Once you get past the name there are some things that will be available in Windows 10 that have been missing for a while now. One of these that we caught on to is the support for multiple desktops. This feature has been a long time coming and is one that Microsoft has drug its feet on for years. The option makes a lot of sense for people that often see their computers as multifunction tools.
Some of the other announced features are ones that have been seen all over the internet in various leaks. The new start menu has rumored since right after the release of Windows 8.1. There was even talk that it would be part of a Windows 8.2 update, but that never panned out (although there is some talk that Windows 10 is really Windows 8.2). The new start menu will be pretty much what we saw in the leaks, a traditional start menu right out of Vista, 7 or even XP with a touch of Windows 8 added on top. You will have customizable live tiles to draw your eye every time you open it.
What is even more cool about the start menu coming back is that Microsoft finally listened to what a large majority of people were saying when Windows 8 was in development. You cannot build a single UI for every device. This was a very dumb idea and to make matters worse they took the UI from an OS that was not even very popular, Windows Phone. Microsoft tried to push their touch first agenda onto the desktop and the traditional laptop. It created a very disjointed and awkward user experience with clumsy controls for anyone that used a mouse and keyboard. With Windows 10 Microsoft has move to the concept of a central core OS with a different UI that is tailored to the device type that it is on. If you have a tablet then you will have a UI that fits it instead of something better suited to a desktop.
Giving a user more control and flexibility is what made Windows popular and why many people still use it. When Microsoft took that away in Windows 8 the consumer and enterprise market lost interest.
However, Microsoft has not given up on its dream for a common platform. They have just realized that they cannot make everything look the same. In keeping with the goal of a common platform they are going to be making some changes to the Windows Run Time (WinRT) that is replacing Win32. The new improvements will allow a developer to work from a common code base and build a resolution independent app that they can tailor to run on multiple platforms. A clever developer can build an app that runs on any of the available hardware from Xbox to Desktop. It is something that is not really present on any other platform although Apple is probably closest to this goal.
Of course there are more features that just the start menu, common platform, and multiple desktops to like in Windows 10. Microsoft has done some work on the way your system and data are secured. This is very obviously aimed at the enterprise, but will be attractive to security and privacy conscious consumers as well. Microsoft is embedding two factor authentication into the OS so you will have support for that right out of the box. Bit Locker is still there and appears to be improved a little. Microsoft is also talking about data separation that allows you to protect data even if it is removed from the device. Although we do not have confirmation of this it is probably going to be built on Microsoft’s rights management platform. If this is the case it should work well when connected to a domain as well as independently. Again it really all depends on the implementation.
Microsoft has improved on their snap feature and now will allow you to snap more than two apps together and also adjust the amount of the screen they are each taking up. You can also snap four apps on the screen (one in each corner) if you like. This is again pushing to make Windows more like Windows. Apps from the Windows Store will no longer steal your entire screen, but can run inside a window to allow you to run more than one or two at a time.
Microsoft is also renewing their push to the enterprise (their bread and butter) and plan to kick of a new insider program for businesses which will allow early access to Windows 10.This program kicks off tomorrow (October 2) and we expect there will be some interest in this. I know that we are planning to get a copy and check out some of the new features that Windows 10 has to offer.
Over all what we are seeing in Windows 10 is what we all wanted and asked for in the lead up to Windows 8. It is something of a shame that Microsoft did not listen and instead pushed so hard to try and change Windows into a touch first operating system. It has cost them a lot of money along with consumer and partner trust. They will have to work very hard to get that back.
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