Microsoft only unveiled Windows 10 to the world yesterday, but you can already download a preview version of the new operating system today. The Windows 10 Technical Preview is designed for enthusiasts, developers, and enterprise customers to evaluate the latest changes to Windows. Microsoft has created a special insiders program to deliver regular updates throughout the Windows 10 development cycle, and those who sign up will get the very latest software to test.
It’s an unusual move for Microsoft, but one that it plans to capitalize on by looking closely at feedback from those who opt to install the early version of Windows 10. Microsoft is releasing Windows 10 Technical Preview as an ISO download, meaning you can install it in a virtual machine, clean install the OS on a spare machine, or even attempt to upgrade your existing Windows 8.1 installation. It’s a very early build of Windows 10 so there will be bugs, but if you’re interested in testing the very latest version of Windows then Microsoft’s preview site has all the details for downloading and installing Windows 10.
So, I installed Windows 10 Technical Preview. Actually, I was feeling so brave (foolhardy?) that I upgraded my main Windows 8.1 installation to Windows 10. The good news: The upgrade process went very smoothly indeed. The bad news: Well, except for a few small interface quirks, there doesn’t seem to be much bad news. Read on for my early hands-on impressions of Windows 10 Technical Preview — and a video of Windows 10 Technical Preview running on my multi-monitor desktop PC.
Using Windows 10 Technical Preview
For the most part, if you’ve been using Windows 8 on a mouse-and-keyboard desktop PC for a while, Windows 10 Technical Preview will feel very familiar. Here are the new changes/features that immediately stood out:
Windows 10 looks a lot sharper. The new 1-pixel borders on app windows, along with the drop shadow, really does make the Windows 10 Desktop look rather smart.
The new Alt-Tab view is horrible. I’ve always hated Microsoft’s attempts to re-work the Alt-Tab app switcher into something more visual. The new Alt-Tab view in Windows 10 is pretty horrendous (picture below). Maybe it’ll be better once I get used to it — but if you’re used to a neat line of thumbnails that you can cycle through, you’re in for a shock.
Snapping is indeed much improved. In Windows 10 Technical Preview you have many more ways of snapping apps than in Windows 8. You can now snap left and right, and left and right of the middle divider on a multi-monitor setup. You can also snap in a top or bottom corner. When you snap an app, if you have other apps minimized, a new interface pops up asking if you want to snap another app into the remaining gap. It’s kind of cool. Very much a throwback to the “tile view” of yesteryear.
The Start menu is back. Personally I don’t use the Start menu much (I prefer to pin my apps to the taskbar), but yes, the Start menu is back in Windows 10 — and yes, you can remove all of the live tiles if you want. (Funnily enough, after removing all of the live tiles, I don’t know how to put them back.)
Windows 10 Technical Preview screenshots
Here’s a selection of screenshots from my Windows 10 Technical Preview adventures thus far. They mostly accompany the video; where you might not be able to see the detail in the video, I’ve provided a full-res screenshot below.
This is just the tip of the Windows 10 iceberg. The Technical Preview appears to be missing a lot of features, such as Cortana and the Notifications tray. There are also a lot of new configuration options to play around with — which is what I’m going to do now. I’ll keep this post updated as my exploration of Windows 10 Technical Preview progresses.