Windows 10: 4 things Windows 10 can do that Windows 8.1 can't

We pick out the top four new features in Windows 10 that give it the edge over Windows 8.1

Start menu

The loss of the Start menu in Windows 8 caused a lot of confusion among users and was often cited as the primary reason for not upgrading from Windows 7.

It is hardly surprising, then, that Microsoft is positioning the Start Menu as one of Windows 10's big selling features. However, this is an all-new Start menu, incorporating both the traditional menu layout that first appeared 10 years ago and the live tiles interface from Windows 8. It is also customisable, so you can see as many or as few live tiles as you wish, and can be expand to see the full Start screen too.

In short, the new Start menu brings together the best of the Windows 7 Start menu with Windows 8's Start screen, which Microsoft hopes will tempt afficionados of both operating systems over to Windows 10.

Multiple desktops

Multiple desktops have been a feature of Linux and Mac operating systems for several years, but Windows 10 is the first version of Microsoft's OS to feature them.

This is a huge step up from Windows 8, which was launched at around the same time as virtual desktops first made and appearance in the rival OSes. Having separate desktops can be very useful for compartmentalising multiple projects you are working simultaneously, or separate out your work and personal life, particularly if you are self-employed.

Cortana

Microsoft has finally joined the digital PA revolution with Cortana. Once again, competitors Apple and Google introduced so-called digital assistants years ago and they have proven to be popular. Microsoft isn't just aping the competition, though - Cortana has a great deal more personality (if a computer program can be said to have personality) than Siri or "Ok, Google", and it's no accident that she's named after the AI character from Xbox's flagship Halo series.

The more you use Cortana, the more she learns about you as well and will, according to Microsoft at least, ultimately be able to make proactive suggestions regarding travel, dining, leisure and other activities based on your assumed preferences, location, calendar information and so on. She is, perhaps, exemplary of Microsoft's vision for a single Windows platform across all devices.

Continuum

Continuum is another standout feature of Windows 10 that actually delivers what Windows 8 promised - an OS that is optimised for touch and for mouse and keyboard. With Continuum, when a hybrid device, such as Microsoft's own Surface Pro 3 or the Lenovo Yoga is in laptop mode, the screen user interface is the same as on any normal laptop or desktop. However, when it is put into tablet mode, Windows 10 recognises this and transforms into a more touch friendly UI. The decision of how to use this feature is ultimately in the hands of the user, however, who can choose to make the UI switch automatic, turn it off all together, or get a request notification each time.

Pop on over to our sister title Alphr to see why they agree that Windows 10 is leaps and bounds above Windows 8.1.

Featured Resources

Preparing for AI-enabled cyber attacks

MIT technology review insights

Download now

Cloud storage performance analysis

Storage performance and value of the IONOS cloud Compute Engine

Download now

The Forrester Wave: Top security analytics platforms

The 11 providers that matter most and how they stack up

Download now

Harness data to reinvent your organisation

Build a data strategy for the next wave of cloud innovation

Download now

Recommended

Microsoft launches new layered group policy feature
Microsoft Windows

Microsoft launches new layered group policy feature

5 Aug 2021
Epson EcoTank ET-5880 review: Phenomenally low running costs
peripherals

Epson EcoTank ET-5880 review: Phenomenally low running costs

5 Aug 2021
Microsoft suspends Windows 365 trials
Microsoft Windows

Microsoft suspends Windows 365 trials

4 Aug 2021
Google, Microsoft fight over documents in antitrust lawsuit
Policy & legislation

Google, Microsoft fight over documents in antitrust lawsuit

30 Jul 2021

Most Popular

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility
high-performance computing (HPC)

RMIT to be first Australian university to implement AWS supercomputing facility

28 Jul 2021
Department of Veterans Affairs signs a $497M deal with Peraton
IT infrastructure

Department of Veterans Affairs signs a $497M deal with Peraton

2 Aug 2021
Tesla Megapack goes up in flames at Australian battery site
Hardware

Tesla Megapack goes up in flames at Australian battery site

30 Jul 2021