Today was a milestone for Windows and it is indeed official, Windows 10 is coming! Later this year, the completely reworked and revamped operating system will be released for PCs, tablets, phablets and phones. According to the Microsoft executives presenting this morning in Redmond, Windows 10 will provide the "best experience" to users regardless of the device they choose to use.
Led by CEO Satya Nadella, who reaches his first anniversary at the helm of Microsoft shortly, the nearly two-hour press conference touched on almost every facet of the operating system as well as a handful of new technologies. Since announcing Windows 10 to the public back in September, the pre-release Windows Insider program boasted over 1.7 million insiders involved in reviewing and debugging the open development platform. The program, which is tightly moderated by Microsoft, received over 800,000 pieces of feedback on the product.
Possibly the most important item to consumers is that Windows 10 will be offered as a free upgrade (if you choose to upgrade in the first year of the release) to those using the most recent versions of Windows and Windows Phone. This is an interesting strategy as the move repositions Microsoft as a company that will base its revenues off subscription services, and not installations. While this was first introduced in Microsoft Office years ago, it has not yet been attempted from an operating system perspective. It will be interesting to see how this shift pivots Microsoft towards subscription services, updates, service packs and security patches going forward.
As we heard many times today, Microsoft whole-heartedly believes that technology should help individuals and organizations do great things. The company identified the following three pillars which has guided their beliefs and the creation of Windows 10, all of which are focused around the construct of moving from a single device to "more personal computing" across multiple devices and locations (home and work).
- Mobility of experience
- Natural interaction
While mobility and trust are certainly not new concepts, natural interaction was described as interacting with Windows 10 with the same ease as you would another human being in general conversation. The first such technology is Cortana, which was described as the world's most "personal digital assistant." In the demonstration, Joe Belfiore calmly spoke to Cortana who clearly and accurately answered his questions, including a belief that the Seattle Seahawks will win the upcoming Super Bowl by 78 points. It's always great to see some relevant, topical content put into these presentations. Belfiore explained that it is the users who will help make "her" more capable as time goes on, a subtle reference to the involvement and feedback of users. The product will be rolling out to insiders over the next several months.
Microsoft also announced the release of Project Spartan, the new web browser that will ship with Windows 10. Spartan will allow an offline reading list, built-in PDF support, web page annotation and sharing and Cortana support that integrates directly with the revamped browser.
Microsoft also announced a number of enhanced features to its existing stack of services, including an available photo engine that uploads images centrally regardless of Windows device, and common storage for your music collection in OneDrive.
Without question, Microsoft has positioned Windows 10 as the most collaborative release in company history, touching on a plethora of product changes, device modifications and a look into the future, including a demonstration of hologram product called HoloLens. While it is too early to see how the market will adapt to the changes, Microsoft is clearly working hard to make Windows 10 the most loved version of Windows ever.