Nope, that headline is not a joke.
During a small press event today in San Francisco, Microsoft officially introduced its next operating system to the world. Dubbed Windows 10, the software giant is bypassing Windows 9, and jumping straight into double-digits from Windows 8.1.
The mantra so far? “One product family, one platform, one store.” Microsoft will be producing a number of operating components under the Windows 10 umbrella, including enterprise, mobile, tablet, and traditional desktop environments. So far, this Windows presentation is very much focused on enterprise, which makes sense — Microsoft’s bread and butter has always been big business, and it needs to keep large corporate entities on its side.
Microsoft wants to move away from the “duality” of Windows 8/8.1. A rift has always existed between the desktop environment, and the tablet/Metro environment. While touch users have enjoyed a relatively robust environment to work in, the desktop crowd was left behind. Microsoft wants to remedy the situation with Windows 10, as it presents a more unified OS that caters to both the desktop population, while maintaining the gains it’s made with touch users.
One key feature that should appeal to users of all kinds: Multiple desktops (a take on virtual desktops). Now users can run several desktops at once, memory permitting: one for productivity, one for gaming, one for family, and so on. The desktops all live in the taskbar, which should make transitioning rather fluid.
Even the Command Prompt tool is getting a face-lift. Among other improvements? You can paste directly into CP now.
The desktop environment being shown off should appeal to many a Windows 7 holdover, but touch users aren’t being left out in the cold. At first glance, the touch environment in Windows 10 is an amalgamation of sorts — touch-friendly, while keeping some elements from the non-touch desktop (taskbar). The Charms bar is still there, but the touch UI “is evolving.” For now, swiping in from the left side of the desktop brings up Task View, which provides larger, more touch-friendly buttons. There’s also a new feature called “continuum,” which allows tasks and apps to seamlessly transition from touch to non-touch (for those using Windows 10 on two-in-one devices).
Tomorrow (October 1st), Microsoft is launching the Windows Insider Program, which is another name for a technical preview. This will power users, and the more adventurous to install preview builds of Windows 10. And for the business crowd, a server version of WIP will launch shortly thereafter.
Previews aside, the “consumer story” will be talked about in-depth early next year, while Universal Apps will be fully revealed at Microsoft Build in April 2015. A specific launch date has not been nailed down publicly, except for “…later in the year 2015.”
While Windows 10 is a unified platform, the mobile version of the forthcoming OS will not have a desktop mode, confirmed Microsoft in the event Q&A. And backwards compatibility will, on the surface, not be an issue. Windows apps currently available through Microsoft and its store will make the transition.