In Fall 2014, Microsoft announced that it would be skipping version nine and move directly into Windows 10. This left many individuals confused, but once the dust cleared, it was certainly clear that Microsoft is really trying to do something unique and innovative with its newest operating system. The technology leader then went quiet following the introduction, until this week.
At the recent Windows 10 Consumer Preview event, Microsoft demonstrated some capabilities of the operating system, stressing the importance of simplicity, familiarity and most importantly mobility. So, when the presentation turned into a brief discussion about Windows 10-based smartphones and tablets, heads turned.
According to TechCrunch, Microsoft's EVP of Operating Systems Terry Myserson said Windows 10 will be the "only platform that enables innovation across this broad range of devices," which includes PCs, tablets and smartphones. Essentially, Microsoft wants experiences to be mobile. Applications will universal, as developers will use a single codebase to create ones that work on and across all devices.
Windows 10 and mobility
Additionally, Windows 10 is more consistent, but instead of completely similar experiences, they will be close to identical. The source noted that the start menu is reminiscent of the one present on the Windows Phone operating system, but it differs in delivering higher levels of customization. The Action Center also syncs across devices, allowing for a more organized and easier to manage Settings Menu.
However, all devices with a screen smaller than eight inches will have a slightly different version of the operating system compared to PCs and larger tablets such as the Surface. In the mobile version, users can move around the virtual keyboard as well as quickly reply to messages via the notification window. On top of that, Cortana will also be present on mobile devices, and this Cortana is much improved and often referred to by Microsoft as another member of the family or office due to its ability to learn about its users. This will enable individuals to dictate text messages, perform Internet search queries with their voice and choose entertainment options based on previous preferences.
Microsoft also brought back a feature from the Windows Phone operating system. According to TechCrunch, Windows 10 on mobile devices will support message switching capabilities. Whether using Skype, SMS or any other messaging apps, users can send and receive all correspondence from a single interface, removing confusion and extra steps. Microsoft hopes to integrate Facebook and WhatsApp into that system as well.
Other improvements include a touch-optimized version of the Microsoft Office suite and a new Web browser. The former brings back the fan-favorite "ribbon" at the top of documents, while the latter is called Project Spartan and seeks to make surfing the Internet more interactive with inline note-taking and less resource-intensive by simplifying visual elements.
Does it have what it takes?
It should be no surprise to IT professionals that Windows is not a popular operating system when it comes to mobile devices. While it definitely seems that Microsoft wants to fix that with Windows 10 for smartphones and tablets, it needs to learn from the past and make this platform unique and attractive to enterprise mobility strategies.
"History has shown us that people don't want a traditional PC experience on their phone," Ross Rubin, principal analyst with Reticle Research, told CITEworld. "That's what Windows Mobile was all about. They don't want it on their TVs; they want more of a leaned-back, video-centric experience."
The bottom line is that Windows 10 will deliver an innovative experience, but there is still reason to be unsure about Microsoft's mobile offering. With free upgrades to Windows 10 for Windows 8.1, 8 and 7 users, at least some employees will be trying it out soon.