Windows (9) 10
By Nick Harding - Web Developer.
Let's start with some home truths: Windows 8 was a mistake and Windows 8.1 was just a slightly better mistake. All we need to do is look at the adoption rate of Windows 8/8.1 compared to Windows 7 to confirm it: when 55% computers use Windows 7, only 3.8% use Windows 8... This is even more embarrassing when you know that Windows' previous incarnation, XP, still has a 19% share, significantly bigger than Windows 8.
What happened with Windows 8?
That doesn’t however mean windows 8 was all bad, it would probably be more accurate to say that it was the right product, but at the wrong time. Indeed, it was geared totally towards touch screen computing and therefore optimised for touch-screen devices, when this is still far from being the norm. Microsoft realised their mistake and backtracked with 8.1, but it was too late for many.
One of the biggest complaints about Windows 8 was the new start screen (known as 'Metro') which provided an app-based layout similar to that of the Windows Phone. Whilst great for touch screen PCs and tablets, it was clunky at best for traditional users.
This was partially rectified in Windows 8.1 when the start button returned, however there was still a clear divide between the start screen and the desktop.
Why do I prefer Windows 10?
For many, including myself, Windows 10 has been highly anticipated and is now freely available as a Technical Preview for anyone to try whilst Microsoft finishes it off. Now let’s be clear, a technical preview isn’t recommended for the home or work PC that you use every day as it can often break without warning, or fail to run software you rely on. But as a test bed, it can offer a fantastic insight into the plethora of new features coming to a screen (or a wall) near you soon.
In Windows 10, you will find yourself booting into the Windows desktop with the start button in the taskbar, where it should be, but with the clever twist of the “Apps” now being embedded as part of the start menu that opens up on demand. These apps used to be confined to running full screen (or half screen if snapped left or right) but now each of them can open in their own individual windows, which allows you to move them around and position them as you wish.
You will also find in the new taskbar a search bar to search seamlessly both Windows and the Internet (Bing) - all in one place. Cortana, Microsoft’s Digital Assistant, is also now integrated into Windows 10 and allows voice search, like the Windows Phone. This is however currently limited to the US in the technical preview.
Some interesting new features
Overall, the layout and look of Windows 10 desktop gives a very crisp, fresh and visually appealing look which is a far cry from older versions of the OS and one that may leave Mac owners rather envious.
As for future technologies, Windows 10 brings Cortana (as mentioned above) to the party, along with a brand new browser known as Spartan. Whilst the latter has yet to make an appearance in the previews, it is being widely anticipated, as it is designed to create a seamlessly browsing experience across platforms. Another feature that gamers will love is that Windows 10 works with Xbox One, meaning you can play your Xbox One games on your PC; handy if you can’t wrestle control of the TV away from the soap opera fans! This is part of Microsoft’s Universal App program where Apps are designed for Windows 10, Xbox One and Windows Phone, and share a universal Windows store.
Last, but not least: Hololens
To me, the biggest feature so far for Windows 10 is probably Hololens. Using holographic glasses, Hololens will allow you to have your Windows desktop displayed across environments. You will be able to interact with gestures and work fluidly with your PC in what Microsoft describes as a “more natural way”. Hololens effectively “maps” your surroundings - the room layout for instance - and should allow you to pin different tasks to different areas, turning your entire world into a display. 3D designers for instance will be able to view and explore their creations in a truly immersive way by rendering a fully interactive 3D image in front of them.
All in all, Windows 10 is promising big things, and if the Technical Preview is anything to go by, it’s delivering them too. It remains to be seen whether Windows 10 will convert the die-hard Windows 7 users, but the fact that it will be available FREE to Windows 7 and Windows 8 users may just give it the edge.
P.S. I don’t know what happened to Windows 9 either.