I’ve been asked many times in the past few months why Microsoft went with naming their latest desktop platform Windows 10. There’s a joke I usually respond with, that Windows seven ate nine, and that’s why the next generation is called Windows 10. If you don’t get the joke, close your eyes and say it again, “seven eight nine,” and now they’re at 10. Of course, if you ask Microsoft that same question, the answer would be very different, addressing the fact that there is so much content and change in the version 10 product, it only made sense to jump to the double digit number, as if the version is as powerful as two of its predecessors combined.
When Microsoft announced Windows 10 on September 30, 2014, it was clear that their focus was on a true threshold change for the product in this new age of a cloud-first, mobile-first world. At the Microsoft Ignite conference in May 2015, CEO Satya Nadella made a very powerful statement where he stated, “The enduring mission at Microsoft is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”
In recent weeks, I have come across a number of fascinating statistics about the digital world we live in, which further validates Microsoft’s interest in this mission statement; a foundation that will hopefully make Windows 10 a winner, paving the way for the future of computing. One such statistic was published in an Intel report titled, What Happens in an Internet Minute. I was astonished to see that 4.1 million online searches are done each minute, and over 194,000 apps are downloaded in the same period of time. This is a truly telling statement about the demand we have put on our mobile world and the devices with which we enjoy this experience. From what I have seen, Windows 10 has been uniquely positioned to address this need and expand capabilities across the enterprise.
Windows 10 is all about enablement, regardless of whether you are an IT professional responsible for your department, or an end user who is primarily concerned with their own desktop. From an IT professional perspective, this means easier management of services and updates within the System Center experience. I won’t go into a diatribe about who an IT professional is (this isn’t easy for me) but think of this as Microsoft’s move to push technology down into the hands of its general users. This purpose is to give those users who have traditionally needed to involve others more autonomy when completing tasks. For example, remember that time you weren’t able to access something on your desktop and had to call support for assistance. If you are an IT pro, you’re aware of it.
IT professionals will now be empowered to deploy Windows 10 updates with the System Center Configuration Manager. Windows 10 will integrate this functionality into a standard Windows Update package and assist with updating and securing the new operating system.
From an end user’s perspective, Windows 10 will change a lot. To me, this is good change as I’m an advanced user and always look forward to more power in the technology I use. That being said, I understand the angst that many users will have when they hear about an updated product; typically interpreting the word “update” to mean functionality they won’t use, or won’t be trained on. In a corporate environment, this largely falls to your IT department to ensure that an update is supported by the appropriate level of training. In a home office, or home environment, watch for many of the training companies to begin releasing some how-to content in order to assist in getting you up to speed on Windows 10. For those using Windows 7; there will be some significant changes. Look for training on:
- The Windows 10 App Store
- Navigating the Windows 10 interface
- Using the Charms bar and search tools
- Using Internet Explorer 11
Windows 10 has two main features that are already favorites of mine. The first is a continuum feature, which provides a unified experience with or without a keyboard and two-in-one devices such as a Surface or tablet. As a Surface 3 user, I’m constantly confusing the device when I snap the keyboard off, which can be frustrating when I’m quickly trying to complete a task; the device seems to lag as it attempts to decide if I want it to operate in laptop mode, or tablet mode. Microsoft designed the continuum feature to sense when the device enters this “swap” mode and quickly adapt with the appropriate functions, including greater spacing of buttons offering easier touch-screen interactions.
Second, the new Windows 10 app-to-app feature is an awesome addition to the user experience (see figure). App-to-app incorporates tapping between links, which will open up multiple windows on the screen. As indicated in a session delivered by Chaitanya Sareen, Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft called The New User Experience with Windows 10 at Ignite, 50% of Windows 8 users currently use a dual window environment.
The new app-to-app feature, called “Windowing,” will allow users to tap a link and control the environment, as opposed to grabbing a window and sliding it 25% outside of the screen, as was the practice in previous Windows versions. Sareen also pointed out that Microsoft research shows that most customers have one window maximized at all times, but Windows 10 now allows us to operate “in a two window world.”
Figure: Windowing allows users to open multiple windows on the screen, like on this image from a Surface.