Microsoft didn’t exactly please its business audience with Windows 8.1 – adoption has been awfully slow. (And now will likely halt with this new version on the horizon.) To that end, Microsoft even noted that the company is “looking to find the balance, so that all the Windows 7 users get a familiar experience on the devices they already have.”

With Windows 10 still in its pre-release stages, early adopters are very excited about its features and how it is better than its predecessor in many ways.

Let’s start by answering the most common questions first:

  • Where’s Windows 9? Perhaps the biggest surprise that Microsoft pulled with its new operating system is that it’s skipping 9 and heading straight to 10.
  • What is it? A complete operating system update for Windows
  • When is it out? Definitely summer, but possibly late July 2015
  • What will it cost? For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, it will be free for one year

How does Windows 10 differ than Windows 8.1? Below is just a small list of ways:

Better search
Microsoft first implemented a search bar in the Start menu in Windows 7; just open the Start menu and start typing to search for files and programs on your computer. The old search bar is still there in Windows 10’s Start menu, but now, users can also activate the search dialog by clicking the new magnifying-glass button on the taskbar. More important, the search functionality has been improved, giving you quicker and more accurate results when you search for recently opened files or folders. You can even search for Web content from the search bar now; Web results will be returned alongside other search results, with an icon to indicate that it’s a Web page.

Virtual desktops
As you move through your typical workday, you probably use different apps at different times. That’s why the new virtual desktop functionality — dubbed Task View — in Windows 10 might be useful. It’s a handy multitasking feature that lets you create as many “desktops” as you like, each with different apps open, and switch between them on the fly. For example, you might create one desktop that always has Microsoft Excel, the calculator app and your favorite finance software open. When you’re done crunching numbers, you can keep those apps open and running so they’re ready to use, but switch to a different desktop so they aren’t cluttering up your workspace. Switching between desktops is as easy as clicking a button on the taskbar.

File security
Though not many details have been announced, Microsoft hinted at a new micro-level security feature that can help you keep your work files safe. Instead of running enterprise apps inside a secure “container” that can’t be accessed by other apps on your computer, Windows 10 is capable of employing data separation at the file level. That way, files stay secure no matter where they go — even when you move them from your PC to a mobile device, email them to a co-worker or upload them to the cloud.

Top apps for your summer travels:

Proper planning makes all the difference between a rushed, stressful trip and a restful, worry-free vacation. Luckily, applications designed for smartphones and tablets are here to help. From applications that help with planning your trip, generating your itinerary and applications that provide “crowd-sourced” reviews of destinations, there is no shortage of apps to ensure a smooth vacation. Here are a selection of apps we feel could be of great use to travelers.

Hipmunk
Hipmunk (Android, iOS) presents a fast, all-in-one travel planning and booking solution, with a powerful flight and hotel search engine, as well as easy in-app booking. In addition to the usual flight search criteria such as price, Hipmunk also includes an agony index for flight duration, number of stops and other factors. Users can also take advantage of last minute hotel deals, view reviews from TripAdvisor and other sources, and check out heat maps that show hotel proximity to shopping, dining and entertainment venues.

SkyScanner
SkyScanner (Android, iOS) is a great tool for travelers looking for the perfect deal on domestic and international flights. SkyScanner works by comparing prices across millions of flights and hundreds of airlines. From there, users can even book flights directly from the app with provided links to travel agents or airlines. Flights can be filtered by airline, cabin class, price or takeoff and landing times, with weekly or monthly chart views to check out prices over time.

TripAdvisor
TripAdvisor (Android, iOS) is your crowd-sourced guide to hotels, restaurants, and attractions worldwide. TripAdvisor allows you to browse through millions of reviews, images, and videos featuring various establishments worldwide. You can also access contact details; search for nearby establishments; explore restaurants by food type, price range, or rating; check out air fares; and even add to the knowledge base by posting your own reviews, images, and entries for the places you visit.

Kayak
Kayak’s mobile app (Android, iOS) provides users with a flexible assistant for searching for and booking rental cars, flights, hotels and more. Compare deals, book flights and accommodation, track your flights and manage your itinerary from Kayak’s convenient mobile app. It’s a great, centralized tool for keeping track of everything you’ll need to arrange getting to and from your travel destinations.

Airbnb
Airbnb (Android, iOS) is a marketplace app that allows users to search for and find unique accommodations across the world, from mom-and-pop B&B gigs for a night, to a small apartment for a week, or even a castle for a month, there’s no shortage of quirky and unique establishments. Airbnb covers a range of price points in more than 34,000 cities and across almost 200 countries, which means the adventurous or flexible traveler has some interesting choices for accommodations for their next vacation.

This blog was originally published in Business Pulse Magazine.