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Windows 10: The BYOD Windows

Simon Bisson | Oct. 1, 2014
100 million Windows 7 users can't be all wrong.

One feature that won't be in the preview is one that's intended to bridge the gap between tablet and laptop and support two-in-one devices like Microsoft's own Surface Pro. Demonstrated in a video, it lets devices operate like Windows 8 tablets until a keyboard is connected, at which point users will get the option of switching to Windows 10's desktop mode. It's a compromise, and will be interesting to experience when it finally gets released (which is likely to be as part of a second, consumer-focused, preview in the early part of 2015).

Microsoft is clearly thinking about the shift to BYOD in Windows 10. One aspect of that is shown by how Windows 10 separates user and corporate information. Work data and personal data are held in separate containers, and can't be copied from one store to another. Corporate apps will only be able to work with corporate data, and the Windows clipboard will not work across the boundary between the two workspaces. Where this differs from tools like Samsung's Knox is in the ability to "enlighten" apps so that they can work in both user and corporate spaces, while still maintaining the boundaries between them. You can be working on your Great American Novel in the same copy of Word as you're editing the company annual sales reports.

That's the heart of Microsoft's enterprise sales pitch for Windows 10. IT departments can apply all the controls they want to corporate applications and information, while users can install all the Minion Rush and Twitter apps they want. CIOs will know the information they're entrusted with securing won't leak across into those games and social media, while users will know that an IT admin can't flick a switch and delete all their photographs of their kids.

Balancing enterprise and user needs is a challenge, but Microsoft has time to learn. A timeline Myerson displayed at the event seemed to show Windows 10 launching in late 2015, with consumer and developer previews to follow this enterprise launch. With the new preview program including tools for handling on-the-fly A/B testing and with forums that promise interactions between testers and engineers, Microsoft is going to be deluged with feedback in the months between now and general availability. Segmenting preview releases this way will also allow it to focus on testing tooling (a separate server and management tools preview will launch shortly).

While this may be the most open Microsoft has been about a new OS, there's still much to be discussed. The rumored "Metro 2.0" reworking of Windows Store apps still remains under wraps, and questions of pricing were quickly shut down. Under the hood there's even more to learn, as Microsoft rolls out enhancements to its Universal apps model; and with the announcement of an April date for its BUILD developer event, we're still a long way from getting full details of how developers will build apps that scale across the Windows 10 family of devices.


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