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With Windows 10, a contrite Microsoft will try to atone for Windows 8 mistakes

Juan Carlos Perez | Oct. 1, 2014
Humbled by businesses' dislike for Windows 8, Microsoft has issued a mea culpa, offered the world a first peek at Windows 10 and pledged that the new OS will delight IT executives.

Humbled by businesses' dislike for Windows 8, Microsoft has issued a mea culpa, offered the world a first peek at Windows 10 and pledged that the new OS will delight IT executives. But the true test of whether Microsoft can move past its Windows 8 mistakes will come when Windows 10 is commercially released at some point next summer.

"On the surface, everything they announced is on the right track and bodes well. They definitely acknowledged they've heard the Windows 8 feedback and are trying to make amends," said David Johnson, a Forrester Research analyst. "But it'll come down to what the experience is like hands on."

How severe are enterprise customers' misgivings about Windows 8? By the end of 2013, Windows 8's installed base in businesses worldwide stood at 2 percent of all Windows copies, compared with about 51 percent for Windows 7 and 31 percent for Windows XP, according to IDC.

So Microsoft has a tough road ahead, and day one was Tuesday when executives from the company's Operating Systems Group addressed head on at a press conference in San Francisco many of the complaints CIOs have voiced over the past two years about Windows 8 and its two major revisions -- Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update.

"Windows is at a threshold, and now it's time for a new Windows," said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems Group.

First on the to-do list is fixing the clunky co-existence in Windows 8 of the touch-optimized Modern interface for tablets and the traditional desktop for mouse and keyboard users. Through a number of modifications, including the triumphant return of the Start button and menu and the addition of "windowed" Modern apps, Windows 10 will offer a more organic experience for the two interface scenarios, and intelligently adapt to a user's device and applications, according to Microsoft.

Fixing this is paramount because the interplay between the two interfaces is akin to schizophrenic behavior in Windows 8, Johnson said.

Microsoft also said Windows 10 will be a single OS for a variety of devices, not only PCs and tablets, but also the Xbox console and smartphones, meaning it will replace Windows Phone, and that it will offer what Microsoft calls "a converged application platform" with a single app store, in an attempt to make life easier for developers.

Security will also get beefed up in various ways, including with data loss prevention features baked into the OS that Microsoft says will protect data as it travels among devices, removable drives, email servers and cloud systems. "That's a very compelling feature for enterprises," Johnson said.

Windows 10 will also be designed as to be easier to manage and deploy. And enterprises will be able to opt out of Microsoft's rapid release pace of Windows updates, an issue of particular concern among IT departments that feel the company has lately been pressuring them in this area at the expense of desktop stability.

 

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