In an event Wednesday morning, Microsoft revealed many of the details, innovations, and long-term plans surrounding their new Windows 10 operating system. Windows 10 naturally draws attention, as would any desktop Windows release, but Windows 10 has a few unique differences that make it even more interesting. This event was a great opportunity to see what Microsoft is planning for their new OS. For those who missed out, here are a few of the highlights.
Streamlining a Multi-Device World
Windows 10 is a multi-platform OS. It is designed to provide a unified experience across Desktop and Mobile devices while still sticking to the best design principles for each platform (i.e. optimizing for mouse+keyboard vs touchscreens depending on the device). So when Windows 10 launches, it isn’t just launching as a desktop OS, it’s also going to replace the current Windows Phone OS. And as always, this will come with new features for users and new opportunities for developers.
In keeping with the multi-device theme, Microsoft is really pushing the idea of “Universal apps” which they introduced last year; that is, the idea of using a single code-base to deliver a unified but tailored experience to many different platforms—and Microsoft has quite a few platforms: smartphones, tablets, desktops, laptops, and xBox. They even introduced a new 84” touchscreen that is optimized for collaboration. There is certainly a lot of promise and potential for improving the experience and continuity of multi-device users.
Microsoft is going to be putting in a lot of effort to entice developers. We’ll learn more about the technical bits at the Build conference later this year, and the OS will continue to mature between now and then. Pragmatically, the best way Microsoft can entice developers is to acquire users, and they’ve made some announcements on that score, too.
New Windows versions have famously poor update rates, which fractures the user-base across different operating systems (XP, 7, 8, etc.) and even update versions within those OSes (8 vs 8.1 for example). Microsoft is doing two things to address this.
First, it is giving away Windows 10 for free for the first year. That’s big news. I know I’ll be happy to update both my older Windows 7 PC and my 8.1 laptop, and I’m sure there are millions people in similar situations. The free update should do wonders to bolster the rate of upgrading and bring as many users as possible into the Windows 10 ecosystem.
Second, they’re changing the way they do OS updates to make sure bug fixes and new features can be pushed to users more rapidly. As they explain it, they want people to think of Windows in the same way we think about web apps, where it is impossible not to be using the latest version. A more streamlined update pipeline will help keep everyone’s devices running with the latest tech.
Other News and Surprises
Cortana is coming to the desktop. This isn’t too surprising, but they’ve turned her into a very central aspect of the OS. Cortana controls search functions, answers questions, launches applications, and provides notifications, among other duties as a personal assistant. Cortana will be a core feature of the OS.
OneDrive is going to power the mobile experience by keeping user data in the cloud, allowing universal apps to stay synced. “Mobility of the experience” becomes more important than “mobility of the device,” which is a clever way of phrasing it. Obviously this all can be applied to any cloud-based application, but Microsoft is putting in a lot of effort to make their ecosystem seamless, and they’re going in depth in making it happen.
Project Spartan is a new web browser in the works. It slims down the browser UI, focuses on speed, and integrates with other Microsoft services like OneNote and Cortana, among other features.
Last but not least, the big surprise of the day was the HoloLens. Microsoft announced a new piece of hardware—a head mounted Augmented Reality visor meant for home and office use. This device essentially allows the user to view holographic images overlaid on reality as they go about their day. Pretty weird, but quite cool. The video they played accompanying the announcement showed things like 3D modellers viewing their creations, video games being projected onto living room furniture, and blank walls turning into a TVs.
Microsoft’s Build conference at the end of April should shed even more light on all of these announcements. I think Windows 10 is certainly worth keeping an eye on, as it represents a very ambitious move to unify mobile and desktop computing more than any other company has done so far. As a consumer, I hope they pull it off!
As developers, Windows 10 is introducing a lot of new ideas and tools which will take some time for us to master, but with Microsoft’s history of developer support, you can rest assured that by the time Windows 10 launches, Software Developers India will be ready and waiting to tackle all your Windows design and development needs.
Can’t wait? Get in touch today and let’s start to build a plan for your future. Call 408.802.2885, or leave a message online.