TIME Microsoft

8 Hidden Features in Windows 10

The Windows team went for a "familiar and fresh" look, tucking the fresh features behind the familiar ones

Microsoft’s Windows 10 tends to hide some of its coolest tricks, maybe with good reason. Who wants to reboot their computer and find their desktop radically altered? That was the dilemma Windows users faced after they upgraded to Windows 8 in 2012. Microsoft is determined to not repeat that mistake with Windows 10.

Instead, the Windows team focused on a look that was “familiar and fresh,” opting to tuck the fresh features discreetly behind the familiar ones. Here’s a roadmap to some of the hidden gems:

Adjustable Start Menu: The Start menu will default to a narrow column, but users can drag around the margins to their liking. Fans of “Live Tiles,” those icons that quick launch apps, may want a broader canvass. Detractors can winnow down the menu to Windows 7 proportions.

Spoken Reminders: Hit the mic icon in the search bar, and the digital assistant Cortana will listen for spoken commands. Cortana can then feed the relevant information directly into calendar, email, reminder and calculator apps. Try saying “Remind me to get milk tomorrow at 6 pm,” and you’ll get a sense of the possibilities.

“Hey Cortana:” Really chatty users can go into Cortana’s settings and flip on “Hey Cortana.” The digital assistant will then wake up at that very same voice command.

Notebook: Cortana follows your search and browsing habits in an attempt to decipher your personal tastes. Cut to the chase by hitting the notebook icon in Cortana’s settings and filling out your preferences directly. More privacy minded users can also cut off Cortana’s senses by hitting “Manage what Cortana knows about me in the cloud.”

Refined Searches: The search bar embedded in the Start screen simultaneously searches your personal files and the web. For a tighter focus, you’ll notice two buttons appear as you type a search term. One offers to search “My stuff,” the other, the “Web.” Select according to your needs.

Forget-Me-Not Files: Can’t remember the name of that PowerPoint deck? Enter the file type “.ppt” in the search bar, and it will pull up every saved PowerPoint file, sortable by relevance or recency. Ditto, Word docs and Excel spreadsheets.

Reading List: The star icon in Microsoft Edge doesn’t just add a webpage to your favorites list. You’ll notice a second option to save a story to a “Reading List.” The browser will then automatically save the headline, the picture and the link inside of a handy side menu, which slides out of view until you’re ready for some heavy duty reading.

Marginalia: Microsoft Edge includes a pen and notepad icon in the upper left hand corner. Hit it, and Edge will convert the webpage into mark-up mode. Use digital ink, highlighters and text boxes to mark up the page. Use the share icon to email or save your web clippings.

TIME Microsoft

Why You’ll Actually Want to Use Microsoft’s New Web Browser

Microsoft's Internet Explorer replacement packs two big new features

With Windows 10, Microsoft is finally moving toward putting Internet Explorer out of its misery. But can Microsoft’s new web browser finally knock rivals Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox off their stride?

Edge, the default browser in Microsoft’s Windows 10, certainly delivers on the basics. Early speed tests suggest it can render graphics at top speed, for instance. Throw in a clean layout and the belated addition of a “reading” mode, and Microsoft Edge is at least on an equal footing with Chrome, Firefox and Apple’s Safari — and certainly a vast improvement over its wheezy predecessor.

But the true test of user loyalty will boil down to two new features that no other browser currently provides. The first is a search engine that tucks results into surprisingly convenient places. The second is a digital “inking” feature that makes doodling across the web a sheer joy.

Search

Microsoft’s Siri-like assistant, Cortana, fetches intelligent search results as you type in the address bar. Type the word “weather,” for instance, and the forecast automatically appears in a dynamic pop up menu. Replace it with a basic math equation, and there’s your solution. Ditto for quick problems like metric unit conversions.

Cortana also has a limited ability to curate search results as you’re browsing. Visit a restaurant’s webpage and Cortana’s logo may appear in the address bar, offering to show “hours, directions and more.” Hit it, and a panel slides out from the right-hand side showing a street map along with the establishment’s business hours, phone number and Yelp reviews.

While the functionality is limited only to some restaurants at the moment, the Microsoft Edge team says it’s racing to add more content. “You can just think of the most common activities on the web,” says group program manager Drew DeBruyne. “Shopping, booking travel, reading. Those are the classes of scenarios that we think are very interesting for Cortana to assist.”

And where Cortana can’t proactively suggest answers, users can highlight words and fetch search results, again, in an non-obstructive side menu. Compared to Google Chrome’s option to simply flop a new tab over the one you’re reading, it’s a huge improvement.

