One Windows to rule them all…
…or at least sort of.
Ever since Satya Nadella took over as CEO Microsoft has quietly been waking up to the ‘windows as a service’ concept, where the operating system is the platform not the product.
Microsoft like apple has been gently moving it’s mobile/tablet and desktop operating systems together however the current situation is that we have windows x86, windows RT (for ARM devices - generally found inside tablet devices such as the surface), and windows phone. The big change Windows 10 brings is bringing the systems together, to a point. There will still be an ARM version but windows phone will be no more everything will just be ‘windows’. Which possibly explains why the skipping of windows 9, with new systems becoming extensions of windows 10 with users upgraded automatically. This should create a much less fragmented eco system where developers can use the newest features without having to make everything backwards compatible. Here’s looking at you windows XP users. (Seriously, why?)
Microsoft recently unveiled some more details about windows 10 so what’s new and shiny?
Free to you!
Windows 10 will be released as a free upgrade for users of windows 7, 8 and 8.1. For the first year at least. The important number there is 7, windows 7 has the potential to be the next XP roadblock so getting users to upgrade is going to be vital in the push for ‘one windows’.
Not just the AI from halo, Cortana is already present on windows phone 8.1 but is also going to be integrated with windows 10. For those that don’t know Cortana is Microsoft’s version of a personal assistant, think Siri or Google now. Interactions will either be via voice or text with Cortana able to recognise natural speech like ‘will I need a coat today?’ (Of course you do, this is the UK)
Same app, different views. This is a big deal to developers at least, one app can run anywhere just with a device specific interface. From a consumer point of view this will in theory mean more apps and a more vibrant developer eco system particularly around windows phone. (Finally removing one of the major barriers to the adoption of currently the best mobile UX - in this author’s opinion. Which of course is correct). This is taken to the extreme of things like the settings app which will now be the same experience on phone or desktop.
Project Spartan is a new web browser which will likely replace internet explorer and all the baggage that goes with it. There will be a new extensions model and an updated reading view including syncing across devices. It’s cool to not like internet explorer, despite the most recent version actually being quite good, however Microsoft have been moving it in the right direction for a while so hopefully this new browser will provide that final step.
The start menu is back. Win! and with added tiles. Jackpot! That is all.
Because no product announcement is complete without virtual reality. Powered by windows 10 Hololens is a pseudo-virtual reality headset except it augments actual reality. Essentially what Microsoft have done is created the worlds first holographic computer - and ensured that the event has been widely covered in the press (I fear I could be being cynical)
With a potential release in Q3 this year, windows 10 is looking like it could bring the love that Microsoft are looking for.