The desktop environment in Windows 8.1 is pretty good.
This was not the message that Microsoft conveyed at its Windows 10 launch event last week, a presentation that had Microsoft's historically change-averse but financially important
business customers in mind. Whether the company was looking forward to multiple desktops and Continuum
or backward to the Start menu and the command prompt
, Microsoft's message was clear: we have finished undoing all that stuff you didn't like.
But regardless of the message, the Windows 10 desktop is really only building on the foundation Windows 8.1
and Windows 8.1 Update 1
laid. These updates restored the Start button, allowed desktop and laptop users to boot into the desktop environment by default, and gave the familiar Windows taskbar the ability to launch and switch between full-screen Windows Store apps.
After using the new desktop for a few days, I can say that it really feels more like Windows 8.2 than Windows 10 (the software isn't nearly done yet, but the point stands). And there's some indication that this was Microsoft's plan all along; the Start menu and the ability to run Windows Store apps in resizable windows were originally rumored to be part of an "Update 2" for Windows 8.1
, though those plans were obviously scrubbed.
So why is Microsoft calling this one Windows 10 rather than continuing to build on top of the two-year-old Windows 8? The answer is in the name.