Microsoft Announces Windows 10 - InformationWeek
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9/30/2014
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Microsoft Announces Windows 10

Microsoft execs emphasize the desktop UI, say Windows 10's final version will be shaped by customer feedback.

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Microsoft on Tuesday announced Windows 10 at an event in San Francisco. No, you didn't somehow miss Windows 9. According to Microsoft OS chief Terry Myerson, who presided over the event with corporate VP Joe Belfiore, the new operating system is so substantial, "it wouldn't have been right" to simply tick up from version 8 to version 9.

Microsoft's detractors would no doubt counter that Microsoft chose the new name in order to further distance its latest release from Windows 8, which has been criticized as difficult to use on traditional, non-touch PCs. Myerson and Belfiore alluded to this criticism, emphasizing that Windows 10's user interface will be familiar to legacy desktop users.

"Whether you're coming from Windows 7 or Windows 8, [Windows 10] will let you be immediately productive," said Myerson. He said the new OS, which won't be available until next year, will be compatible with the apps, tools, and systems that desktop customers use today.

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In a series of demos, Belfiore demonstrated how Windows 10 attempts to balance the needs of Microsoft's diverse customer base. Many changes are consistent with previous reports and rumors. For example, the OS will add support for virtual desktops and include a Start menu that combines legacy applications and Modern-style Live Tile apps, as expected.

But Belfiore and Myerson cautioned that Tuesday's preview did not provide a complete look at Windows 10. They said the event represented the beginning of a "conversation" between Microsoft and its enterprise customers. The OS will change as these conversations continue, they said, adding that Microsoft will address consumer-centric elements of Windows 10 early next year.

Myerson said Windows 10 will be the next version for the entire Windows ecosystem -- not just PCs and tablets, but also smartphones, and even the Internet of Things. This echoes Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's proclamation last summer that various versions of Windows will converge into a single OS. But Myerson cautioned that Windows 10 is "not one UI to rule them all" but a "product family with a tailored experience for each device" but common app and management models.

Mirroring moves already made by other Microsoft divisions, such as its Office teams, Myerson and Belfiore said Microsoft will build a better version of Windows by involving customers early in the process. To make this possible, the company announced a Windows Insider program that will allow interested parties to test early Windows 10 builds and provide feedback to Microsoft.

Windows 7 and 8 users can sign up for the Insider program beginning Wednesday. Microsoft execs offered few specifics about the program but said to expect additional Insider releases for Windows Server and other products.

Other business-centric Windows 10 features include the ability to separate personal and corporate data, enabling IT admins to manage the latter without touching the former. Some smartphone management products already take this approach, but Microsoft execs said Windows 10 will allow admins to manage PCs, tablets, and smartphones in this way. Windows 10 will let businesses set up a customized App Store to deploy Modern-style line-of-business apps.

Belfiore said that although Microsoft has reinvested in the mouse-and-keyboard experience, it hasn't abandoned touch. He said some of Windows 8's touch implementations hadn't worked well on desktops, but that others -- such as swiping to scroll a page -- have been praised by users. He said Windows 10's desktop UI will retain these lauded elements for those with touchscreen PCs.

Belfiore showed off a new capability called Continuum that allows two-in-one devices to more easily switch between keyboard and touch modes. Otherwise, company execs said relatively little about how Windows 10's tablet and smartphone user interfaces might change, compared with current versions.

Myerson and Belfiore declined to answer reporters' questions regarding how Windows 10 might change the company's business model. Myerson said, for example, that the company isn't yet ready to discuss pricing. They also didn't specify a firm date for Windows 10's final release, though Myerson said it would come after the company's Build conference, slated for April.  

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Michael Endler joined InformationWeek as an associate editor in 2012. He previously worked in talent representation in the entertainment industry, as a freelance copywriter and photojournalist, and as a teacher. Michael earned a BA in English from Stanford University in 2005 ... View Full Bio

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pcharles09
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pcharles09,
User Rank: Ninja
10/28/2014 | 7:58:28 PM
Re: windows app development
@Michael E,

