The Critics’ View: Windows 10 And The Future Of Microsoft

Microsoft took the wraps off Windows 10, its next operating system yesterday, claiming that it will herald a new era of personalised computing when made available as a free update to Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users who upgrade during the first year.

“Windows 10 marks the beginning of the more personal computing era in the mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella at the launch event in Redmond.

“Our ambition is for the 1.5 billion people who are using Windows today to fall in love with Window 10 and for billions more to decide to make Windows home.”

Highlights include a refreshed browser which comes bundled with Cortana, called Spartan, and an augmented reality ‘HoloLens’ which could change the way we game and use Skype.

But what do the critics think?

A profile of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on his appointment last year

The Washington Post’s Hayley Tsukayama:

“Microsoft doesn’t just want you to use its products. It wants you to love them.

“In a lengthy presentation streamed live over the Web on Wednesday, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said multiple times that he not only wants consumers to choose Microsoft products, but to ” “love Windows on a daily basis.”  From start to finish, the company took pains to show it was turning a page and eager to show that it, too, can innovate and possibly even inspire the kind of cult-like following that its competitors Apple and Google enjoy.”

Kevin C. Tofel at Gigaom writes:

“One of the biggest news items coming out of Microsoft’s Windows 10 preview event is that the operating system will be made available for free to Windows computer owners running Windows 7 or higher. That’s great for Microsoft, consumers and enterprises for a number of reasons. But it’s not likely going to help the PC market which has faced sluggish sales for several quarters.”

Nick Wingfield for the NY Times’ Bits blog:

“Microsoft has a lot of work to do to win over developers of mobile apps. One of its best hopes for mounting a comeback may be its Xbox game console.

“Windows 10 isn’t a typical update to a Microsoft operating system. It’s designed, Microsoft has said, to run on any device — PCs, phones, game consoles and even the tiny embedded computers that make up what’s called the Internet of Things.

“Applications written for Windows 10 on one of these devices can, with some modification by developers, run on the others. Exactly how much modification is a matter of some debate among developers, partly because Microsoft hasn’t yet revealed enough detail on the process. There is a fair amount of developer skepticism that an app written for a PC, with its mouse and keyboard, can easily be tweaked to run on a tablet, which relies on a touchscreen.

“If the company can deliver on this vision of universal apps that run across different devices, games could be one of the most intriguing tests of its plan. Games are an area where Microsoft, through Xbox, has a lot of expertise and credibility among developers of consumer software. Games are also the biggest category of apps for mobile phones and are historically one of the big drivers of consumer purchases of new PCs.”

Peter Bright, Ars Technica:

“For the second time in as many months, I feel like I’ve taken a step into the world of science fiction—and for the second time in as many months, it’s Microsoft who put me there.

After locking away all my recording instruments and switching to the almost prehistoric pen and paper, I had a tantalizingly brief experience of Microsoft’s HoloLens system, a headset that creates a fusion of virtual images and the real world. While production HoloLens systems will be self-contained and cord-free, the developer units we used had a large compute unit worn on a neck strap and an umbilical cord for power. Production hardware will automatically measure the interpupillary distance and calibrate itself accordingly; the dev kits need this to be measured manually and punched in. The dev kits were also heavy, unwieldy, fragile, and didn’t really fit on or around my glasses, making them uncomfortable to boot. But even with this clumsy hardware, the experience was nothing short of magical.”

Dan Frommer, Quartz:

One of the more surprising Windows 10 features the company announced was its price: zero. Specifically, an upgrade to Windows 10 will be free for 12 months after it launches later this year for people using Windows 7 or Windows 8, its two most recent releases.

Why? Because Microsoft simply needs as many people as possible using Windows 10. This is why:

  • Several of its new features—including apps that run on Windows PCs, smartphones, and Xboxes—will only truly succeed if Windows 10 is widely adopted. Windows 8, its previous version, wasn’t.
  • Software developers—who have focused on Apple’s iOS, Google Android, and the web—stand to get more excited about Windows 10 if it has more users.
  • Meanwhile, Apple—which offers free OS updates for Macs, iPhones, and iPads—has been steadily gaining market share.

How much do you know about Microsoft Windows Phone? Take our quiz here!

Ben Sullivan

Ben covers web and technology giants such as Google, Amazon, and Microsoft and their impact on the cloud computing industry, whilst also writing about data centre players and their increasing importance in Europe. He also covers future technologies such as drones, aerospace, science, and the effect of technology on the environment.

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