Today Microsoft revealed how the next version of Windows will change in response to complaints about its predecessor.
Out with the Old…
The highlight of the current Windows 8.1 is Metro Mode, which was designed to work on tablets and other touchscreen-based devices. It features large, easily-pressed live tiles for launching applications, which then open full screen. Only software specifically written for this version of the operating system can run in Metro Mode.
Devices running this version can be switched to Desktop Mode, which has much in common with the old Windows Desktop, except for a lack of the familiar Start button. This mode is used to run legacy applications, and offers the movable and resizable windows long-time users are accustomed to.
This arrangement isn’t popular with laptop and desktop users, and hasn’t lured many to Windows-based tablets – Microsoft controls only a very small percentage of the tablet market. The most typical complaints are that switching between these two is cumbersome, and laptop and desktop users don’t see any need for Metro Mode at all.
…in With the New
Today, Microsoft gave an early preview of Windows 10. The new OS includes a system called “Continuum” to better handle switching between tablet and desktop modes.
When a computer is being used with a keyboard and mouse, by default the user interface will be in a mode similar to the classic Desktop, including multiple resizable windows and a Start button. Live tiles can be added to the Start Menu.
If the device is like the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, Tablet Mode will start when the keyboard’s removed. This is similar to the current Metro mode, in which apps run full screen. Pressing the Start button will bring up a page of live tiles. A Charm Bar showing running apps will appear at the bottom of the screen.
Users will always have manual control over the current mode.
A New Name for a New Strategy
Windows 10 will replace Windows 8.1 – nothing will be called Windows 9.
A preview version of Win 10 will be available tomorrow, but Microsoft says that the main purpose of this will be to gather feedback from users – the public release of the full version isn’t scheduled until near the end of 2015.
Microsoft plans for this to be the last monumental Windows upgrade. Going forward, it intends a long series of small, incremental updates to this version, instead.
This strategy has quite a few detractors, especially in the business community. Corporate IT departments prefer to have complete control over when and how their computers are upgraded, and are nervous about having to carefully test every small Windows update before it can be rolled out.
For more on today’s announcement, read Microsoft Announces Windows 10 or Windows 10 Includes the Next Version of Windows Phone from our sister sites NotebookReview and Brighthand.