I’ve had a first squint at the next version of Windows
The next version of Windows will be with us in 2015 and it’s called Windows 10. A release date is expected to be announced in April for some time “later in the year”.
What happened to Windows 9? I’ve read two different explanations:
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said of Windows 9 “It came and went”. This suggests they might have started down a development path that they abandoned.
- Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the (Microsoft) Operating Systems group, said “Because we’re not building an incremental product, the new name will be Windows 10”.
Thinking about it, though, these two statements aren’t mutually exclusive. Anyway, Myerson’s point is that Windows 10 will be significantly different from previous versions in that the same operating system will work on smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even other devices that are part of the “Internet of Things”. Or, more cynically, they are trying to big up the “newness” by skipping from 8 straight to 10.
What is “The Internet of Things”
According to Wikipedia, “The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing internet infrastructure”.
An example would be a smart cooker that can be remotely controlled from a smartphone (to switch on the oven as you leave work, for instance). In other words, devices, appliances and gadgets that have embedded chips to control or monitor them can be connected wirelessly to a router (just as tablets and smartphones are already) and then controlled via another device that connects to the same network. Other examples are medical appliances (such as heart monitors) that can be remotely interrogated.
Perhaps we should forget about this potential aspect of the new Windows for now and think about how Windows 10 will function in its main guise – that of a desktop/laptop operating system. The most astounding thing that I’ve discovered so far is the simple fact that Microsoft have finally listened to what their users want and given up trying to impose the “metro” or “tiled” interface on us as a replacement for the good old Start Menu. Yes – they’ve brought back the the Start Menu!
They’ve not given up on the tiles, though. You can access them from the Start Menu (see illustration). Perhaps I should have said before this point that the version of Windows 10 that is currently available is a “technical preview”. The final thing may look very different. This technical preview isn’t even a “beta release” (ie a version that’s almost finished, but which will almost certainly be “de-bugged” by end users putting it through its paces in a real-world environment). Nevertheless, it’s hard to imagine them swallowing their pride and bringing back the Start Menu for a “technical preview” and then dumping it again before the final release.
If you’re feeling nerdy, brave, or just bored, you can download this technical preview from Microsoft. The download is in an “iso” format for burning to a DVD that then becomes the source media for the installation. I wouldn’t recommend installing it on your “real” system. I’ve put it on a spare laptop. The installation was quick and painless. Certainly the easiest installation of a new Windows operating system that I’ve every come across.
A lot of my own computer support clients found that accessing the “charms” bar in Windows 8 is confusing and a bit tedious. This is achieved by scrolling off a right-hand corner of the screen. It’s very easy to do this when actually trying to close a window (top right) or when trying to access the tiny rectangle of taskbar to the right of the date that, when clicked on, immediately displays the desktop. For the technical preview of Windows 10, at least, this behaviour has been removed. But is it any better to have to learn that depressing the Windows key and tapping on the letter “c” brings up the “charms” bar (as it does in Windows 8).
As well as bringing back the “proper” Start button and menu, a right-click on the Start button brings up a list of options just as it does in Windows 8.1. Between left and right clicks on the Start buttons a whole wealth of options can be easily accessed. I haven’t tried it, but I’m sure these left and right menus will be user-configurable.
Windows 10 will also include the possibility of having multiple desktops so that similar tasks can be grouped in different desktops. It doesn’t seem to be working very well in my own installation (and is probably a “work in progress”). If you’d like to learn more about this, have a look at winsupersite.com.
After playing with Windows 10 for a couple of hours, I have to say that I like it. For some reason, it makes a big psychological difference that the “proper desktop” is, once again, the “default” place to be in Windows. Having to see – and then switch from – the tiled interface in Windows 8 really did feel as if Microsoft were trying to herd us in a direction that they wanted us to go, and in which we didn’t want to go! I think it’s even possible that I may now play with some of tiled apps. Previously, I’d just clicked the desktop and refused to get involved with the tiled apps. Now that they are accessed from WITHIN the “proper” interface, I feel much happier.
All in all, I’m rather optimistic about how Windows 10 will perform when it’s finished and released next year.
If you’d like some more detail about the expected features of Windows 10 have a look at Techradar.