1. Windows Insider
My first experience with Windows 8 inspired bafflement and frustration. But I walked away from my first few minutes with Windows 10 with a sense of jealousy. It looks like a significant improvement, and I want it on my PC right now.
Microsoft is launching Windows 10 as the new face of both Windows and eventually Windows Phone. At one point during Microsoft's Tuesday press event, Terry Myerson, the executive vice president in charge of Microsoft's OS group, called the new OS "our most open, collaborative OS project ever." Collaborative, indeed. Microsoft is looking for user feedback, and what I demo'd on Tuesday may not be the same OS that customers receive next year.
Microsoft executives didn't even characterize the system as an alpha; they referred to it as a "build." So with Windows 10 tentatively scheduled to be launched around the middle of 2015, there's quite a bit of time to change, remove or add features before the system launches.
That said, we can still point to various features that embody the new Windows 10 experience, and will almost certainly make the cut. These include the revamped Start menu; the new "task view," virtual desktops and ALT-TAB features; windowed apps; and the new "snap assist" capability. Granted, I had a just a few moments to play around with each. But I quite liked what I saw, and if you sign up for the new Windows Insider program, you'll have a chance to form your own impressions.