On screen: the Windows 10 logo. Credit: Simon Bisson
We don't have to guess at the name any more. Windows One? No. Windows 2015? No. Windows 9? A surprising no. Instead the next Windows will be Windows 10, putting clear blue water between it and Windows 8. As Terry Myerson repeatedly told his San Francisco audience, there are 100 million Windows 7 users out there, and it's clear that's who he expects to be most of Windows 10's audience.
That 100 million weighs heavily on Windows 10, and while much of the user experience is still a work in progress, what we were shown today (and what will form the heart of the technical preview) is focused on keyboard and mouse users. Myerson noted that Microsoft has a wide range of users it needs to support, from the novice home user to the experienced IT professional. That's a huge challenge, and one that's going to take time to get right.
Launching a preview program this early in the development cycle of the OS is clearly part of how Microsoft intends to solve this conundrum. Getting Windows 10 in the hands of IT admins and enthusiast users is going to give Microsoft access to two diametrically opposed schools of thought -- one conservatively looking for an OS that's easy to manage and that meets the needs of business, and one that's willing to push the envelope on hardware and applications. There are more than 200,000 businesses running Windows, and Myerson needs to get as many as possible thinking about Windows 10. That means addressing key business concerns quickly.
That makes this is the BYOD Windows. With Microsoft's focus on productivity (or as we sometimes think of it as "letting you do your stuff"), it's clear that while Windows 10 focuses on what Myerson described as a "continuum of devices," the version demonstrated today was very much aimed at the traditional desktop and laptop user. The Start menu returns, as a hybrid of the familiar Windows 7 Start Menu and the Windows 8 Start Screen, complete with Bing-powered search that delivers web and Windows Store results alongside the usual app and file results. You can have a wide horizontal start menu, or a tall vertical one -- or just stick with the Windows 8 start screen.
Much of the final UI remains to be revealed, and today's preview looked much like a tweaked Windows 8. Familiar task switching controls give access to the new quadrant-snap views that let you mix Windows Store apps with traditional Windows apps, and to the new virtual desktop that can be used to separate workspaces -- and to help reduce distraction. As Myerson pointed out, Windows needs to be familiar to enterprise users, keeping training time to a minimum while still supporting new scenarios and services. That means rethinking how the Windows 8 charms bar and task switching work, and adding support for many of the Windows 8 features to a new drop down menu on the top left of windowed Windows Store apps.
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