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Another year, another new version of Windows. Windows 10 is the next step towards a unified operating software solution for all of Microsoft’s many product lines, and it’s jammed with new features and layouts. Before you start cursing at the configuration work ahead when the new OS launches in the summer, take a moment to look at this from another angle. First, it’s a free upgrade. Free is nice. But what’s even nicer is that learning the brand new user interface will be the perfect opportunity to jump into a new technology together as a family. We all know that our kids are the fastest adopters of new tech. Let’s bring them in as full team members in the Windows 10 adventure. Nothing better to build strong family relationships!

Imagine that learning Windows 10 is like your first family trip with your loved ones to a brand new amusement park—we’ll call it “Windowsland.” You could try to control the experience by making an arbitrary agenda and plotting a set in stone route through the park but that will only lead to frustration and boredom from everyone. The kids want to explore, and admit it, you do too. Level the learning playing field and let interest and excitement lead the way. Hop from one interesting ride to another and another. There are a lot of fun new rides in Windowsland.

The New Big Thing: The Hololens

 

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The benefits of letting the agile young minds lead the charge will become apparent when Microsoft rolls out their showcase piece for Windows 10, the hololens. Using a special set of goggles, Windows 10 will overlay digital images on top of the real world around you. The hardware will track your gestures and eye movements to allow you to interact with the holographic images hovering in front of you. The big question will be shared, multiuser functionality. Will everyone gathered around the computer need their own set of goggles to see the display, and how much is that going to cost? There are still a lot of people who feel stung by the cost incurred to buy multiple sets of 3d glasses, and they’re not going to be thrilled about buying yet another pile of single purpose eyewear.

 

Better Security, At A Glance

 

Windows 10 will come with Windows Hello, a program that reads biometric information to identify you. It would replace the need for a login password, and it would verify your identity to compatible websites when requested. “How would it do that?” you may ask with a note of concern over your privacy in your voice. It would work like this: your biometric info (facial recognition, retinal recognition and/or fingerprint scan) would be authenticated locally by Windows Hello, but none of that personal info would leave your computer. Instead, your computer will generate an encrypted token that will verify your identity to Windows web services and 3rd party web sites that are compatible. This is pretty new technology for the home user, and it comes with additional hardware requirements. The facial and retinal recognition ability needs a compatible camera, like the Kinect for Windows, or an Intel camera with Real Sense. On the bright side, biometric authentication for user accounts makes it almost impossible for the kids to log in to your account without your knowledge-much more secure than a password scribbled on a sticky note somewhere.

Beat Them At Their Own Game

 

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Windows 10 will also roll out to the X Box One console, in keeping with the unified OS plan. So the skills and experience you accumulate on the PC will transfer over to the Xbox. You’ll be able to help the kids get the most out of the console, and keep a better eye on their online interactions and goings on. There’s no guarantee that your Halo skills will also improve, but it couldn’t hurt. And the shared operating system infrastructure will finally make cross-platform multiplayer a reality. Imagine everyone playing the same game together: One kid can play on the PC upstairs, the second can play on the Xbox One downstairs in the den, and you can play on your laptop in the bedroom with the door closed to muffle your curses of frustration. The wireless accessories that work with Xbox One will also work with Windows 10 PCs, which is another point in favour of upgrading. And it will also allow for Xbox One games to be streamed and played directly from a PC or tablet, as long as they are all on the same local network. Hopefully this will expand to remote play in the future, but for now the streaming experience is optimized for local area network (LAN) use.

Can You Hear Me Now?

 

Microsoft is bringing their virtual assistant Cortana to the PC. This application uses voice recognition to understand the commands you say to it. Voice command has come a long way from the shouted frustration of the past, and taking advantage of the option is advised. For the kids, voice command encourages their language and logic skills as they build simple instruction phrases that Cortana can understand. Will they also shout the occasional rude phrase at Cortana and laugh maniacally at the response? Of Course! 

Goodbye Explorer, Hello Edge

 

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Microsoft has finally said goodbye to their old internet browser, Internet Explorer, and built a brand new one from the ground up. With one fell swoop they have eliminated all of the historical baggage that comes with a program that’s been upgraded, tinkered with and modified countless times over the last 20+ years. The new browser is named Edge, and it has a few neat features in addition to overall better performance. It’s integrated with Cortana, so she’ll be able to learn from your browsing behaviours and offer suggestions as you go. For example, if you’re looking at a restaurant’s website, Cortana will helpfully pull up travel directions and display them in a sidebar along the window. There’s also the ability to make notes directly on a webpage, and then share the annotated page through One Note or via email. The downside of any brand new browser is compatibility with older sites, but web designers will be working furiously to bring their sites up to the new standards. By the time the new crop of computers are shipped with WIndows 10 installed, the incompatibility issues should be minimized.

Images from Microsoft.com