This morning in San Francisco, Microsoft hosted an exclusive invitation-only event to 50 lucky journalists who would be the first to see its new inchoate operating system.
Terry Myerson, EVP of Operating Systems, started the show with gusto. He stepped out on the stage and said:
What should the name of the new Windows be? It wouldn’t be right to call it Window 9. Windows One? But unfortunately, Windows One has been done. The new Windows is Windows 10.
And just like that Microsoft knighted its new operating system.
One of the most salient characteristics of Windows 10 is there is now one application platform that unifies Windows across every tablets, desktops and smartphones. The disparate software versions between smartphones and desktops is a thing of the past. Hopefully this mitigates confusion and makes it make it easier for developers to create apps.
But that’s just the beginning.
Here are the top 3 facts you need to know about Windows 10.
1. Windows 10 was designed to feel like Windows 7
When Windows 8 was released into the wild, almost everyone complained about the garish start screen and the glaring absence of the Start Menu. Well, Microsoft listened to our complaints and resurrected a modern version of the Start Menu.
The new Start Menu offers all the features of the Windows 7 Start Menu plus a few tasty sprinkles of the Windows 8 Start Screen on top. For example, you’ll notice from the above screenshot that both traditional desktop applications and Modern App Live Tiles coalesce on the menu.
You can pin, snap, move, resize and rename the Live Tiles in the right portion of the Start Menu and also launch traditional desktop applications from the left side.
In Windows 10, the Windows 8 Start Screen and Windows 7 Start Menu become one.
2. A Delightful Desktop Experience
Windows 8 and 8.1 were clearly biased toward touchscreen owners which left all us normal non-touch people in the dust. Sure, there were tricks for optimizing Windows 8.1 for the Desktop but with Windows 10 there’s no need to fiddle with any fatuous settings. That’s because Windows 10 was designed with Desktop users in mind and it’s more conducive to Enterprise environments.
In Windows 8, Modern Apps opened full screen in a way that felt disjointed. The bifurcation between the Desktop and the Start Screen, gave Windows a mercurial, almost disconnected personality and didn’t make it very enjoyable to use.
During today’s demonstration, Joe Belfiore, VP of Operating Systems, expressed his thoughts on Windows’s dual personality disorder:
We don’t want that duality. We want users on PCs with mice and keyboards to have their familiar user interface
So in Windows 10, Modern Apps open like normal windows which you can drag, minimize and close.
I’m glad this Microsoft decided to allow floating Modern Apps because I think it really helps unify the app world with the traditional desktop world.
In addition, you may recall that in Windows 7 you can snap apps to one side of the screen. So people with large monitors can have a better viewing experience because you can have a web browser in one half of the monitor and Outlook in the other half.
In Windows 10 you can now snap an app to four different locations making a grid of windows. I think this will be a boon for desktop users who need to see copious data on the screen at once. I can envision people who work at breaking news companies or stock firms multitasking with this new feature.
But my favorite feature is definitely Multiple Desktops.
Yesterday, I showed you how to create multiple desktops in Windows 8.1 – well in Windows 10, Multiple Desktops is built in.
Instead of switching between multiple apps running on the same desktop you can now switch between entire desktops by clicking the little multiwindow icon in the lower left corner of the taskbar.
Belfiore says you could use one desktop for work and then have a completely distinct desktop for home. Multiple Desktops keeps everything separate and organized.
3. The charms bar is still hanging around
How did you feel about the Charms bar?
You know what I’m talking about right?
I’m not talking about that bar at the corner of your block with all the charming girls.
I’m talking about that slender vertical bar that slid onto the right side of the screen whenever you moved your mouse into the ridge edge of the monitor.
Many people found it nettlesome. I personally hated it because invariably got in the way when I tried to close or resize any application that was butted up against the right side of my screen.
Well, the Charms bar is still here, at least for now, but Belfiore said it will probably evolve as Microsoft tweaks functionality for touch users.
The Bottom Line
Windows 10 is slated to ship in the second half of 2015 but you can signup to test the technical preview right now at the Windows Insider Program. You can also get the full scoop about Windows 10 on the official Microsoft Windows blog.
So what do you think about Windows 10? Do you think Microsoft should have named it Windows 9? Are the changes significant enough to make a real impact for businesses?
Share your thoughts in the comments!