Windows 10: What’s New, and How Does it Perform?

James

Tech-Preview_Start-menu

As of today, Windows 10 is officially here. On the whole, the initial reviews are very positive, even if some might caution to wait a month or two before upgrading to avoid the early kinks and bugs.

So, what’s new about Windows 10, how does it perform, and why should you (eventually) upgrade?

What’s New

  • The venerable start menu has triumphantly returned, thanks to all those who have been complaining nonstop since Windows 8 launched in 2012. Windows 8’s live tiles from the start screen are still there, but they’re now part of the start menu, as you can see above.
  • Once we see some compatible games get released starting late this year, DirectX 12 can provide significant performance gainsAnandTech has a list of compatible GPUs.
  • The frustrating “hot corner” feature introduced in Windows 8 has been removed.
  • The “snap” feature from Windows 8 has been greatly improved, making it easier to snap windows without keyboard shortcuts.
  • Windows now features a “task view” similar to “mission control” on Mac, through which you can view all your current operations at once.
  • Virtual Desktops!
  • Cortana, a Siri-like virtual assistant previously only on Windows phones, makes her PC debut with Windows 10.
  • A new web browser, Edge, which is apparently lacking features that would make it a true contender in the browser arena (no extensions feature at launch, for example). Windows 10 still includes Internet Explorer, in case you need or want it.
  • New Mail and Calendar apps that integrate with your Google account.
  • An overall nice mix of the best parts of Windows 7 and 8, with a sleek new look.

How it Performs

In a marginally surprising move, Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 is the “last version” of Windows, meaning that from here on out, the company will work on iterations of Windows 10 as opposed to launching a whole “new” operating system. Given the ubiquity of the internet and software updates, it makes sense.

So, how does this “final” version of Windows perform compared to Windows 8?

On the gaming side, nearly all the performance improvements remain to be seen and tested. We’re told that DirectX 12 will provide huge performance boosts compared to DirectX 11, but until some games come out, we’ll have to wait and see how improved the performance really is.

The first game to support DX12 is apparently going to be Fable Legends, which comes to PC on Oct. 16, 2015. Gears of War Ultimate Edition is also said to support DX12, but we haven’t been told how long the PC version will lag behind the Aug. 25 release date for Xbox One.

For the most part, we’ll be waiting until 2016 to really see the benefits of DX12.

But what about general performance for other PC tasks? Anecdotally, some people are saying Windows 10 feels faster than Windows 8. Others say it feels slower. But what do the numbers say?

According to these CNET benchmarks, Windows 10 performs pretty much the same as Windows 8.1. For some processes, 10 edged out 8, while the opposite applied to others. This applied to weaker hardware as well as some stronger laptops and the Surface Pro 3.

PC World got some barely noticeable performance gains out of Windows 10 in a few games, but nothing very significant.

This really isn’t bad news, since Windows 8 was already great when it came to performance. DirectX 12 will be where the real performance gains will (hopefully) come to fruition.

Should You Upgrade?

Are you kidding? Of course you should!

… Eventually.

Windows 10 is a free upgrade if you’re currently running 7 or 8. So, what are you waiting for? (Other than maybe the first service pack. C’mon, Microsoft!)

  • Thanks for the succinct rundown w/ the additional sources. Hitting the share button now!

    • Matthew Zehner

      Thanks for sharing! We always appreciate it.

  • Neal Tan

    Awesome article, James! If i was on the fence before, i’m convinced to upgrade now!

    • Matthew Zehner

      We are glad you liked the article!

  • I just installed Windows 10 and have no regrets so far.

    Windows 8 always felt like Windows Phone crudely patched onto Windows 7, but Windows 10 actually feels like it’s own coherent OS.

    I decided to try an upgrade, rather than a fresh install, and even that went very smoothly. I haven’t even needed to reinstall any software.