Inking and Scribbling

But perhaps the single most intriguing new feature in Microsoft Edge is the ability to snap a picture of a webpage and start editing it. The “ink” feature, which appears as a notepad icon in the upper right hand corner, takes a little getting used to. Hitting it snaps an image of the page and opens a toolkit of pens, highlighters, an eraser and text boxes, which appear in the menu bar. Users will have to decide how they want to use them.

“It’s not something people expect to be able to do in a browser,” says DeBruyne. “Even before there is a learning curve, there’s a ‘what is this for’ curve.” DeBruyne himself is curious to see how Windows 10 users might take the feature in unexpected directions. “Of course, we see some people using it basically for mustaches,” he adds. Here are a few other possibilities:

Wikipedia/TIMEAccentuate points of interest using highlighters
Wikipedia/TIMEAdd text boxes for heavy duty marginalia
Wikipedia/TIMEScrawl directly onto a page using digital ink

Combined, these features could transform the way we engage with the web — or amount to little more than a bunch of silly browser tricks. Which way Edge goes will depend on the willingness of users to reach out and touch the web, a habit that may not come easily after two decades of more passive browsing. That word “browser” alone shows what Microsoft is up against. But given Internet Explorer’s fall from grace in recent years — falling below 15% of the global browser market, according to usage statistics gathered by StatCounter — Microsoft has good reason to take some creative risks with the web, in the hope that users might follow.

TIME Video Games

Microsoft Is About to Make PC Gamers’ Dreams Come True

CHINA-US-COMPUTERS-GAMES-INVESTIGATION
Johannes Eisele—AFP/Getty Images A control of a Microsoft's Xbox One game console is pictured in a shop in Shanghai on September 29, 2014.

Eventually you'll be able to play PC games on your Xbox One

We’ve known for a while that Xbox One owners can stream games from their console to their PC once they upgrade to Windows 10. But could they ever reverse the stream, letting players enjoy PC games on their Xbox One console? Microsoft’s Xbox division head Phil Spencer certainly thinks so.

“Those are absolutely in scope of things that we want to do,” he revealed to the Verge on Wednesday.

But the feature will take some coding before gamers can get their hands on it. Spencer cautioned that it could be a “little more challenging” than getting Xbox One games to stream to the PC. “But challenge is good,” he added. In other words, they’re working on it.

Read more: 10 Reasons Gamers Should Upgrade to Windows 10

[The Verge]

TIME Microsoft

Why Windows 10 Users May Never Use Google Again

It could change the way you use the web

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 software, out Wednesday, is effectively a sneak attack on Google, packing a new desktop search bar that can field just about any question under the sun. And it’s powered in part by Microsoft’s own Bing search engine, meaning the move could help Microsoft gain even more of the search market share against its foremost rival.

Windows 10’s search features are a welcome change to the myriad search options currently sprawling across our digital lives. Right now, search looks a little like this: Want to search the web? Go to Google. Your calendar appointments? Open your calendar app. Your local files on a phone, tablet or PC? Launch finder windows, one by one. Microsoft aims to replace all of those searches with a single, comprehensive search bar that scans everything — your device, your apps, your cloud and the web — in one fell swoop.

The result is a more versatile search experience, but one that users may find momentarily disorienting. After all, we’re used to rummaging through digital compartments and wielding search like a spotlight. At first glance, the search bar in Windows 10 looks like yet another circumscribed spotlight. That is, until you start typing in commands. The scope of answers soon expands well beyond your expectations.

File searches work not only by name, but by file type. Type in “.ppt,” for example, and a list of PowerPoint presentations crops up in a pop-up menu, sortable by most recent or most relevant and accessible in one click. Searches for the names of apps extend beyond your device and into the Windows Store, fetching not only the apps you’ve installed, but the apps you may want to download, too.

When it comes to web searches, you may not regularly visit Bing, though it recently reached 20% of the search market share in the U.S. Windows 10 brings Bing to the forefront, fetching answers faster than you can type the word “Google.” Open-ended questions, like “what’s the meaning of life?” automatically opens up the relevant results on Bing’s landing page. As you type, Bing will autopopulate frequent search phrases (Life lyrics? Life of Pi?) before zipping the question out to the web.

Questions with more definitive answers, like “what’s 2+2,” come even faster with an assist from Cortana, Microsoft’s new voice-activated digital assistant. Cortana pulls the answer, (four, in case you were wondering), directly into a pop-up menu above the search bar, circumventing the web browser entirely.

And that’s where things get interesting, because Cortana can also use machine learning to display everything you wanted to know, but were too busy to ask. Microsoft’s group program manager for Cortana, Marcus Ash, showed TIME his personalized suggestions from Cortana during his recent visit to Manhattan. A stack of cards in a pop-up menu displayed nearby restaurants in Midtown.

“[Cortana] knows I’m in New York and knows it’s roughly lunch time,” Ash said as he scrolled through a list of pubs and delicatessens. “The list will change for happy hour and change for dinner later on.” Throw in stock price gyrations and flight cancellations, and the very idea of search as most of us know it starts to look outdated.

