(Wait, what happened to Windows 9?!)
Recently Microsoft launched the Enterprise Technical Preview of Windows 10. This will be the direct successor to Windows 8, with an estimated formal release in late Q2 2015. Microsoft reportedly skipped the “Windows 9” name to underscore the new direction it is taking with its multi-platform OS and to avoid consumer perception this follows the old tick tock ‘cycle’ (i.e. Vista = problematic, Windows 7 = good, Windows 8 = problematic, Windows 8.1 = stable, etc.) It is also reported this may be the last major version of Windows OS.
Versions of Windows 10 are planned for devices running both ARM and x86 processors including Xbox, Windows phones, tablets, convertible laptops and desktops. The new OS will be responsive meaning it can adapt the GUI to better serve the host hardware — tablet and touchscreen all-in-one desktop versions will provide different input options / features depending on whether a mouse / keyboard / dock is present.
Windows 10 marks the return of the Windows (‘Start’) Menu — a hybrid offering Windows 7-like ‘Start’ menu layout combined with Metro applications. The Metro section is dynamic (shrinks / grows based on pinned / removed apps) and can also be resized at will (all Metro apps can be removed if preferred.) Other new OS functionality includes:
- Windowed Applications – All applications (including Metro apps) will now run in a resizable window
- Quadrant Active Desktop Layout – Up to four windowed apps can be snapped onto the same screen, sharing focus. Windows will now also provide tips for better utilization (visibility / work flow) of active / background apps. Overall snapping apps in Windows 10 is better handled
- Windows Search – Web searches are now also included in results (as web links)
- Task Preview – This new task bar button gives an overview of all opened windows. It is different than Windows 8.1’s ALT-TAB window manager and a little more like Mac OS X’s Exposé
- Virtual Desktops – Multiple virtual desktops are better handled with integrated indicators to allow easier switching and application management
- Command Prompt – This features an ‘Expert’ mode which finally (!) gives the option for enabling shortcut pasting (CTRL-V)
Microsoft indicated the Windows 10 Technical Preview only demonstrates a fraction of the planned new functionality. A more consumer focused Technical Preview is estimated to be released in early Q1 2015 which could demonstrate further features.
Microsoft says Windows 10 is redesigned to allow for more frequent and seamless updates. Patches are planned to be more responsive, being released in one to three days as opposed to the current weeks or month release cycle. Reportedly all future Windows 10 upgrades will be more frequent (at least yearly), be incremental (10.x) and will be free (matching Apple’s current OS model.) Indeed according to Microsoft Windows 10 itself will be a free upgrade.