Microsoft is months away from revealing Windows 10, the next major operating system upgrade for devices of all sizes running Windows. The company is hoping that Windows 10 will be the catalyst it needs to make progress in the consumer space. Whether that’ll happen or not is unclear, but it is clear that the company is at least approaching entertainment and productivity from a different direction with Windows 10.
Read: What is Windows 10?
Microsoft is expected to show off the next major update to Windows 10 on Wednesday, January 21st. That being said, there are things that we know now, bits of information that should make the Windows 10 picture a little clearer for anyone thinking about upgrading when the operating system comes out or who is at least a bit interested in Microsoft’s plans to compete with Mac OS, the iPhone, the iPad, Chrome and Android.
Windows 10 is for Phones Too
On Wednesday, almost everyone is expecting to hear Microsoft talk about what we all typically think of as Windows: that operating system that comes preinstalled on your desktop or notebook. Getting that experience right after Windows 8 is crucial, but those aren’t the only form factors to get excited about.
Windows 10 Mobile is rumored to be Microsoft’s direct replacement for Windows Phone and Windows RT. Windows RT is what currently runs on the company’s Surface 2 tablet. It’ll be this version that goes out to owners of Windows Phone 8.1 devices today – and presumably to the Surface 2 around the same time. By merging the two operating systems, Microsoft is giving itself an iOS competitor, one single version of Windows that runs on iPhones and iPad rivals alike. Reports indicate we’ll see Windows 10 Mobile for the first time at this week’s event and a public preview will be available sometime after.
Windows 10 Looks Different on Different Devices
Microsoft tried to meet the concerns of multiple devices with one operating system before. That operating system was Windows 8 and it mostly went over badly with users. It doesn’t seem like the idea was a bad one, but Microsoft’s approach does seem to have alienated a lot of users.
The Start Screen was too immature and too basic for users with a mouse and keyboard who were already comfortable with the way they did things. It was too rudimentary for tablet lovers used to more fully featured apps and services too.
Microsoft is taking a different approach with Windows 10. It’ll have multiple interfaces for different types of devices. Desktop users should expect a taskbar and the Desktop. Notebook users should expect that too. Owners of tablets without a built-in keyboard should expect an experience similar to the Start Screen. Convertible users can expect, Continuum, an interface that allows them to get the best of both experiences.
Windows 10 Has a Single Combined Store
Since the introduction of tablets, users have begged for a converged store. Having multiple devices isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but having multiple devices from the same company with different app stores is a bad thing and something that very much makes Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 a pain to use. With Windows 10 Microsoft plans to merge their App Stores across everything it sells directly to users.
Developers will be able to create an app that works on the Xbox One, Windows 10 phones, Windows 10 tablets and Windows 10 notebooks.
In theory, this makes Microsoft’s ecosystem a much bigger target, with a bigger install base. In short, developers have another reason to make decent apps for Windows and users have at least one reason to upgrade to the newer version.
There’s No Need to Buy a New PC for Windows 10
As it stands now, the hardware requirements for Windows 10 won’t be any more modern than Windows 8 was and that operating system didn’t require much upgrading for users of Windows 7. Almost every device that ran Windows Vista and everything that came installed with Windows 7 and Windows 8 installed should run Windows 10 fine.
That being said, there are some caveats where Windows Vista is concerned. Early this month Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 won’t actually be a straight upgrade for Vista users. Instead, Microsoft says Windows Vista users will have to perform a fresh upgrade to get to the Windows 10 Technical Preview. If that’s the case now, it’s very unlikely that Microsoft will change that before the final version arrives.
Desktop Lovers Are Getting What They Wanted All Along in Windows 10
It’s impossible to stress this enough; those that had a problem with Windows 8 for whatever reason should find their concerns addressed in this new version. In fact, Microsoft has gone so far in giving mouse and keyboard users what they wanted that some fear Windows 10 is a big regression.
The Desktop isn’t just back for some users out-of-the-box, it’s been upgraded. Multiple Desktop support lets users organize their tasks. Snap Assist auto suggests apps for better multitasking. The Start Menu is back and now Windows Store apps are accessible directly from the Start Screen.
Microsoft plans to live stream its Windows 10 media briefing this Wednesday beginning at 9AM Pacific Time. Rumors point to there being versions for users to try at home shortly after the live stream ends.