Read More: Here’s What Really Makes Microsoft’s Cortana So Amazing

Windows 10’s personalized search feature isn’t exactly a breakthrough. Google Now users have been seeing similar results since 2012, and Apple’s next big Siri upgrade offers similar functionality. But it’s a field open to competition, and winner of the search wars in the years ahead is likely to be the one that delivers the best personalized results right when you need them. In a sign of how far Microsoft has come, this writer, for the first time ever, used a Bing Map, despite my historical preference for Google, simply because it popped up first in a Windows 10 search menu. If that’s true of other Windows 10 users, Microsoft’s new operating system could prove an unexpectedly successful trojan horse for the company.

TIME Microsoft

See How Microsoft Windows Has Evolved Over 30 Years

What a long strange trip it's been

Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s iconic operating system, launched on Wednesday. Microsoft has given the interface several nips, tucks and full-on reconstructive surgeries since the first version released some 30 years ago in the early days of personal computing.

Flip through the slides above to see how Windows has evolved new features, typefaces and designs, while retaining that essential concept of the computer screen as a “window” onto the computer’s features. It certainly captures the spirit of the software better than Microsoft’s original codename, “Interface Manager.”

TIME windows 10

These 5 Windows 10 Features Will Make Apple Users Jealous

Smarter screens, snappier windows, smarter search

Let’s address the elephant in the room: Apple devices often just look better than competitors’ offerings. That said, there’s always room for improvement. With Windows 10, out Wednesday, Microsoft is rolling out a whole new batch of features — some long overdue, others truly innovative, and several that haven’t made it to Apple’s desktops just yet.

Here are the Windows 10 features most likely to make Apple users jealous:

Smarter Screens

Windows 10 has a screen sensing feature called “Continuum,” which morphs your device’s layout according to how you’re using it. Got a touchscreen? Windows 10 strips away the tiny menus and fattens up the buttons. A PC? Back they go for easy clicking. The seamless switch from tablet to desktop suddenly makes those 2-in-1 tablet PCs — like Microsoft’s own Surface lineup — a far more enticing proposition.

“These are form factors that don’t exist in the Apple ecosystem,” says Forrester principal analyst J.P. Gownder. “Apple has the sleek design, but they don’t have the diversity.”

The Windows Stores lists more than 80 varieties of PCs, laptops and tablets, versus seven at the Apple Store. Now that Microsoft is expanding its retail footprint with more than 100 stores across the country, it has a better shot at guiding shoppers to a device that uniquely suits their needs.

Editable Webpages

Windows 10’s new browser, Microsoft Edge, makes finger painting on the web a breeze. The new “inking” tools includes digital pens and highlighters that can be applied directly to a webpage. “If you have a static web page and you want to share something, the quickest way to do something is to circle it and send it to your friend,” says Gownder.

Snappier Windows

The “Snap” feature, which fits one viewing window alongside another for easy multitasking, traces its lineage all the way back to Windows 7. The idea is a no brainer. Amazingly, it has eluded Apple’s design team until just now — Apple has finally announced snappy windows will release with iOS 9 later this year. But Windows 10 users will go on using it for the sixth year running.

Broader Search

The search bar embedded in the Windows 10 start screen can take a high-altitude view of stuff stored on your device, the cloud and the web — making it a one-stop shop for all your search needs. In its finest moments, it pulls answers directly from the web into a pop-up menu, eliminating the step of launching a separate browser window.

Digital Assistance

Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, can go toe-to-toe with Siri on voice commands, but it really shines on personalized service. Microsoft took the unusual step of showing what Cortana’s machine learning algorithms have inferred about the user. Cortana’s “Notebook,” modeled after the notebooks kept by real life assistants, shows if Cortana thinks the user has a penchant for certain kinds of news, cuisines or apps. Users can modify the settings in an open dialogue with the digital assistant.

TIME How-To

How to Install Windows 10 in 2 Easy Steps

It's a free download for current Windows users

Microsoft’s Windows 10 is out Wednesday. That means the clock is now ticking for current users of Windows 7 and up, who will have one year from today to take advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade offer.

Ready to make the move to Windows 10? Here’s a quick and dirty guide to installing it. As with all major upgrades, remember to back up your machine first. It’s also a good idea to check if your computer can handle the new software.

1. By now, eligible users should have seen a pop up notification on their desktop inviting them to “reserve your free upgrade” of Windows 10 (non-eligible users will have to either buy a new Windows device or pony up $119 for the Home version). If you haven’t already reserved a copy, do so, because that’s how Microsoft confirms your eligibility and starts prepping your device, quietly installing files on your computer in anticipation of the big download to come.

