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Based on what we’ve seen in Microsoft’s Windows 10 preview editions, here’s our take on which classic apps should be kept and which should be killed when the final version of Windows 10 ships.
One of the most important features in Windows 10 will be the ability to run Windows Store apps in resizable windows on the desktop environment. This will also cause redundancy with many of the classic default apps that have come preinstalled on previous versions of Windows. Based on what we’ve seen in Microsoft’s Windows 10 preview editions, here’s our take on which classic apps should be kept and which should be killed when the final version of Windows 10 ships.
Classic Calculator: KEEP
Windows 10 will have a new Calculator app with a revamped GUI to accommodate for resizing it in the desktop environment. It will have the same functions as the one that comes with Windows 8/8.1 (standard and scientific calculating, a unit converter), and add a mode for programmer calculations. Yet it still won’t be as full-featured as the old desktop Calculator application, which additionally has a statistics mode, and some extra tools, like for date and mortgage calculation. This trusty desktop Calculator is in Windows 8/8.1, but hasn’t shown up in the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview.
Most users who compose lines for the Windows command prompt appreciate the bare-bones and fast-running nature of this application. Sure, there are lots of third-party clones of Notepad that have more features, but if you really need such a thing, then you should be using a simple word processor anyway. Notepad has appeared in the Windows 10 Insider Preview, and it’ll probably be in the final release of the OS, which we think it should, as a callback to the history of Windows.
Along with Notepad, this is the second classic Windows desktop application that we think should appear for the sake of tradition in the next Windows and versions beyond into infinity. (Microsoft added Fresh Paint to Windows 8/8.1, and it will probably return in Windows 10, but this painting app is really for touchscreens.) And, odd as this may sound, we hope Microsoft doesn’t change a thing at all about Paint: Its charm is its consistent lack of sophisticated features and simplicity throughout the years. Even though its tools are limited, the pixel art that talented people have managed to make with them have a retro appeal and cult following nowadays.
Microsoft’s streaming video technology never matched use numbers in the marketplace against Adobe’s Flash, but it was at one point the required plug-in for watching content protected by DRM on major sites, like Amazon and Netflix. Despite this, Microsoft no longer develops it and will cease support for it. Silverlight wasn’t pre-installed on Windows 8/8.1. What happened?
Over the last few years, there’s been a move away from relying on the closed, proprietary Flash and Silverlight, and, instead, using open formats to stream video. This includes an open standard for streaming DRM-locked video, which is supported by Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and even Internet Explorer.
Sound Recorder: KILL
This dead-simple desktop application has just one button to press to start and stop recording audio from your device’s mic. The app version of Sound Recorder works about as simply, and also includes a basic tool to edit your audio clips. Both versions of Sound Recorder come with Windows 8/8.1, and were also together in the early builds of Windows 10 Insider Preview, but the latest Insider Preview no longer has this old desktop application version.
Windows Fax and Scan: KILL
There’s an app named Scan in Windows 8/8.1 and the Windows 10 Insider Preview, it doesn’t do the same thing as this desktop app. Scan is for scanning in images from a scanner. Windows Fax and Scan is for sending and receiving faxes, and scanning in documents with your scanner to send out as faxes. It’s so old school that it requires your computer be plugged into a telephone line. Yes, that’s right: Your computer needs to have a dial-up modem. (To be fair, alternately, you can connect your computer to a fax server.) So, surely, Windows Fax and Scan will not return for Windows 10? We wouldn’t count against it. This application has shown up in the Windows 10 Insider Preview.
Windows Journal: KILL
Here’s a good example of a classic Windows desktop application that should be retired to let its better Windows Store app successor fully take over. The OneNote app effectively does the same things as Windows Journal, and more. OneNote has been preinstalled in the Windows 10 Insider Preview -- but so has Windows Journal. Windows Journal’s name perhaps failed to convey accurately what it was designed for: jotting down handwritten notes, and sketching doodles, with a digital pen. Although typed text can be entered onto a note, you do so by first adding a graphical element (a text box) and then typing. This application’s GUI also muddled perceptions of how you’re supposed to use it since it looks like one for a text editor.
Windows Media Player: KILL
At one time, Microsoft angled for this media player to be the main application in their grand vision of a Windows home media center. Now, it’s pretty much hidden under the Windows Accessories folder/group of Windows 8/8.1, which also comes with two apps for playing media. The simply named Music and Video also let users buy music, movies and TV shows as downloads or streams. The current Windows 10 Insider Preview includes new versions of these apps, called Music Preview and Video Preview. Since both apps will run under Windows 10 in resizable windows in the desktop environment, Microsoft should probably not include Windows Media Player in the final Windows 10 release.
Along with Notepad, WordPad is the other text editor that has been in recent versions of Windows including the Windows 10 Insider Preview. It’s a surprisingly capable, basic word processor. It has a decent font selection; line, paragraph and spacing adjustment; plus the ability to insert images into your document; and to save documents in RTF or Microsoft Office DOCX formats. It’s probably safe to assume that WordPad will be in Windows 10.
XPS Viewer: KILL
Like Silverlight, XPS was devised by Microsoft to compete against another Adobe format (this one being PDF), and, obviously, never achieved widespread adoption. Unlike Silverlight, Microsoft hasn’t officially stopped developing XPS, though they haven’t talked it in over six years. Both an application for viewing XPS documents (XPS Viewer) and a driver to print documents into the format (XPS Document Writer) come with Windows 8/8.1 and appear in the Windows 10 Insider Preview. We think it’s time that Microsoft quietly admit defeat and get rid of both things. When’s the last time, if ever, you’ve looked at an XPS document… or even knew what XPS was before reading this?
16 November 2023