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By now you’re probably aware that Windows 10 has launched, but what you might not know is how good it is. So, how good is it?

Does it return Windows to its former glory days with the strength of Windows 7 and Windows XP, or is it an exercise in confusion and problematic design like Windows 8, or worse, a dismal hardware burning failure like Windows Vista?

There have been so many versions of Windows, and we’ve spent so much time with them all, so it’s time to see how Windows 10 really stacks up.

This isn’t a review

So we need to get this out of the way quickly: this isn’t a review.

At GadgetGuy, reviews are generally qualified by spending more than a few hours with the product, and while that’s a view that isn’t totally shared in this industry, it’s one we like to keep close (as a note, we also don’t agree with the term “hands-on review” used by some other publications, and when we see that, we have to ask exactly what a “hands-off review” would be in comparison).

So this isn’t a review.

What this is, however, is an extended hands-on, to give you a solid amount of information with a final build of Windows 10, which we received very late in the game (which is exactly why this isn’t a review).

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s get stuck into Windows 10.

Goodbye Windows 8 (left), hello Windows 10 (right)

Goodbye Windows 8 (left), hello Windows 10 (right)

Touch is there, but only if you need it

So the first and obvious point we need to address with Windows 10 is one Windows 8 users have been hounding Microsoft to fix since the beginning, since Windows 8 first arrived and tried to shake it into people’s heads that touch was necessary, even if it didn’t make any sense.

In Windows 8, touch wasn’t a requirement, but it felt like it was since the Start menu we were all familiar with was no longer a button-based dialog box, but a full on screen, and one that worked best if you could prod it.

Technically, you could use a mouse to get around it, but it didn’t really work well without a touchscreen, and you could clearly see that this tile-based screen was Microsoft’s attempt to bring the modern desktop into the 21st century.

Except it didn’t work.

Rather than pulling people together and making them feel like Microsoft had designed a modern interpretation of its staple operating system, it pushed them apart, and right into the arms of Apple’s Mac OS X, the iPad’s iOS, and Google’s Android operating system, with Mac OS X feeling more like a desktop operating system that didn’t need touch, while the latter two were better engineered for touch than Windows 8 could ever help to achieve.

Fortunately, Windows 10 is fixing that.