Businessman_on_ComputerWindows 10 is on its way!

Unless you are a bit of a tech head or a Microsoft® investor, you might be asking yourself, why does Microsoft’s next release of Windows really matter? It is actually significant for a number of reasons. First, it is a predictor of where we are headed with technology in the next few years. Microsoft makes release mistakes fairly often, but their analysis of the marketplace and what they need to do to make Windows 10 a success, tells us a lot. Next, whether Microsoft actually gets Windows 10® right, is interesting and impactful for all of us. After all, it is very likely going to be in our hands in one form or another in the next couple of years.

Windows 10 is still in the relatively early development stages. However, Microsoft recently did their first early release demonstration. This is part of their initiative to be more collaborative with enterprise business customers in designing the new software. As a result, we are going to hear a lot about Windows 10 as we are on the way to the planned release in Q4 of 2015.

What can we expect from Windows 10? Here are the highlights from the Microsoft press conference and demo:

1. More respect for desktop users. With Windows 8, Microsoft took a jump toward the touch interface, and offended many of their desktop users. With Windows 10, we see more respect for the traditional mouse and keyboard. The start button is back. There is an “All Apps” location where you can find all of your apps. Tiles are blended into the Start Button Interface, and you have lots of options for controlling how tiles appear to you.

2. Continued focus on mobile and touch users. Windows 10 does not ignore touchscreens and tablets. It actually enhances and improves touch. App-style programs (from Windows Store) are now easier to control and don’t take up the whole screen, if you don’t want them to. The touch user now has similar controls to mouse/keyboard users to close and minimize windows. Windows 10 is friendlier, even for the touch user.

3. More subscription based software with a business friendly online store. Microsoft is making the online store business friendly in Windows 10. You will be able to control what apps employees can buy on the store, and the licenses will be applied to the corporate account, rather than the user’s personal account. This way purchased apps won’t stay in the employee’s possession, if they leave the company.

4. Heavy focus on security for data on all devices. Microsoft is building (MDM) Mobile Device Management into the new operating system. Whether a desktop or a mobile device, a single management interface will allow companies to control their data and apps on the device and containerize it and protect it from theft. This is a huge new feature in a world where mobility is taken for granted and information theft is exploding.

5. Larger monitor friendly. Microsoft has enhanced their ability to control Windows and screens and have multiple screens. With Windows 10 you will be able to tile up to 4 windows on the desktop, and you will be able to have multiple desktops. For the power user who has lots going on, this creates a great deal of flexibility that just was not possible before.

6. Support for Hybrid machines. There are many new classes of machines like the Microsoft Surface Pro, the Lenovo Yoga, and the HP Spectre, to name just a few, that are both Ultrabooks and Tablets. Windows 10 will autoswitch, when you detach one of these units from the keyboard and allow you to go from the more traditional keyboard/mouse mode to the touch tablet mode with ease. And, you have control over how this switching works.

You may have noticed that Microsoft skipped a version. Yes, Windows 10 is the name and Microsoft is saying that is because this is a monumental and important release, which is pretty much what they say at every release. Others are speculating that Windows 9 is just too close to Windows 95 or 98.

If you are worried about going through a whole new upgrade cycle with software compatibility issues, you may not have to. Microsoft is saying that anything that works with Windows 7 will work with Windows 10, and that it will not create any compatibility issues. They are also saying that there are many more consumer type features to come, but that right now the focus is on core functionality.

What I am seeing in the prerelease demo of Windows 10 is pretty cool and well designed. Keyboard and mouse users get back some key features like the Start button. And, everyone gets better app and window control. If the early demo proves out and the release is as good as the hype, Windows 10 may be that solid new version that everyone moves to.

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