Windows 10 includes a collection of new features that might seem familiar to some. While they’re hitting Windows desktops for the first time, these features have already been seen on Windows Phone.
Like Windows 8 before it, Windows 10 owes a lot to work pioneered on Windows Phone, but rather than adopting the user interface wholesale as before, Microsoft has opted to use the mobile platform as a testing ground for new features that can then be introduced into Windows 10.
Existing Similarities Between Windows Phone and Windows
The Windows desktop OS borrowing features from Windows Phone is nothing new. Windows 8 featured the erstwhile “Metro” tile-based user interface, which many preferred to bypass in favour of the traditional Windows desktop.
Metro, later known as “Modern interface”, was originally introduced with Windows Phone 7 back in 2010. While fast and easy to use, the UI had some frustrating quirks that made some tasks, like uploading photos to Facebook, quick to complete, but others, such as toggling mobile data connectivity required multiple taps.
At the same time, however, the unification of your contacts and the presence of Facebook (and later LinkedIn) updates in the People hub meant that you could stay in touch without installing the third party apps. This functionality was extended to Windows 8.1, along with improved cloud integration with OneDrive, included on Windows Phone 8.1 and the desktop equivalent.
Both platforms have had the benefit of an official online store, too, which is increasingly important as a delivery system not only for games, apps, and entertainment, but for updates, too.
How else is the desktop Windows 10 influenced by the mobile version of Microsoft’s operating system?
The Obvious Choice: Cortana
Anyone who has been following Windows 10’s development will know that Cortana is a key element of the new OS, and that the voice-activated digital assistant with a sense of humor first appeared on Windows Phone 8.1.
We’ve given you a preview of how Cortana will work in Windows 10, and it really looks like an exciting development that will give Windows an edge over Mac OS X and Linux.
While Siri is expected to hit Apple’s desktop OS at some point, the only way to enjoy Google Now (as seen on Android) on a desktop computer is via the Chrome browser, and even this will require that you’re also using it on iOS or Android. Alternatively, fans of Google Now might abandon Windows and install Android as their desktop OS, but this is an extreme measure, we think you’ll agree.
User Interface Elements
Let’s be honest: Windows 10 is designed for mobile and desktop operating systems. Many screens and menus, while already vertical, have been restyled to match the new Windows 10 mobile look, which in turn are based on buttons and elements from Windows Phone 8.1.
For instance, we’ve got the vertical presentation of the results of a search, as well as the All Apps list, Windows 10’s version of the Windows Phone Apps screen, which can be found at the foot of the Start menu. As with Windows Phone, you can even tap a letter in the search box to display a list of alphabetized squares, enabling you to jump to the section of the list where the app you’re looking for can be found.
The Settings screen, too, owes an awful lot to Windows Phone. Although this was partially the case in Windows 8.x, there is even less reliance on the Control Panel of old in Windows 10.
A key new feature in Windows 10 is Wi-Fi Sense, which uses social data to find open wireless networks for you to connect to the Internet with. This happens in the background, using data that Microsoft has gathered from social contacts also using Windows 10.
Wi-Fi Sense was introduced with Windows Phone 8.1. It uses your location to connect automatically to non-secure hotspots. Clearly, this isn’t wise for security purposes, so we recommend to limit the use of this feature to light browsing; don’t use Wi-Fi Sense connections for online banking and other services that require a secure HTTPS connection.
Windows Phone: The “Failed” Mobile OS That Is Everywhere in Windows 10
We’ve already seen that Windows 10 and Windows 10 for mobile are essentially the same operating system with different user interfaces and feature sets depending upon the device, so it should come as no surprise to learn that the next iteration of Windows includes quite a bit of Windows Phone.
What features are you most looking forward to in Windows 10? Tell us in the comments.