2. Soon you’ll see another pop-up notification to start the upgrade. It will look something like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-24 at 10.24.17 AM

Hit that notification, and the installation begins. Download times can vary from 20 minutes to more than an hour, depending on your device, which should give you more than enough time to read TIME’s Indispensable Guide to Windows 10 and hit the ground running. If you don’t see that notification, you can download Windows 10 right here.

TIME Microsoft

Here’s How Windows 10 Could Kill Passwords Forever

Some users will get face-scanning technology

When Microsoft’s Windows 10 launches Wednesday, a lucky few users will be greeted at the login screen by a cartoon eyeball that appears to want to lock eyes with its owner. Do so, and it will activate a 3-D face scan that signs in users in seconds, no password required. The Windows team calls this snappy new login feature “Hello.”

“It’s our way of saying goodbye to passwords,” says Chaitanya Sareen, Microsoft’s principal program manager on Windows. Judging by Sareen’s recent demonstration to TIME, the feature is even more seamless than the iPhone’s thumb scanner — you don’t even have to lift a finger to use it.

“It’s actually using different dark and light shadows on the contours of my face,” says Sareen. “If it was pitch dark it would still sign me in.” That’s because Hello works with Intel’s Real Sense 3-D camera, which bathes the user’s face in infrared light, penetrating facial hair and dim lighting conditions.

Naturally, face scanning devices raises privacy concerns. Microsoft says facial data, like fingerprint and thumbprint data, is encrypted and stored locally on the device. At no point will it ever lift off into the cloud, according to Sareen. “Even if a hacker got [the data], you could still not reverse engineer my face, my fingerprint or my iris.”

Should those security claims stand the test of time, biometric logins could offer a more secure alternative to passwords, which are often still shockingly easy to crack. The most commonly used password among victims of cybertheft alternates between “password” and “123456,” according to cybersecurity firm SplashData.

But don’t bid farewell to your passwords just yet. For now, Windows 10’s Hello feature will only be available on devices that come equipped with Intel’s camera. That’s a paltry list of 11 devices so far, plus another four only available in Japan. Microsoft says it’s prodding hardware manufacturers to broaden the selection of devices equipped with 3D cameras, though the price of the technology may prove prohibitively expensive to budget shoppers. In other words, the hardware will take some time to catch up with the software before users can kiss their passwords goodbye.

TIME Retail

See Converse’s First Chuck Taylor Redesign in Almost 100 Years

Converse Chuck Taylor Shoe
Converse

Good luck spotting the difference on the outside

Converse unveiled newly redesigned iconic Chuck Taylor All Star sneakers last week, the first change to rock the classic shoe in 98 years.

Converse President and CEO Jim Calhoun predicted that the Chuck Taylor All Star II would usher in “not just a new sneaker, but a completely new way of thinking.” In reality, the shoe may leave shoppers wondering what exactly has changed.

The All Star patch is “fully embroidered,” for starters, and the eyelets now come in “monochrome matte.” So much for the exterior.

ConverseChuck Taylor II

Converse wisely reserved the biggest changes for the interior, upgrading the materials in an attempt to give wearers a more comfortable fit. The cushioning has been updated to Nike Lunarlon sockliner, a trademark foam technology developed by Converse’s parent company, Nike. A snugger, padded collar and a redesigned tongue were designed to reduce slippage. A perforated “micro suede” liner enhances breathability.

“The expectations of kids is that things will be broken in, ready to use, super comfortable, super functional from the minute it leaves the store,” Calhoun said in an interview with Fortune.

TIME

Sweden Investigates Mysterious Submarine Found Off Coast

SWEDEN-MILITARY-SUBMARINE-RUSSIA-SEARCH
Fredrik Sandberg—AFP/Getty Images The Swedish corvette HMS Visby under way on the Mysingen Bay on October 21, 2014 on their fifth day of searching for a suspected foreign vessel in the Stockholm archipelago.

Defense experts debate whether the submarine ran aground recently or as far back as WWI

Swedish officials say they are investigating a mysterious submarine that apparently ran aground in territorial waters two miles off of Sweden’s coastline.

Sea explorers with Ocean X spotted the roughly 65-foot submersible at an undisclosed location last week, prompting speculation about its origins. Ocean X explorer Dennis Åsberg told Swedish newspaper Expressen that the submarine appeared to have Russian cyrillic characters on its hull and no signs of physical damage.

The absence of a distress signal led one defense expert to speculate that the submarine may have run aground recently while on a confidential mission, while other experts suspect that the craft dates back to WWI.

The Ocean X team said it had partnered with Swedish officials to conduct further analysis into the submarine’s origins.

The investigation comes one year after Swedish intelligence agents detected a foreign submarine, transmitting Russian distress signals, east of Stockholm.

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