being no apps for Windows” is being fixed! Of course you can still use the desktop programs you know and already love just fine on Windows 10.

 

Windows 10 Key Features – Windows Hello

Windows Hello in Windows 10 lets you sign into your device with your face or finger, making it more secure than a traditional password. You and your family members will just need to sit down in front of a compatible PC, laptop or tablet and it will sign in to your account ready to use. A picture or video really speaks a thousand words with this impressive technology so I would advise watching Microsoft’s video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?t=199&v=1AsoSnOmhvU


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