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.

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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.

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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.

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