Software is often developed in secret, but Microsoft is doing the exact opposite with Windows 10 – the company has been publicly demonstrating the features of this upcoming operating system and asking for comments. Today it gave the world another glimpse of its plans.
The biggest revelation of this afternoon’s event was that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 8.0/8.1 tablets and other computers. This offer will also apply to devices running Windows 7, and will be good for a year after the introduction of the new version.
The demonstration in Redmond then moved to reminding people of some of the changes Microsoft has already announced. Most significantly, the upcoming operating system will have two modes: a desktop Mode that will resemble Windows 7 including a more traditional version of the Start Menu and apps running in windows, and a Tablet Mode that will function more like Windows 8 and have a full-screen Start Screen and full-screen apps. Every tablet with a screen 8-inches or larger will offer both of these. Small tablets and phablets run the version of Win10 for phones.
Speaking of phones, Microsoft is extending its Cortana voice-controlled digital assistant from Windows Phone to Windows tablets and PCs. Users will be able to activate the service simply by saying “Hey Cortana” and then order it to perform various actions, from simple ones like playing music or complex tasks like dictating an email.
One of the key aspects of Windows 10 will be that third-party developers will create apps that run on every type of device: desktop, laptop, tablet, and phone. The same is true for Microsoft itself; the company showed off a future edition of the full version of Word running on a Lumia phone – naturally it had a user interface formatted to run on a small screen, but the core code was the same.
Included in all this development is a change to OneDrive which will soon allow users to store and stream their music from this service.
And every Windows 10 device will come with a significantly-updated version of Xbox Live that will enable tablet and laptop users to play games streaming from an XboxOne over a WiFi connection.
Also demonstrated today is a new browser designed for Windows 10 that’s currently being called Project Spartan. Features that will set this apart from the venerable Internet Explorer include a note-taking mode that will allows users to mark up web pages with pen, or add typed comments, and then share images of these marked-up pages. Microsoft is also adding an offline reading mode, and building support for Cornana into the browser.
Windows 10 is scheduled to be released later this year. Those who sign up can get free access to the Technical Preview to begin testing it, but many of the features announced today aren’t included in the latest version – Microsoft intends to add them in the coming weeks and months.
- Windows 10 First Look: What to Expect from the New Windows — NotebookReview
- Windows 10 brings security, Cortana for PCs and holograms — SearchEnterpriseDesktop
- Microsoft Windows history: A 30-year timeline — SearchEnterpriseDesktop