Yes, you aren’t mistaken. Microsoft has decided to skip the ‘9’. According to Terry Myerson, VP of Operating Systems for Microsoft, the new OS is such a great leap forward that the company has decided to go straight to Windows 10 in the naming scheme. Okay…onwards.
It has been more than 2 years since the introduction of Windows 8, which was met with a mixed response. The touch focused Metro design and removal of certain iconic features from previous iterations (such as start button) proved too much of a change for many. This is apparent even now in adoption rates, which show Windows 8 is present on 13% of computers as compared to 51% for Windows 7.
The good thing is that Microsoft has been paying attention to the criticism. Myerson said, “We believe that, together with the feedback you provide us, we can build a product that all of our customers will love. It will be our most open collaborative OS projects ever.”
The new Windows 10 aims to take the best of both Windows 7 and Windows 8 and provide users with an experience that takes the operating system forward without alienating them. It will run on everything from servers, laptops and smartphones to the so-called Internet of Things.
The company was quick to clarify the concept for those of us who were getting chills thinking about the botched execution in Windows 8. ‘We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all – we’re talking about one product family, with a tailored experience for each device.’ Phew.
So what is new in Windows 10?
The much hated ‘Metro’ design that provided touch friendly full screen apps isn’t gone per se but it is optional. The new approach is called Continuum and it basically means that the company is trying to find a better way to switch between different modes depending on context.
This means that the beloved Start menu is back for standard desktop mode and this time it will be customizable and will incorporate Live Tiles. It will also be able to perform a web search. When you switch to a touch device, the OS will give you the option to use the full screen mode that should be familiar to anyone who used Windows 8.
The mechanics have not been made clear but any app bought from the Windows Store will work on all devices so it seems like the developers are going to have their work cut out for them. This should provide users with a uniform experience and if done right, could be an amazing feature. Another welcome change is that everything, including apps, now run in a windowed mode so they can be maximized, minimized and resized just like a normal window in Windows 7.
The ‘Snap’ feature that allowed users to arrange apps side by side has been improved and now allows for 4 apps to be displayed at the same time. There’s a new task view button that gives you a bird’s eye view of all open windows, files and desktops. It will also allow you to switch between multiple desktops, a feature that has been present in OS X and Linux for quite a while and has been sorely missed in Windows.
The naming gaffe aside, it seems like the new operating system will fix a lot of mistakes made by Windows 8. We are cautiously optimistic based on first impressions but we should stress that the final build is quite far away and a lot will change till late 2015, when the new OS is expected to be released.
Technical previews are going to be made available later this week through the Windows Insider Program for advanced users and developers. There is no word on price and Microsoft refused to comment on speculations that Windows 10 will be provided as a free update for existing users.