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Windows 10's new features: Cortana on the PC, Continuum, and more

Brad Chacos | Jan. 22, 2015
Microsoft showed off new, consumer-focused features for Windows 10.

That sounds pretty darn handy, and there are more playful commands, too: Telling Cortana to "Play my music" launches the music app, while asking her to "Please be quiet" silences the music. Nice!

Windows 10 for phones and universal apps
Belfiore then veered off to show Windows 10 on phones and tablets, including a brief demo of mobile, touch-friendly Office apps. Windows 10 for phones will basically act like an extension of your PC, featuring universal Windows apps that share the same central heart and design as their PC counterparts, as well as newly universal notifications that synchronize across Windows 10 devices.

Windows 10 phones and small-screen tablets will include a free copy of Office.

After the mobile talk, Belfiore showcased a rebuilt version of Outlook designed for PCs, tablets, and phones alike as a universal Windows app. Strongly resembling the Mail app in Windows 8-at least aesthetically-the universal Outlook map will sport a unified look across device types, packing touch-friendly commands such as swiping left on a message to remove it, or swiping right to flag it for later follow up.

Since many of Microsoft's apps-including Outlook-have their heads in the cloud, changes you make to a universal app on one device will be immediately reflected on other devices, as Belfiore demoed by actively editing Calendar app entries simultaneously on a PC and a phone.

Microsoft's bringing the same cloud-centric, universal app experiences to its core Windows apps as well, all powered by OneDrive on the backend. The Photos app will create albums from all your devices, intelligently removing duplicates and burst photos. A revamped universal People app will collate your contacts, while the Music app is also receiving a universal overhaul. As rumored, Microsoft will add support for you to put your music collection in OneDrive within the next month or two, so you can listen to your tunes anywhere. Maps will also be receiving Cortana integration, and she'll be able to remember where you parked your car.

This is Spartan
Also new to Windows 10 is Spartan: A new, clean-looking, lightweight browser built around a new rendering engine. It won't be available in the first Windows Insider builds, and it will only come to phones eventually, Belfiore said.

windows 10 project sparta markup web
The Spartan browser's annotation capabilities.

The Spartan browser includes a note-taking mode that lets you annotate a webpage, then share your marked-up, commented-on version with others using Windows 10's native Share feature. There's also a clipping tool so you can save portions of websites directly to OneNote.

Spartan also doubles down on the mere act of reading on the Internet. The browser integrates an updated version of the stellar Reading Mode found in Windows 8's Metro Internet Explorer app. Reading Mode strips all the ads and sidebar crud out of webpages, formatting articles so that they appear similar to a book. It's a wonderful thing. Spartan also taps into the Windows Reading List app, so you can save articles to read later, synchronizing the list across multiple devices. Unlike the Reading List app in Windows 8, the one in Windows 10 will let you save content to read offline.


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