Windows 10: Part 1 – Tablet Mode

[sc:windows-category ] So Windows 10 is finally out and I’ve upgraded all of my machines (it’s free after all).  I’ve been using it for a few weeks now so what’s the verdict?

That’s a complex question and I’m going to answer it over the course of three posts:

  1. Windows 10: Part 1 – Tablet Mode
  2. Windows 10: Part 2 – Desktop Mode
  3. Windows 10: Part 3 – Applications

This is the first and will be focusing on the tablet experience.

First off, I have to say that I liked Windows 8.1 on my tablet (both the Dell Venue Pro 8 and the Surface 3).  Having said that, Windows 10 is not as good as 8.1 on the tablets.

I’m not saying Windows 10 is bad on tablets, just that 8.1 was a more focused product and the move towards merging the desktop and tablet experiences has come at the expense of some of the best parts of Windows 8.1 on tablets.

So first off, the good:

  • Easily installed on the Surface 3, the Dell had a lot more trouble as it was low on disk space.  In the end I had to compress the drive to get enough free space to install Windows 10.
  • All of the Modern Apps I had on Windows 8.1 function great on Windows 10.
  • Microsoft Edge.

Ok, what’s the bad:

  • Both tablets, when they first booted in to Windows 10 had their screen brightness set to 100% and it couldn’t be changed.  In both cases waiting for the video driver to update and then doing a hard shutdown resolved the issue.
  • The Dell tablet was virtually unusable until the video driver was updated, chunky screen refreshes and general slowness.
  • Neither went in to tablet mode by default.
  • The virtual keyboard button is hidden by default, this should automatically be displayed when no keyboard is present.
  • The virtual keyboard no longer has the “split with number pad in the middle” mode.
  • The virtual keyboard no longer “pushes” modern apps up the display to make room for itself, meaning you sometimes can’t see what your typing without moving the keyboard up the screen, which is a pain in the butt.
  • The virtual keyboard doesn’t always display at the right time, especially during the login screen.
  • There’s no Modern IE any more, which is a shame as for tablets it is a much better interface.
  • The charm bar is gone, so any app that relied on it for the search functionality is now crippled.
  • The left swipe to bring up the task list no longer let’s you rotate through the running apps.  So if you want quickly switch between two apps a few times it now takes a swipe and a touch instead of just a swipe.
  • The full screen start menu looks off somehow.  Not sure yet if I like it or not but it certainly looks empty in comparison to the Windows 8.1.
  • There’s no longer a full screen application list.  In Windows 8.1 you could swipe down and get a full list of your apps, now you have a narrow vertical list in the start menu only.
  • Edge doesn’t support pinning of sites to the task bar, or “pretty” live tile to the start menu (aka using the site icon or the extended properties Microsoft introduced back in Windows 8.1 for websites to update live tiles).
  • Edge seems a little flaky still, crashing on some sites for no apparent reason onetime and working fine the next.

If Windows 8.1 didn’t exist, Windows 10 would be the best tablet experience by far, but since we’ve seen what a tablet can do, it’s hard to take a step back.

Of course most of these issues will likely get resolved in future updates, Edge in particular I expect to iterate quickly to add features.

Overall I can live with the change and don’t think it will have a major impact on my day to day use of my tablet, but the question remains, did the step back for tablets result in a big step forward for desktops?

Read next weeks post to find out!

 

Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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Greg

Greg is the head cat at JumbleCat, with over 20 years of experience in the computer field, he has done everything from programming to hardware solutions. You can contact Greg via the contact form on the main menu above.

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