Yesterday Microsoft got a little crazy and decided to shake things up for the unveiling of their latest OS by taking us straight from Windows 8 to Windows 10, leaving 9 out in the cold. We saw a preview of their Windows 10 operating system with some very welcome changes. The move back to a traditional start menu is certainly the biggest difference, showing that Microsoft is actually trying to ensure user satisfaction with this next release.
I must say though that, while Windows 8 was nowhere near the most successful OS ever sold by the software giant, I applaud them for their effort to be forward thinking and attempting to be innovative even if it failed. Windows 8 is not completely removed from the upcoming Windows 10, the live tiles in the start menu are a nice merging between Windows 7 and 8 that still show Microsoft is looking forward to the days of touch, but that they are also tailoring their strategy a bit more around it.
Microsoft is claiming that Windows 10 will be the new development platform for everything from 4 inch cell phones to PCs with wall-sized displays. This creates a potentially exciting proposition for the tech world as it may allow developers to create a single app that is available on all different devices. I question how much work will have to be done on the part of development organizations to create apps for all devices on a single platform, especially with the ever rising usability expectations of today’s users. However, if it can be done, it is an extremely exciting development innovation by Microsoft that will help enhance their app ecosystem.
Giving users back the familiarity of Windows 7 is not exactly a shocking decision in this latest release, as Microsoft tries to show that it still knows what it means to make an OS that users want. Microsoft will also be giving up on the less than spectacular navigation paradigm of duality, meaning it will stop automatically moving users into the Metro interface if they launch a Metro app.
Microsoft has also clearly realized the need to get back to their roots and make sure that they remain a productivity driving platform. Microsoft dominates the business world but it had a very lackluster performance with Windows 8, which never really penetrated this key segment. Most organizations are still relying on Windows 7 and it is incredibly crucial that Microsoft get it right for their business users.
After the unveiling there was one thing that has really stuck with me, and that is how much Windows 10 kind of just feels like a Frankenstein between Windows 7 and 8. I don’t mean that in a bad way.
I think that this will be the next OS that many companies and users wind up jumping to because it certainly won’t be Windows 8. What I’m really getting at is that Windows 10 doesn’t seem like a whole new world for Microsoft, one that justified a change in naming convention. It really seems like it is what Windows 8 should have been and maybe the Metro interface should have been left strictly for tablets and phones until it proved out a bit more. Either way, overall I think it’s great that Microsoft is getting the feedback cycle going early around this OS. They are going in the right direction by starting the conversation about what people really want now.
For more on this topic, read the Aberdeen report The End of Windows XP and the Beginning of the Post-PC Era