Updated

Windows 10 review: It's familiar, it's powerful, but the Edge browser falls short

Microsoft has listened, and Windows 10 debuts with compelling new features—Cortana, Task View, a familiar Start menu—well worth the upgrade.

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Windows 10 charts a better course

Microsoft’s customers have grown used to floating lazily from one Windows release to the next...Windows 95, 98, XP...rousing as they bumped through the rapids of Windows Vista, then relaxing again as Windows 7 flowed gently ahead for several years. Then— SPLASH!—as Windows 8 landed, customers sputtered and swore. Some jumped ship. Since then, everything that Microsoft has done has been designed to lure customers back into that comfortable, productive world that Windows established.

For me, that’s been achieved. Windows 10 feels like Windows; I made the mental shift from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10 during the weeks I’ve spent with it as a Windows Insider. That was a very clever tactic, by the way, to encourage users to overcome their unfamiliarity with the OS as beta testers.

I don’t like the Edge browser. I do like the vast majority of Windows 10, even with the bugs. Microsoft needed an additional month or more to buff out more dings and dents on its new OS, but in the new world of continual updates, maybe that’s the wrong attitude.

windows 10 mobile phone home screen Mark Hachman

What’s next for Windows 10? Windows 10 Mobile.

Over the next few months, Microsoft will deliver Windows 10 Mobile, plus a few of the Windows 10 updates to the eagerly anticipated HoloLens and even the Xbox One. During that time, we expect a more cohesive Edge experience and—fingers crossed—some aesthetic tweaks to Microsoft’s apps as well. Only then will Microsoft’s ambitious Windows 10 vision be fully realized.

We haven’t changed our verdict, or our score, after retesting with the Windows 10.0 code. Download it, definitely. Not only is it free to the vast majority of customers, it’s a sizeable improvement over both of Microsoft’s prior operating systems. Microsoft, to its very great credit, has assumed a corporate persona of humility and responsiveness that it’s previously lacked. If there are problems—and there are—we have every confidence they’ll be fixed.

Updated at 11:14 AM to highlight the presence of Internet Explorer and the Windows Accessories folder. Updated at 12:03 AM n July 26 to link our previous story on Windows 10 benchmarks. Updated at 2:33 PM on July 30 with retesting following the release of Windows 10.0 code.

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At a Glance
  • Windows 10 drives the PC platform forward with its mix of powerful, productive features. Only a few bugs and design issues mar its shine.

    Pros

    • Free upgrade for Windows 7, Windows 8.1 PC owners
    • Cortana digital assistant is potentially powerful
    • Start menu takes best of Windows 7, Windows 8

    Cons

    • Still some obvious bugs at time of review
    • Thematically, some apps are just plain dull
    • Microsoft Edge browser underperforms competition
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