Where Windows 10 stands right now

With Windows 10 out and betas careening off the edges, here’s what you can get and what you should expect

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Continuum and Tablet Mode

Continuum is supposed to make it possible to take your phone out of your pocket, stick it in a dock, and suddenly have a full-fledged Windows 10 machine. It’s a great concept, but so far we haven’t seen any hardware to support it -- all hat, no cattle.

Windows 10’s Tablet Mode is supposed to supplant Windows 8.1’s Metro screen, but die-hard Win 8.1 fans (yes, there are some) have been quick to criticize.

Tablet Mode: Windows 10 Build 10547

Tablet Mode: Windows 10 build 10547

Where Continuum/Tablet Mode stands

Continuum likely won't make much of a splash until some manufacturer (cough, Microsoft) makes a phone that's powerful enough to drive standard peripherals in a reasonable fashion. Even when it's working full tilt, you'll be limited to Universal apps. Look to the future. For now, it's a neat demo, but not much else.

In build 10547 the touch-first crowd gets a marginally better Start tile layout, compliments of the four-up feature in the Start menu. They also get a new snapping capability, which I found hard to use -- dragging an app from Task View onto an already snapped desktop lets you choose where to snap the app.

What we'd like to see

A real, working Windows Phone capable of supporting a full-fledged keyboard, mouse, and large screen, would be quite a revelation -- and I bet one appears this year. Or maybe not.

Virtual desktops and Task view

Windows has had virtual (or multiple) desktops since Windows XP, but before Windows 10 you had to install a third-party app -- or the likes of Sysinternals Desktop, from Microsoft -- to get them to work. Windows 10 implements virtual desktops, so they're actually useful.

Where virtual desktops and task view stand

Nothing’s changed so far. As in the RTM build, to start a new desktop, press Win-Ctrl-D, or bring up the Task view -- the environment where you can work directly with multiple desktops -- by clicking the Task view icon to the right of the Cortana Search bar, then clicking the + sign in the lower-right corner. You can move windows among desktops by right-clicking and choosing Move To. Pressing Alt-Tab still rotates among all running windows. Clicking on an icon in the taskbar brings up the associated program, regardless of which desktop it's on. You can create an infinite number of desktops. You can drag and drop individual running programs, moving them from one desktop to another. You can have Windows show you taskbar icons for only the apps running on the current desktop or for all running apps.

What we'd like to see

Different wallpaper for different desktops: There should also be some ability to name desktops and show the name of the currently active desktop somewhere -- perhaps in the system tray.

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