Microsoft Announces Windows 10

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Microsoft is forging ahead with Windows 10.

Windows 10 start menu

Windows 10 start menu

That’s correct; Windows next big OS will be Windows 10, not Windows 9. What’s the reasoning behind the odd name choice? Microsoft reportedly felt that Windows 10 better identified the product. Sure the name may just be PR tactic to distance the new OS from its polarizing predecessor, but it also falls in line with how Microsoft is positioning the new platform.

According to the tech giant, Windows 10 is not only the next major upgrade for its long-running line of operating systems, but the first step toward an entirely new generation of Windows. Hailed as Microsoft’s “most comprehensive platform ever,” Windows 10 will feature a tailored experience across a wide range of hardware types — meaning that the user interface on a touch-centric tablet will be notably different to that of a desktop PC. Basically Windows 10 will utilize responsive design to play to the strengths of each individual hardware type, which is great news for anyone who’s felt hamstrung by Windows 8’s touch-centric control scheme.

While the user experience on Windows 10 will be tailored, all of the devices running Windows 10 will exist on a single application platform. This will provide developers with the ability to write universal applications that stretch across the entire Windows family.

For consumers, things are simplified as well. Applications will be consolidated into a single store, with one way for an application to be discovered, purchased, and updated across all these devices.

The early desktop build that Microsoft showed off looks a lot like Windows 7, with a few elements from Windows 8 sprinkled throughout. According to Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, the familiar look and feel is intentional. Microsoft is trying to make Windows 10 a more approachable transition for Windows 7 users, as opposed to the drastic changes seen from Windows 8 two years ago.

All Windows 10 applications will run in a window

All Windows 10 applications will run in a window

That same philosophy has also been applied to applications in Windows 10. In Windows 8 modern applications behaved differently than traditional programs, creating a fragmented and disconnected experience. Windows 10 opts for a more consistent experience, as Apps from the Windows Store (universal apps) will run in a window similar to traditional desktop programs. Just like any other application, they can be resized and moved around.

Windows 10 has done away with the “Metro” start screen, opting to add a series of live tiles in the right-hand side of the start menu instead. The left-hand side the start menu functions as normal with the usual set of pinned and frequented apps along with web and app search functions located underneath.

Users will be able resize both the tiles and the Start menu. Microsoft even noted that you can expand the menu beyond the parameters of your monitor, allowing you to scroll left and right to see a large list of applications and tiles.

Windows 10 will also feature a updated taskbar that comes with a new “task view,” which serves to show users all of the applications running across each virtual desktop; while your current desktop is primarily shown on screen. On the lower portion of the screen, there are thumbnails that will allow users to switch between desktops or add an additional desktop. It also allows users to snap up to four apps on the same screen in a quadrant layout. It certainly adds an additional level of control over the standard ALT + TAB command, which brings up every app currently running across all desktops.

What’s more, the command the prompt will now be compatible with keyboard shortcuts, as well as copy and paste. Admittedly these are relatively small changes, but they still provide a notable quality of life improvement for dedicated Windows users.

Windows 10 Task View feature

Windows 10 Task View feature

It’s easy to look at these changes and think Microsoft has all but abandoned touch controls, but Microsoft has remained adamant that Windows 10 will continue to support touch options such as the Charm Bar, though it’s design may change before the final OS is released.

Of course Windows 10 will implement additional touch-features from Windows 8, but Microsoft is remaining pretty tight lipped about the specifics. With its responsive design many of the features and options will depend on your hardware and control setup. For example, tablets on Windows 10 will start in a mode more akin to Windows 8’s Metro UI, in which apps run full screen and pressing the start button pulls up a full page of live tiles.

Devices with multiple control schemes (think 2-in-1’s) will also be able react dynamically with Windows 10’s Continuity system. A convertible device such as the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 will run on a similar UI to the one Microsoft showcased today when its keyboard is connected. However, removing the keyboard will cause the Surface Pro 3 to enter Tablet mode.

Microsoft’s first showing of Windows 10 was modest, but the company plans to deliver more details over the course of the next year as it prepares for the software’s late 2015 launch. Microsoft will be launching an “Insider Program” starting on October 1st, which aims to give the company’s most knowledgeable and dedicated users a chance to try out the new platform first hand.

 

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