(Read Part 2 of our series on Windows 10: Is it worth the free upgrade to Windows 10?)

In our ongoing series on Windows 10, we have taken a closer look at the factors to consider before upgrading, as well as a summary of interesting features in Microsoft’s latest operating system due to release on 29 July.

Windows 10, undoubtedly, brings some of the most radical changes to window management when compared any prior Windows release. Of course, we aren’t just talking about the ability to run Modern UI apps in window. In this feature, we look at the improved window management.

What we are talking about is a whole new way to organise and group windows, new ways to lay them out and new ways to switch between tasks. One of the additions to Windows 10 is something Microsoft calls Task View.

Task View

The very first time you start Windows 10 you will notice two additions to the task bar. The first is a search box — you can shrink it to a button — and the other is a odd new icon that looks vaguely like the face of a robot monkey. A good sign surely.

The Task View might not be as keyboard friendly, but there’s always Alt-Tab, which now has better window previews.

A robot monkey is good enough already but click on it you will not be disappointed. This button opens the new Task View in Windows 10 that displays previews of all open windows in a grid. Click on any one of them to open it, or click on the X at the top-right of a window to close it. It’s also possible to use this entirely with a keyboard. You can launch it by pressing the Windows key and Tab [Win+Tab]. You can select the relevant window using the cursor keys, and switch to them by pressing [Enter].

This is the just the beginning of what this new view has to offer. On the bottom-left corner of this Task View is a button with a plus icon labelled ‘New Desktop’. This is where the new virtual desktops functionality of Windows 10 kicks in.

Virtual Desktops

For those who have used Linux or OSX, virtual desktop functionality is probably something you miss every time you use Windows. Well no more! Windows has finally come up with its own take on virtual desktops as part of its new Task View functionality.

Creating new desktops and discarding them is quite easy.

For those who’ve never encountered or used this feature before, the concept of virtual desktop is to give users the ability to organise open windows into groups often called virtual desktops and then switch between those groups at any time. You could group your windows by task (work, play, games) or by project, or by any criterion that makes sense to you. When you switch from one desktop to another, only the windows belonging in the current desktop are shown, and the rest are hidden away. How exactly this works is something that varies from OS to OS.

There needs to be better keyboard shortcuts to do this, but with a mouse moving windows between desktops is easy.

In Windows 10, you start with a single regular desktop, however you can create an additional desktop and switch to it using the ‘New Desktop’ button in the Task View, or a keyboard shortcut [Ctrl+Win+D]. You can use the task view to drag windows from one desktop to another. An oversight here is that there seems to be no simple way to move a window from one desktop to another using the keyboard. You can also switch between desktops and close desktops from the Task View. Or use [Ctrl+Win+right / left] for next / previous desktop and [Ctrl+Win+F4] to close the current desktop.

Snap Assist

Another major new feature for arranging windows efficiently is Snap Assist. If you liked the ability to snap windows to the left or right side of the screen introduced in Windows 7 you’ll love Snap Assist, which takes it to a whole new level.

Combined with the task view windows snapping makes your window layouts a lot more optimal.

With Snap Assist, when you snap a window to half-screen, you get a helpful UI to pick another open window to place in the other half. This also pops up when you have only a quarter of the screen left. It simply makes working with multiple open windows a lot more efficient.

It’s now also possible to snap windows to a quadrant of the screen; moving windows to a corner snaps them to that quarter. In fact, snapping is now more flexible rather than just working with half of the screen. To see it in action, snap a window then resize it a bit. Now when you try to snap another window next to it, it will use up the available space rather than always snapping to half the screen. Of course most of this is accessible via keyboard.

All of these features are a huge boon to those who tend to go overboard with open windows. If that sounds like you, this itself should probably be enough to convince you to jump at Windows 10.

(Read Part 4 of our series on Windows 10: Everyone’s excited about Windows 10, but what’s the real deal?)

Publish date: July 24, 2015 5:22 pm| Modified date: July 28, 2015 7:24 pm

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