How To Get Novel Windows 10 Features On Windows 7 Or 8.1
Among geeks, Windows 10 is all the rage these days. Yet most of its novel features have been around for a while, either as third party applications or within other operating systems. Instead of installing the Windows 10 Technical Preview , you can get some of its best features risk-free in your current Windows setup.
Tiled Start Menu
Windows 10 brought the Start Menu back. Of course they didn’t leave it at that. The new Start Menu incorporates the Start Screen. Adding a Start Menu to Windows 8.1 is a must and if you’re using Windows 8, you’ve probably done that already. And if you’re using Windows 7, maybe you’d like to try something new?
Start Menu Reviver 2 is a stylish alternative Start Menu for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 that looks a lot like the new Windows 10 Start Menu. It comes with tiles that you can customize to your liking.
Better Window Snapping
Snapping windows has been a thing since the introduction of Windows Aero in Windows 7. Dragging a window to the left or right of the screen would dock it to the respective side. Windows 10 takes this handy feature a little further in that it lets you select which windows you’d like to see next to the window you just snapped, a feature called Snap View.
Aqua Snap (our Aqua Snap review ) for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 builds on Aero Snap. While it does not offer Snap View, it does come with handy resizing and windows docking options that you won’t otherwise find in any version of Windows.
Windowed Modern Apps
One reason why modern Windows apps fail to appeal to a larger audience — in addition to a poor selection — was how they interfere with multitasking on Windows 8 . Although Windows 8.1 Update introduced some improvements, modern apps still behave oddly compared to desktop software.
In Windows 10, the modern interface moves further to the backseat, at least on a laptop or desktop PC. Consequently, modern apps launch in windowed mode on the desktop, and you can resize the windows, to some degree. You can emulate that same behavior with ModernMix, a member of the Stardock fleet of applications for improving Windows.
You can try ModernMix free for 30 days. To keep the app after the trial period expires, you’ll need to pay US$3.99 (discounted from $4.99).
Windows Package Manager
The OneGet package manager is part of Windows PowerShell , which comes with Windows 10. Briefly, a package manager is a pre-installed software repository or library from which you can pick and install and update software. It’s a little like the Windows Store, but with software available via packages of specifically curated content .
A more user-friendly alternative is Allmyapps [No Longer Available], a Windows App Store for desktop applications. Software installers can be downloaded via the Allmyapps web interface. To get the proper package manager experience , however, you should install Allmyapps’ desktop application, available for Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, and 8.1.
Another option is Ninite, which Chris Hoffman recently described as the only safe place to get Windows freeware. You can select all the applications you’d like to install and download a single installer from the Ninite website. When you re-run the installer at a later point in time, it will update your already installed apps to the latest versions. For automatic updates, you can purchase the Ninite Updater, which will set you back $9.99 per year.
Mac and Linux had it for years . The ability to manage multiple virtual desktops finally appears in Windows 10. To compensate for the lack in earlier versions of Windows, countless third party apps offer this functionality, of which we have reviewed almost all (see below).
My personal favorite is Dexpot (free for private use, find out more in our Dexpot review ). It supports up to 20 virtual desktops, you can save individual desktop settings, including background images and startup options, and you can drag and drop open windows from one desktop to the other via the full screen preview. As a matter of fact, Dexpot is more advanced than the virtual desktop feature that was built into Windows 10.
Microsoft developed a virtual desktop app called Desktops (our Desktops review ), available via Windows Sysinternals. Other options include VirtuaWin (our VirtuaWin review ) and BetterDesktopTool (our BetterDesktopTool review ).
Why Get Windows 10 If You Can Get The Same Features Elsewhere?
Third party applications can mimic functions, but they can’t recreate the full experience. Although often, as we’ve seen above, they are actually better than native features or applications.
That said, Windows 10 will be a major improvement to Windows 8. If first impressions of the Technical Preview can be trusted, it’s promising to be a stable operating system with great performance, even on older hardware. Many are hoping that Microsoft will continue to develop Windows 10 based on user feedback , meaning that new features will address what users like you and me are really looking for in this operating system.
What are you looking forward to in Windows 10? And which other features do you think are lacking in Windows and should be integrated by default or upgraded with advanced features?