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Windows 10 gets Cortana, new Start menu

by on30 January 2015

New Preview Release 9926 tested

After Windows 8's lack of success and Windows 8.1 being a bandaid on a slit throat, Microsoft seems to have come back with something rather good for Windows 10.. 

Back at CES we were asked by industry insiders about our opinion with Windows 10 and we got a simple answer. Windows 10 felt like Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. It got the best and worse from both worlds. Windows 7 hard liners will like the fact that there is a Windows 7 like desktop and start menu that many wanted and missed with Windows 8 / 8.1.

Windows 10.0 Build 9926 introduces a few new things and the most notable is the Cortana voice assistant. It also comes with the new control panel menu, new start menu that expands, a new notification center as well as DirectX 12 that we have mentioned before.  

You have to choose fast update track and windows 10 Build 9926 will install automatically. You cannot move from the install screen as this will stop the download and there is no progress bar. We had to watch the WLAN transfer to see that we were downloading the new Build. Once you get it to your computer, you start the installation and after a few resets windows 10 Build 9926 is ready to roll.

Our test machine is based on Intel NUC Kit D54250WYK powered with Intel Corei5-4250U processor and HD Graphics 5000. The NUC test machine was equipped with 8GB (2x4GB) of Kingston HyperX Impact DDR3L memory, Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 Plus Bluetooth card and a Kingston mS200 240 GB mSATA storage unit. We have to admit that this Kingston-powered Intel unit works really well and that Windows 10 feels more mature than any earlier builds of Windows 10 we tested.

Cortana in action 

Let’s start with Cortana. You are naïve if you expected that this is going to work great. After 20 questions we asked, we were able to get a clear answer to “What’s the weather like” and get Fahrenheit and not Celsius answer. This is still great don’t get us wrong.  In case a bit more complex search we would get a Bing result opened in Internet Explorer. The question “Where am I now?” was answered by Bing map and a few other search results while “What is the time is it in New York?” got us a current time opened in Internet Explorer.


Cortana cannot answer what is your name question, What is my name?, or convert 100 euro to dollars.  The conversion worked when we repeated the same sentence 5 times. Cortana was insisting that “she didn’t get that” even after multiple repetition and once it simply worked. We did an experiment in silent room, no ambient noise of any kind but we noticed that the score got better when we got closer to the microphone and camera.

Convert Pounds to Euros resulted in  “Convert pounds to your house” is one of the clumsy examples.

Some things that were demonstrated back in December by WinBeta including adding alarms and things to your calendar do not work, but you can set a reminder in this version of Cortana, we also managed to play or resume music which is nice. This is a nice feature but so far away from being final and I don’t see you using as it is annoying when it doesn’t get things right, which is most of the time. Try telling Cortana to visit, it sends you to because the are the same things aren't they?

The new Start menu looks like Windows 8, with its pointless tablet like mode, and it can be resized to a Windows 7 look and feel,with more colors. The expanded start menu takes over the whole screen and it can easily be reversed. The new control panel looks cleaner and gets you as easy to options before. The continuum mode will let you use devices like detachable notebooks a bit easier. It will go to full screen mode on the notebook and once you detach it from the keyboard it will be easier to work on it. You can easily switch between standard desktop and continuum full screen. Task switch works really well on touch screens and with mouse too.


The Windows 10 Build 9926 feels really good and we could not get it to crash. This is a great achievement and we like what we are seeing minus the a limited Cortana that is should improve.

Last modified on 30 January 2015
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