When was the last time I actually felt excited by a new version of Windows? I think I’d have to go back all the way to Windows 98, which came out at a time when Microsoft completely ruled the computing world and Apple was on death’s doorstep. OK, so I do remember being excited for Windows 8… until I actually started using it. Windows 8.1 offered some much-needed relief but it felt like a transition to Microsoft’s next big thing. All of which brings us to Windows 10.

FROM EARLIER: How to skip the queue and install Windows 10 right now

 

I’m excited for Windows 10 for a bunch of reasons and not just because it means saying goodbye to Windows 8. In fact, Windows 10 promises to be the first major software release of the post-Ballmer Microsoft and it brings a lot of intriguing ideas to the table. Among other things:

Windows 10 will eventually make us a lot less reliant on passwords. That’s because Microsoft has embraced the Fast Online Identity (FIDO) standard that aims to replace standard text-based passwords with biometrics such as face, voice, iris and fingerprint scanning.

“With Windows 10, for the very first time Windows devices and Microsoft-owned and partner SaaS services supported by Azure Active Directory authentication can be accessed end-to-end using an enterprise-grade two-factor authentication solution – all without a password,” Microsoft explained when it first announced its FIDO plans for Windows 10.

While this doesn’t mean we can forget all about passwords the minute we install Windows 10, it does show where the future is headed and Windows 10 is the first step toward getting there.

I’m itching to try a new browser and Edge looks very promising. Google Chrome is the worst browser around… except for all the other ones. I’ve felt for a while that I’ve had Stockholm Syndrome with Chrome because while it drives me insane due to its notorious memory leak issues, I still think it’s the best browser available. I even tried giving it up for Firefox earlier this year and lasted only a week — for all Chrome’s faults, I haven’t found it to be nearly as prone to painfully slow page loading as Mozilla’s browser.

Happily, Microsoft is offering a brand-new browser for me to try with Windows 10: Edge. Edge has many cool looking features, including the ability to let you mark up web pages just as you would do if you were using a marker on a piece of paper and to share marked-up pages with people you’re working with that you can all work on the page using both touch-based and non-touch devices.

SEE ALSO: Windows 10: The 5 best new features

Edge will also try to improve your overall reading experience on the web by letting you save content offline through a reading list that essentially freezes bookmarks in place and lets you read them later even if you have no web connection. It will also sync your reading list across all devices so you can read them on your phone if you’ve saved them on your PC and vice versa.

While it’s still far too early to say Edge will become my new go-to browser, it’s definitely the most intriguing of any prospective Chrome alternative I’ve seen in a while.

Okay, okay, I’ll mention the new Start menu. I know this sort of thing drives many Windows diehards crazy but I really did miss the Start menu in Windows 8. I’ve been using Windows since the launch of Windows 95 and the Start menu was always my central way of accessing my favorite programs. When Microsoft took that away from me, it took me a while to adjust.

Now, however, it’s back due to popular demand and it looks better than ever. It will incorporate Live Tiles from the little-loved Metro interface created for Windows 8, however even those can be disabled with the proper settings. The bottom line is the Start Menu is back and it should be a welcome sight to all Windows 7 users who were reluctant to upgrade to Windows 8.

And there’s more: Added to these three features, it looks like Microsoft is going to improve upon some of Windows 8’s good features — among other things, I’ve come to love how quickly Windows 8 boots up, for instance, and how stable it is overall compared to past versions of Windows. Microsoft has also worked to make Windows 10 take up a lot less space on your hard drive than previous versions of the platform, which is something to cheer about as well.

All told, there are plenty of reasons to be pumped for Windows 10. And that alone is an achievement because I thought my days of being excited for new Windows releases were long over.

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