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Using Windows 10

This chapter from Windows 10 Inside Out covers things you tap, click, drag, and drop to make Windows do your bidding. Some, like the taskbar and notification icons, are similar enough to their predecessors that you might miss subtle but significant changes. It also includes a section on the unique ways to interact with a tablet running Windows 10. And, of course, it covers Cortana, the first Windows feature that can literally speak for itself.

Regardless of your upgrade path—from Windows 7 or from Windows 8.1—your day-to-day experience changes significantly with Windows 10.

The things you expect Windows to do on your behalf—launching programs, arranging windows on the screen, switching between tasks, finding files, setting notifications, interacting with cloud services, communicating with other people—are basically the same. But the steps you take to accomplish those tasks are different.

The change is more striking if you’re moving from a conventional PC or laptop to a touchscreen device. Even if you still have access to a keyboard and mouse or trackpad, the addition of touch fundamentally changes how you interact with Windows and with apps. With a phone or small tablet added to the mix, you have still more options to explore.

In this chapter, we look at the things you tap, click, drag, and drop to make Windows do your bidding. Some, like the taskbar and notification icons, are similar enough to their predecessors that you might miss subtle but significant changes.

Our coverage also includes a section on the unique ways to interact with a tablet running Windows 10. And, of course, we introduce Cortana, the first Windows feature that can literally speak for itself.

A disclaimer, right up front: in this chapter, we are writing about a user experience that is evolving from month to month and that will continue to do so even after the initial release of Windows 10 on July 29, 2015. The screen shots and step-by-step instructions you see here are based on that initial release. It’s not only possible, but practically certain, that some of the features we describe here will change in the months after we send this book to the printer as Microsoft delivers on its promise of “Windows as a service.”

If you see subtle differences between what’s on these pages and what’s on your screen, that’s the likely reason. We hope our descriptions make it possible to incorporate those changes into your learning.

An overview of the Windows 10 user experience

Before we dive into detailed descriptions of individual features, please join us for a brief tour of Windows 10. Our goal is to introduce the different parts of Windows, new and old, so that we can be sure you’re on the same page . . . or at least looking at the same arrangement of pixels.

Figure 3-1 shows the basic building blocks of Windows 10 and offers a hint of its signature visual style.

Figure 3-1

Figure 3-1 The Start menu and Action Center are at the core of the Windows 10 experience, with the familiar desktop front and center for conventional PCs.

When you first start up a conventional PC running Windows 10, you see the familiar Windows 7–style desktop and taskbar. Clicking the Start button—the Windows logo in the lower left corner—opens the Start menu, which is conceptually similar to its predecessor but differs dramatically in the details.

A click on the right side of the taskbar opens Action Center, which is also shown in Figure 3-1. This pane, which uses the full height of your display, contains notifications from apps and services as well as action buttons that allow quick access to settings.

As with previous versions, Windows 10 offers multiple ways to switch between tasks. The Task View button, a new addition to the Windows 10 taskbar, produces the view shown in Figure 3-2, which also illustrates another new feature: virtual desktops. We discuss both features in more detail later in this chapter.

Figure 3-2

Figure 3-2 Task View allows you to switch quickly between available windows; the new virtual desktop feature allows you to group windows.

  • arrow.jpg For more details on how to set up notifications and configure Action Center, see Chapter 4, “Personalizing Windows 10.”