Windows 10: One OS for PC, Phone and Xbox

Microsoft’s new Windows 10 Leaps Down the Windows 8 Path

Some will herald the return of the Start Menu as a backtrack, and in some ways they’re right. But more than anything else, Windows 10 is a vindication and an advancement of Microsoft’s original vision for Windows starting with 8, which is: one Windows for all devices, from phone to tablet to laptop to desktop. Hell, it’s even going to make the move to Xbox One, though Microsoft was pretty tight lipped about the when and how of that.

Windows 10: One Platform for All Devices

If there’s one thing that Microsoft’s done exceptionally well over the last couple of years, it’s that they’ve developed a thoroughly well thought out vision of how operating systems ought to work. Windows 8x and Windows Phone 8x were steps along that path, and from the time both launched back in 2012, they were joined at the hip. And while that might have annoyed some folks, today’s announcement of Windows 10 as a single operating system to span all devices made one thing very clear: Microsoft is serious about this direction, and they aren’t backing off.

During the Q&A for today’s session, one reporter stood up and asked Joe Belfiore point blank whether Windows 10 was also for phones. Belfiore wasted not a moment in firing back, “Yes”. While we don’t have a lot of information about how and what that’ll eventually look like, we do know this: the edition that lands on phones won’t have a legacy desktop (thank goodness).

Time Keeps on Slipping Into the Future (with a little past along for the ride).

Check out the Windows 10 Start MenuThe Start Menu in Windows 10 reverts to a somewhat more familiar form for users of non-touch PC’s, popping up as a desktop overlay similar to the start menu of years gone by. This time around, though, it picks up the ability to display Live Tiles right within the menu. Also, the universal search feature that debuted with Windows 8 makes a welcome return, this time embedded both in the start menu and as an icon on the taskbar.

Windows 10 Task View Taskbar

From the looks of things, not much has changed yet on the taskbar front; it pretty much looks just like the Windows 8 taskbar. That said, it does get some new views, including the ability to create multiple custom desktops the user can setup any way they like–work, home, play–whatever.

Beyond the taskbar and start menu, Microsoft is now allowing Modern UI apps to run on the Windows 10 desktop as windows, similar to what you’re used to with legacy apps. They’ll still be able to go full screen, of course, which is handy for those of us who actually like to get things done in a distraction-free environment.

Windows 10 Snap Assistant

Finally, of the noteworthy additions to Windows 10, there’s an enhanced version of the Snap feature from Windows 7 and 8, which now offers an assistant to help you snap things in a better way. In addition, snap now supports up to four apps on screen at once, in a two-by-two arrangement that, humorously, looks very much like the Windows logo, its four panes each an app. From the looks of things, this can be a mix of both modern and legacy apps, which is pretty cool in and of itself.

So is the new Windows 10 pretty slick or what? If you’re in a hurry to try out the basics, Microsoft will have a technical preview available tomorrow, October 1st, 2014. They’ve made it clear that it’s not at all feature complete, it doesn’t have all the features it’ll eventually have, and it will certainly have bugs and unexpected quirks. But what they’re looking for is feedback from real users who can explain to them what their wants and needs are, share usage telemetry and dig into the meat of what users want as they spend the next year building this new OS to address the needs of the emerging touch-focused market while also honoring the needs of legacy keyboard and mouse users. What do you think?


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