Microsoft Surprises With Windows 10 Preview

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

So what happened to Windows 9? Microsoft surprises many with jump straight to Windows 10

Microsoft has officially unveiled its next generation operating system, but in a surprise move, has opted to call it Windows 10, rather than the widely expected Windows 9.

Version Jump

Microsoft’s last OS release was of course Windows 8.1, and earlier this week it was reported that the next operating system would be a free upgrade for all Windows 8 users, but this has still not been officially confirmed.

It is also not clear at this time whether it will be a free upgrade for users of earlier Windows versions, such as Windows 7 or Vista.

So why the version jump from 8.1 to 10?

The simplest answer seems to be that Microsoft chose to ignore the Windows 9 tag altogether because in today’s world where devices outnumber people, it wants a totally new Windows operating system that is a “unified platform that adapts across a family of devices to the way people and organisations work.”

Essentially then, Microsoft is positioning Windows 10 to run across a wide range of devices – from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise data centres. It said some of these devices will have 4 inch screens – some have 80 inch screens – and some won’t have screens at all. So Windows 10 aims to unify its ecosystem across PC, mobile and Xbox gaming platforms.

“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,” said Microsoft. “Windows 10 will deliver the right experience on the right device at the right time. It will be our most comprehensive platform ever.”

“Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows, unlocking new experiences to give customers new ways to work, play and connect,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems group at Microsoft. “This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead.”

Win10startMenu1Under The Hood

So what does the new OS include? Well for starters the familiar Start menu is back, but it brings with it a new customisable space for your favourite apps and Live Tiles (from Windows Phone), where users can place their favourite apps, people and websites.

So on the surface it seems that Microsoft has dropped its controversial tiled “Metro” user interface. Instead, Microsoft is using a combination of live tiles within the new Start Menu space. Redmond is also seeking to give users a more traditional Windows experience that incorporates both touch, keyboard, and mouse inputs.

A search option is located on the taskbar, as well as the Start menu, which will deliver search results both from the PC and the web. Users can also have four apps “snapped” on the same screen with a new quadrant layout, and there is a new task-view button on the taskbar for quick switching between open files and quick access to any desktop.

Speaking of desktops, users can also create multiple desktops for different purposes and projects For example users can create a desktop for the things they do at work, but also create a desktop for the things they do at home. Users can switch between these desktops easily and pick up where they left off on each desktop.

File Explorer has also been worked on and it now displays recent files and frequently visited folders making it faster to find files. Microsoft also said that is has included “enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection features,” in the new OS.

A quick video tour of the new Windows 10 can be found here.

For the adventurous, a tech preview of the new operating system can be downloaded, but users should be aware that it is not a finished and polished product, and is still a work in progress.

Tech Preview users are encouraged to provide Microsoft with their feedback and thoughts on the new OS.

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