Windows 10 is nearly baked
Although Microsoft won’t release the “final” version of Windows 10 for almost two months, we’re nearing the end. Microsoft has said it's moved most of its development to polishing Windows 10, squashing bugs and tweaking the way it looks and feels.
Throughout the process, however, Microsoft has encouraged users and testers within its Insider program to solicit ideas and feedback on Windows 10. The Windows UserVoice forums are stuffed with hundreds of feature requests, some with tens of thousands of votes.
Not all will make it to the RTM version of Windows 10 due July 29. But there’s still hope. Microsoft will continue the Insider program even after Windows 10 ships, and will continue to add updates and new features through Windows 10’s lifespan.
Windows 10 looks very different than when it was first announced, and what users want has evolved, too. So what are the features users still yearn for most? We’ll show you. But boy, the first one looks doubtful.
Iranians want access to the Windows Store
Right now, Microsoft has blocked Iran from accessing the Windows Store, due to a long-standing trade embargo against the country by the United States government.
What Microsoft apparently hasn’t realized, however, is that the embargo was partially lifted in 2013. Iranian General License D allows some hardware, software and services to be sold to customers in Iran. Google led the way by opening its Google Play Store (but only free apps) to Iranian consumers that year.
The top request by Windows 10 users, with over 55,000 votes, is for Microsoft to lift its own embargo and provide access to the Windows Store for Iranian customers. “Why are u so selfish, we have right like other people in the world, we do nothing wrong. We’re just trapped in a wrong place. Open the store please, we need to,” Souroush Askari wrote.
It’s notable that Microsoft has already made concessions to Middle Eastern users. In October, the addition of a Persian-language calendar was one of the top feature requests for Windows 10. It has since been added.
Aero Glass forever!
In October, fans of the Windows Vista “Aero Glass” scheme had managed to drum up only 1,800 votes or so. Today, the Aero Glass movement is marching boldly forward, 49,500 votes and counting at press time.
“Microsoft is forgetting that over 250 million (75 million of them on Steam alone) are using Gaming PCs capable of driving more GPU and RAM hungry OS shells like Aero Glass,” the original submitter states. “Please allow us to have the choice to use the Aero Glass you so kindly provided in Windows 8 Developer preview and took from us in RTM.”
Well, there are solutions. Glass8.eu has released Aero Glass skins for most public builds of Windows 10. Microsoft hasn’t forgotten its very vocal Aero Glass fan base, either: Windows 10 Build 10074 adds the “frosted glass” look that Aero Glass uses in some of the builds.
Add Persian (Farsi) language support to Cortana
One phrase would make over 37,500 commenters happy: “سلام, من هستم Cortana,” or “Hi, I’m Cortana” in Farsi. Like the thousands of users who pushed Microsoft to add support for Persian-language calendars, so have Microsoft’s users begged for Microsoft’s digital assistant to speak the language spoken by about 110 million people.
While a Persian-language calendar might not be that difficult to implement, we’d have to imagine that inputting the proper phonemes into Cortana, training them, and then pushing them out to users would be a far greater challenge. It’s possible that Cortana might eventually speak Persian, but most likely well after the RTM release.
Tabbed windows in Windows Explorer/File Explorer
The ability to add multiple tabs to a Web browser is a staple of Internet Explorer and the like—so why isn’t it part of Windows’ File Explorer, as well? It’s a reasonable statement, and more than 29,200 people agree with it.
“Every other OS has this feature and Windows is severely lagging behind,” according to the submission.
Note that this feature is already available for Windows 8, via plugins like Ejie Technology’s Clover2. And just this week, Microsoft’s Matthias Baer said that Microsoft is building a feature called “Quick Access” into Windows 10. It’s not the tabbed windows that users want, but it does the next best thing: It places a user-configurable list of files and folders in a reserved area of the window that users can pin and unpin.
Customize the Windows 10 login screen
Over 27,000 people have requested that users be able to put their own wallpaper image on the lock screen, just as Windows 7 used to do.
Personally, I see no need for this. I’m sort of a nature photography junkie, and Microsoft Bing scratches my itch daily with gorgeous outdoor shots. Even better, Microsoft has recently begun adding them to the Windows 10 lock screen. So while I certainly understand why users would want to be greeted by an image of their beloved Dachshund or Mr. Fluffles the cat, I can’t help but hope that Microsoft continues its trend of reminding us what’s outside our office windows.
Mondo Messaging -- including calls
In January, Microsoft wowed us all with a unified, universal Messages app that seemed to include everything: Skype messages, SMS, possibly Facebook messages, and more. It was emblematic of the unified vision that Microsoft had for Windows 10, roaming across devices as its services roamed across platforms. Unfortunately, it’s reportedly now in limbo.
Undaunted, about 27,000 people hope that Windows 10 will include a revamped app that will “‘send/receive calls, texts, Facebook Messages, play/save voicemails on desktop within one messaging conversation.” It doesn’t seem likely that you’d be able to place calls from a desktop PC (Skype excepted) but you might from a connected phone. It’s all fantasy for the moment, though, apparently.
Fix the annoying thumbnail cache deletion bug!
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
Almost every time you open a folder with a huge number of images in it—my own “Downloads” folder is such an example—Windows 8 insists on reindexing virtually all of it. It takes time and can be a huge annoyance. And nearly 23,000 people agree.
The bug is still present in Windows 10. But phew! It’s officially under review. “The product development team has added new diagnostic code to detect and debug as they continue to look at the issue,” Microsoft writes. Thank goodness Microsoft is in bug-squashing mode.
Include LaTeX editor in Microsoft Office
Even though Microsoft’s UserVoice section covers Windows 10, suggestions for related apps sometimes sneak in. About 18,000 people want support for a modern LaTeX editor in Microsoft Office.
“In 2009, LaTeX was used to typeset 96.9% of publications in mathematics, 89.1% of publications in statistics, 79% of publications in physics, and its use is widespread in computer sciences, engineering, geosciences, astronomy, ecology, chemistry, biology, medicine, psycology, and political and social sciences,” the submission claims. It’s used for all sorts of textbooks as well.
LaTeX is public software, although its license includes an odd provision: Modified files must be clearly marked as such to distinguish themselves from the original. That might possibly break Microsoft’s file format. (The original license prevented any modified file from using the filename of the original file.)
Windows Update: a one-stop shop for drivers?
Why should users have to download software to update their mice? And their scanner? And their graphics card? And...the list goes on. About 17,000 users want Windows to be their Wal-mart of drivers, supplying everything they could ever hope to need. And you know, we’d agree with them.
Merge the Settings, Control Panel
Forcing users to find information in one location may be constricting for some, and comforting for others. About 17,600 people fall into the latter camp, arguing the PC Settings menu makes the Control Panel redundant, or vice versa.
And it does, really, especially because the Control Panel can sometimes add more granular options that Settings doesn’t supply. Still, both Settings and the Control Panel seem to be pretty entrenched inside the Windows operating system. We’ll see how it all plays out.
So what features would you like to see added to (or subtracted from) Windows 10? Tell us in the comments.