I've seen some cool advancements in the OS. Unfortunately for Microsoft, I feel that most users usually stay a few versions behind since the usability is a big factor. Not only that but comfort. After switching to Windows 7 from XP, that was a huge leap with heavy learning curves. Now with the 7 to 8 migrations, it's more of the same. Now moving on to 10... I think a lot of people will stick with 7 for a while. Especially the business users.
SaneIT
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SaneIT,
User Rank: Ninja
10/3/2014 | 7:24:11 AM
Re: windows app development
It is hard to compare the three OS ecosystems but I do think there are enough similarities in their direction that we can say they are all headed to the same place.  We're shrinking the desktop and sprinkling it into everything we handle.  There have coffee makers that can be controlled by a smart phone app, thermostats that can learn our habits and use that data to lower our bills.  Computing is moving from the big box on a desk outward and no matter what your OS of choice is it will need to play nicely with all of those other computers (they aren't peripherals anymore).  I like Microsoft's approach, if they can pull it off I think it will be a very solid offering.  As far as the changes in Win 10 go it makes me wish some of this had been implemented in Win 8.  I think they missed the developer feedback or brushed it off and now they are adding some of the things we asked for when we first saw glimpse of Win 8.  The start menu is a good blend of old and new which in my opinion is going to be necessary to get corporate buy in.  I still hear IT guys saying "I'd never put Win 8 on the desktop with no start menu".  I rarely even drop into the Modern UI, if I need to launch an app I open the Charms bar and search by app name.  I'm assuming this is what the Microsoft dev team intended but it's just too much thinking for some people.
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
10/2/2014 | 10:40:07 AM
Re: What WIn 8 was supposed to be
Oh, thanks for pointing this out - indeed Windows 7 is good but it's not the case for Windows 8. I am not sure about the future of Windows 10. But at least the Start menu is back, which is a good thing to hear - I am a traditional fan of Windows.:-)
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
10/2/2014 | 10:28:35 AM
Re: What WIn 8 was supposed to be
I think the Star Trek pattern lost steam with the Next Generation movies. The last couple were stinkers. And then we got (at least in my opinion) two very good Star Treks in a row with the Abrams reboots. Perhaps they're alternating in pairs now... Anyway, I bring this up because maybe Microsoft, despite having selected an even number, can break the pattern too.

Assuming Microsoft continues to improve Win 10 over the next six or so months, I think it could tempt a lot of Windows 7 users. It looks equally easy to use but more powerful and flexible. Still not sure how well 2-in-1 devices and this Continuum feature will work-- but for desktops, Windows 10 actually looks pretty good.
Michael Endler
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Michael Endler,
User Rank: Author
10/2/2014 | 10:21:16 AM
Re: windows app development
Good point, though Apple's doing some interesting things to make their phones and computers work together better--e.g. the "Continuity" feature between iOS 8 and OS X Yosemite. Apple will probably be hosting a WWDC preview about whatever comes after Yosemite by the time Windows 10 finally hits the market, so I find it a bit difficult to directly compare their respective ecosystem trajectories. Microsoft's Universal Apps sound good in theory, but Microsoft's still developing the concept. It'll be interesting to see how Microsoft toes the line between making money from iOS and Android apps, and making money by advancing its own ecosystem. Those goals aren't always in opposition for all users, but they conflict often enough that Microsoft will face some tough decision.

All that said, and the fuzziness of Universal Apps aside, I think Microsoft's doing a good job with Windows 10. I think they're evolving the the UI in an intelligent way, especially with their efforts to give desktop users more ways to organize and interact with their content (e.g. Windows 10's Task View, which is something like Mission Control in OS X).
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
User Rank: Author
10/1/2014 | 6:02:32 PM
Re: What WIn 8 was supposed to be
So opposite pattern of Star Trek movies?
dwise321
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dwise321,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2014 | 5:38:40 PM
Re: windows app development
And OSX has been stuck on 10 for a while.  Now they can be more Mac like. Kind of like when Intel made the Pentium because they couldn't trade makrk a number (586).  Then they never got around to the Sextentium because everyone knew they wanted PEntium inside.
dwise321
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dwise321,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2014 | 5:35:56 PM
Re: Call it, Ishmael
You need to include 98 and 98SE (like windows 8 and 8.1) but you have a very valid point :)
GAProgrammer
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GAProgrammer,
User Rank: Ninja
10/1/2014 | 3:59:48 PM
Re: Call it, Ishmael
You missed 98. The SE version was arguably one of the most stable releases from Microsoft ever (XP in contention here).
dwise321
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dwise321,
User Rank: Apprentice
10/1/2014 | 3:49:56 PM
Re: What WIn 8 was supposed to be
I thought that only the odd number versions of Windows were any good [XP (AKA NT 5) , 7, 9].  Is Microsoft warning us that this one is no good either?!?!?!?!
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