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A closer look at the Windows 10 Technical Preview

The first release of Windows 10, officially known as the Windows Technical Preview, is designed primarily to make life easier for mouse-and-keyboard aficionados who were turned off by the touch-oriented Windows 8 interface. Here's what you'll find inside.
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The Windows 10 Start menu blends old and new

On systems that have a keyboard and mouse attached, the new Windows 10 Start menu replaces the tile-based Start screen that debuted in Windows 8. A scrolling All Apps list, shown here on the left, lets you find, open, and arrange shortcuts on the miniature Start layout to the right. Here, I'm dragging a shortcut from the All Apps list to the Start layout, which automatically expands in size to accommodate the new item.

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What happened to the Charms menu?

On a system with a keyboard and mouse attached, the Charms menu no longer appears when you move the mouse pointer into a corner, and Windows Store apps (such as Tweetium, shown here) can run in windows on the desktop.

In that configuration, how do you get to Settings, Share, and other options normally available via charms? Click the three dots in the app's title bar to display this pull-down menu. Note there's also a Full Screen option at the bottom of the list of commands, which allows the app to behave as if it were running in Windows 8.

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Multiple desktops

It took nearly two decades, but Windows 10 finally adds the ability to arrange apps into multiple virtual desktops. You can display this interface using the new Task View shortcut on the taskbar or with the keyboard shortcut Windows key + Tab.

Click the plus sign to create a new desktop; right-click any app to display the shortcut menu shown here and move an app to a different desktop.

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A better touch keyboard

The Windows 10 touch keyboard now includes as-you-type AutoComplete suggestions. It's a big improvements over Windows 8.1, although the Windows Phone keyboard, with its new swipe-style gestures and ultra-smart AutoComplete options, is still the gold standard.

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Faster, smarter task switching

In Windows 8.1, swiping in from the left on a touchscreen device exposes a row of thumbnails on the left edge of the screen. That interface goes away in Windows 10, replaced by this option, which is identical to the one you see on a keyboard-equipped PC when you use the Task View shortcuts.

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A flatter File Explorer

The icons and navigation controls in File Explorer are even flatter in Windows 10, than in Windows 8.1. Two noteworthy additions are visible here: Clicking the Home icon at the top of the navigation pane reveals the Frequent Folder and Recent Files areas, making it easier to get back to where you were working earlier.

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You still want the Start screen? No problem.

For anyone who's already successfully adapted to the Windows 8 way of doing things (yes, those people exist), the disappearance of the Start screen is a disruptive force. If you're one of that rare breed, right-click the taskbar, choose Properties, and select the option at the top of this tab. You'll need to sign out and sign back in to enable the change.

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Send feedback about the Preview

A Windows Feedback shortcut on the new default Start menu layout leads to this app, which allows you to send your criticisms, compliments, and suggestions directly to the Windows 10 developers. You can also scroll through popular pieces of feedback in each category and vote them up or add your own comments.

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Snap Assist

Windows 10 includes the Snap features that have been part of Windows for half a decade, with some small but meaningful improvements. When you drag an app to the side of the screen to snap it into place, the new Snap Assist feature lets you choose another running app to position alongside it.

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Coming soon: switch between desktop and tablet modes

This feature isn't in the initial release of the Windows Technical Preview, but Microsoft's Joe Belfiore promised it's on its way.

The screen shown here is from a mockup that was shown as a video at the unveiling in San Francisco. On a 2-in-1 (convertible) device, such as a Surface Pro 3, detaching the keyboard or removing the display will trigger a prompt like this one, allowing the interface to adapt for use as a tablet.

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