Yesterday Microsoft released Windows 10 on technical preview, with plans to release the full production version in 2015. By missing out Windows 9 completely, it sends the message that this is a big upgrade, and a huge step forward from the low Enterprise take-up of Windows 8.
Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President of the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft, introduces the technical preview at the Windows 10 launch event yesterday.
What does it mean though?
Well, one of the pushes for Windows 10 is that it’s an Operating System (OS) for all devices; smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktops. Although it will still have the same underlying look and feel, the available User Interface will be different for each type of device you run Windows 10 on. If you run it on a tablet, it will offer an optimised touch interface, on a desktop it will change to better support a keyboard and mouse. Windows 8 sat somewhere in between, and many people thought it didn’t do either as well as dedicated separate systems.
It’s a bold move. Other suppliers are currently sticking to different operating systems to support different types of devices. Google offers Chrome OS for desktops and laptops, with Android supporting tablets and smartphones. Apple offers iOS for smartphones and iPads, while it is sticking with Mac OS for laptops and desktops. There are advantages in taking this approach. Why load an OS with lots of code to support applications that you will never use on a device? A single OS optimised for the different hardware specifications will also perhaps ultimately be a compromise. A low end smartphone will have a tiny processor and available memory and will be used for very different functions compared to the gaming mainframe equivalent in many teenage bedrooms. How can one OS be fine-tuned to support both requirements?
There’s certainly a demand in the market for this functionality. Just last week I spoke to a large financial services organisation who were passionate about being able to use your own personal smartphone as your actual corporate PC. This was a thread that was mentioned in our recent view of the 2020 Workplace . We have been enabling this for many of our customers already, but it is often limited to checking emails on the move, or browsing the corporate intranet. Anything more and it’s perhaps best to develop a specific mobile app. In the new world, partly enabled by Windows 10, just bring your corporate enabled smartphone to work, sit down at any of the hot-desks decked out with a keyboard, screen and mouse and get on with your work as if you were using a corporate PC. Just carry one device that does everything.
Nirvana? Perhaps. But more and more devices will come as a ‘base-unit’ that can dock with generic peripherals that fit different use cases. For example, a smartphone can already ‘dock’ via various network technologies with a big screen, keyboard and mouse. Docking however is only part of the challenge – you need the smartphone to recognise and support these peripherals seamlessly and smartly – that’s what Windows 10 potentially brings.
You need look no further than the current Surface 3 TV adverts to understand this. Microsoft is pushing the concept that you don’t need both a tablet and a laptop, you can just use one device. You can attach a keyboard, and instantly it becomes a laptop, focused on mouse and keyboard input. On the move, without the keyboard, it works just like a tablet. Except that with Windows 8, some believe it doesn’t quite do either as well as dedicated machines – with Windows 10, it should do.
Currently I have the following mobile devices – a Fujitsu Ultrabook, an Apple iPad, a Fujitsu Android Tablet, a Sony Android Smartphone, a Nokia Windows Mobile Smartphone and a Samsung Smartphone. I also have the gaming mainframe equivalent PC at home, although it doesn’t get used for games – I just enjoyed building it and upgrading it regularly. I, my biceps, my pockets and my bag would all like to slim these six devices down to one device, used at home, on the move and at work. I might still have to upgrade every year though, so my wallet will have to cope a little while longer…
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