Shortly after announcing its new Windows 10 operating system at an event in San Francisco, Microsoft dropped another bombshell on users. As it turns out, there won’t be a Windows Phone 9 operating system to compete directly with the iPhone 6 and smartphones running Google’s Android operating system. Instead, Windows 10 will take on that task too.
Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore and Terry Meyerson revealed that Windows 10 will be the next major version of Windows to come to smartphones, according to The Verge. The revelation came during a question and answer session in which the two were asked outright about their plans for Windows 10 and beyond.
In response to being asked whether Windows 10 was the next version of Microsoft’s phone operating system, the two confirmed it was. They also confirmed that Windows Phone wouldn’t have a Desktop interface in the same way that Windows 8.1 RT and does today.
That Windows 10 is the next major update to Windows on smartphones isn’t exactly news. Microsoft said at the beginning of its presentation that Windows 10 is being designed for screen sizes that range from “4-inches to 80-inches.” The real news here is that Microsoft seems to have outright declared that there won’t be a major update to Windows Phone 8.1 from now until next year. That’s huge considering Windows 10 isn’t expected to launch until late in 2015. Presumably, some features will come in updates similar to what happened between Windows Phone 8 and Windows Phone 8.1 but that’s it.
Early speculation made it seem like Microsoft had plans to back off the integrated experience that it’d introduced in Windows 8. For the most part, that’s true. The features Microsoft revealed are coming to Windows 10 amount to an apology for Windows 8. The Start Menu is back and Desktop users will be able to resize in to fill there screen if they want. A new Task feature will let Windows Desktop users sort their apps by different tasks in the same way that Mac OS X users have been able to do for years. Search is also seeing some key upgrades with Windows 10 too. With the operating system, search will be universal.
That being said, Windows 10 is more of an evolution of the philosophies that the Windows 8.1 free software update was built on. Windows 10 will run on everything from giant touchscreen computers to phones, tablets and laptops but it won’t look the same. Instead, Microsoft says each version of Windows 10 that users encounter will have its own interface that’s unique to it. In a practical sense this means users with a laptop won’t have the same interface as Windows 10 users on a Surface with no keyboard attached. Microsoft first used this technique to put a power button and search button on the Start Screen for users with a mouse and keyboard. Presumably, apps downloaded from the Windows Store will work this way too.
Even now, questions about Windows 10 remain. Microsoft is set to let users download Windows 10 beginning tomorrow – but the version that users receive will only be for desktops, notebooks and presumably, 2-in-1s. Users will be able to preview the operating system and provide feedback as part of a new Windows Insider Program similar to the one Microsoft used for recent Windows Phone updates. Windows 10 will launch sometime next year for those devices but we’ve heard nothing about when smartphones will start shipping with Windows 10 on-board. As Microsoft now owns its own smartphone making business, we could see new phones running Windows 10 just as notebooks and tablets with it are making their début. Or it could take months after release before Windows 10 phones arrive as we’ve seen with the Windows Phone 8.1 update.