Microsoft gave the first look at its Windows 10 operating system on Tuesday, a major release that will span all hardware from PCs to phones and try to address the ills that have dogged Windows 8.
The event in San Francisco was aimed mostly at enterprise customers, and Microsoft promised an OS that will be more intuitive for the millions of workers still on Windows 7 and older OSes. Here's a rundown of some of the key points we learned Tuesday about Windows 10.
Why Windows 10?
The natural name would have been Windows 9, but Microsoft is eager to suggest a break with the past. "We're not building an incremental product," said Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group.
Microsoft considered the name "Windows One," he said, to match products like OneNote and OneDrive and its "One Microsoft" business strategy. But he noted the name was snagged a long time ago, by a young Bill Gates.
Perhaps Microsoft didn't like the idea of being numerically one step behind Apple's OS X. (A reporter asked jokingly if subsequent versions will be named after big cats.)
Whatever the reason, Windows 10 it will be.
"When you see the product in its fullness, I think you'll agree it's an appropriate name for the breadth of the product family that's coming," Myerson said.
What car does it resemble?
Yup, Microsoft came up with a car analogy. It wants you to think of Windows 10 as a Tesla.
"Yesterday, they were driving a first-gen Prius, and when they got Windows 10 they didn't have to learn to drive something new, but it was as if we got them a Tesla," Myerson said.
What devices will it run on?
All of them. Microsoft demonstrated only the desktop version Tuesday, but Windows 10 will be for tablets, smartphones and embedded products, too.
"It will run on the broadest types of devices ever, from the smallest 'Internet of things' device to enterprise data centers worldwide," Myerson said. "Some of these devices have 4-inch screens, and some will have 80-inch screens. And some don't have any screen at all."
Is there a start menu?
There is, and it tries to combine the familiarity of Windows 7 with the modern interface of Windows 8. That means the menu is split: On the left, apps are displayed in the familiar Windows 7 style, while on the right are more colorful "live tiles" that open the modern, Windows 8-style apps. The start menu is customizable, so you can resize the tiles and move them around, and make the start menu tall and thin or long and flat.
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