Windows 10 vs Windows 8.1 – Improvements that make a Difference

In the latest January Technical Preview, Microsoft has updated the Windows 10 OS to Build 9926. With over 2 million Windows Insider Program preview users trying the “One” OS and giving feedback, Microsoft has made significant changes to its newest features.

Windows 8 lacked some basic options like the Start Menu. With 8.1 update and Update 1 release, some of it were amended. But with 10, the improvements are still better. One can see a unified OS and features, for the desktop, phone and the tablet.

Boot Speed Comparison

In the latest YouTube video by Antony Woolmer, he compared the boot speeds of Windows 10 and 8.1. The system configuration can be seen in this image.

Configuration specs for boot speed comparison

A dual boot comparison between Windows 10 and 8.1

As expected, the results were not far from dismay. Windows 10 boot speed was comparably faster than 8.1 by 2 secs. The latest OS clocked 14:23 secs while 8.1 clocked 16:12 secs. We were expecting that boot speeds difference would be large. But both were almost equal.

Cortana for the Desktop

Just like “Siri” came to Apple, a voice-recognition program to give answers to your questions was invented in the Windows 10 OS. This was already existing in the Windows 8 phones called as “Cortana”. But the thing new to 10 is that, it’s available to PC users also. So if you have a mic and headphone, you can get solutions to your queries within minutes, instead of searching Google for long time.

Cortana feature coming to Windows 10 desktop

Using voice and text recognition you can get answers to your questions

[Image Source :]

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Continuum Mode

In Windows 8.1, you either had the option of Start Screen and the Desktop mode. You couldn’t convert to tablet mode. But this changed in Windows 10.

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Now in the newest technical preview, you can switch back between desktop and tablet mode. This is called the “Continuum Mode”. This toggling feature is available from the Action Centre. Also this feature is activated when you add or remove a keyboard or mouse.

The new Continuum mode for Windows 10

In Windows 8.1, you had no option to change from tablet to desktop mode. This changed in Windows 10

Universal Apps

Using Visual Studio and Windows 8.1, you can build an app for Windows desktop and Phone at the same time. Development of Store apps became much easier with 8 and 8.1. If one had a Store app, one can easily supplement with a Windows Phone app to the same feature.

But with Windows 10, Microsoft’s vision of universal apps is becoming more clear and simple. With this new One OS, one can build apps that can be written once and run on a wide variety of devices.

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On Jan 21st, Microsoft’s operating system heads Terry Myerson and Joe Belfiore made it “loud” that Universal apps will fit into the Windows environment.

Universal apps feature updated in 10

Windows 8.1 universal features are less sophisticated. But in 10, these got improved and became one for phone and desktop

This is more like passage period for Microsoft developers. The development stacks for making Windows 8, Phone apps and desktop applications were quite different for a while. But with Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to converge Windows Phone with Windows Store apps into a single platform – the Windows Runtime.

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Control Panel Differences

In Windows 8.1, we saw a typical Control Panel which is the same as the 7, Vista and XP. Only thing difference was that you can directly type the items of Control Panel and they were available in the Charms search bar. But in Windows 10, we see new Settings Apps.  This is looking like a replacement for the Control Panel of 8.1.

You had small icons, large icons view in the customary Control Panel. But the layout got expanded in 10. You can reach more system options with the latest build. To lessen the learning curve, the normal Control Panel is available, but you have to use Search or right-click the Start Menu to get it.

 New Action Center

The Charms bar was an invention in Windows 8.1 This got removed in 10. In place of it, there is an updated Action Center that groups all notifications in a single window. It slides from the left side of the screen when you click the Action Center icon.

Storage Sense

You needed a third-party application to see the storage space left over in Windows 7, 8 and 8.1. But this is not much relevant to the PC. But if you wanted to know which files were occupying the chunk of your storage, you needed a program like TreeSize Professional. Windows Phone already had an app called “Storage Sense” which indicated the amount of free space left.

Storage Sense in Windows 10 desktop

How you can see different categories storage space in Windows 10 – Not available in Windows 8.1 desktop

But in Windows 10 Technical Preview Build 9879, this app is also available in the desktop version. This is handier in the case of tablets and mobile phones, where space is much relevant. With the advent of terra-byte storage hard-disks, it becomes much more necessary what category the space is occupying.

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For this purpose, you just need to launch File Explorer > This PC and then select the Open Settings icon on the Ribbon interface. In the PC Settings page, select the Storage Sense tab at the bottom of the list. In this you can see the Storage Sense page which will display the overview of storage.

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  • I have also noticed that gaming on iGPUs is much better on Windows 10 compared to Windows 8.

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Palla Sridhar

I love being a Microsoft enthusiast and Tech lover. I Completed my M.Tech in Civil Engineering from IIT Kanpur, INDIA. My interests include Blogging, Surfing, Cricket, Books and Social Networking. I find solutions to problems on Windows, Outlook and Office.