Microsoft has a lot riding on the next version of Windows. It's no secret Microsoft's Windows 8 is a flop with consumers.
Under the skin, 8 is actually a really good operating system, but Microsoft tried something too radical with the interface and left the majority of people confused and annoyed. Can it possibly turn things around?
To be fair, Microsoft does have a habit of turning things around. That's what Windows 7 did after Vista, Windows XP did after ME and Windows 98 Second Edition did after 98 and 95. In fact, as a rule, it seems best to upgrade to every other version of Windows.
So, does the rule hold true this time around? Today was Microsoft's official unveiling of the new Windows, so let's take a look and see if there's hope for Microsoft.
The first part of any Windows announcement is the name. In development Microsoft was calling it Windows "Threshold." Everyone else was calling it Windows 9.
Well, it's actually called - wait for it - Windows 10.
Yes, Microsoft decided to jump a number, although it didn't really explain why. Maybe it just finally wanted to catch up to Apple's OS X. Or maybe Microsoft wants to show that Windows 10 is far removed from Windows 8.
Or, as the speaker suggested in the Q&A, Windows 10 is such a big step Microsoft wanted an appropriately big name.
The speaker actually made a joke that Microsoft wanted to call it Windows One, a la the Xbox One, but Windows 1 has already been done back in 1985. Well, thank goodness for that anyway.
What's Microsoft up to?
The reason Microsoft probably wanted to call the new Windows "Windows One" is because of the approach Microsoft is taking. Windows 10 is going to work on every gadget top to bottom.
The means, desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones will all be running full versions of Windows. There will be one store, so apps you buy on your smartphone will work on your desktop and vice versa.
Microsoft is also taking a "mobile first, cloud first" approach. So, presumably, your information will sync with Microsoft's OneDrive so it's the same across every Windows gadget you own.
With that in mind, let's take a look at how it will work on various gadgets.
On a local level, Windows 10 will configure itself for the gadget you're using. So, on desktops and laptops you'll get a Windows 7/XP experience with a Start Menu, taskbar and everything you'd expect.
As I showed from a leaked version of Windows here, the Start Menu will have Windows 8-style live tiles that you can customize and resize to look and work however you want.
Apps will load in windows so you can use them on the desktop like any other program. In other words, everything is back to the way it was in Windows 7. What's old is new again.
Windows 10 will also have support for virtual desktops and a new "task view" that makes it easier to see every program that's running.
If you have a touch screen computer, of course, some of Windows 8's touch-based features like the Start Screen, Charm bar and edge swiping will stick around. Plus buttons and other interface elements will automatically customize to be easier to tap.
On tablets and smartphones, Windows 10 will continue to show the Start Screen and live tiles from Windows 8 and Windows Phone, and it's dropping the "desktop" view. That's actually a good thing, because that's what the Start Screen was originally made to do.
However, Microsoft didn't give much more detail than that. This presentation was mostly to developers so the consumer side of things was a little light.
Here's a short video of Windows 10 in action:
Microsoft is going to do a more detailed unveiling in April when Windows 10 is closer to completion. It expects to ship Windows 10 mid-2015. No word yet on pricing or if the rumors of a free upgrade from Windows 8.1 is true.
Stay tuned though and I'll let you know the latest as it happens.