Microsoft is keeping watchers of the Redmond, Washington-based software giant on their toes.
The company this week said the name of its next operating system won’t be Windows 9; they’re jumping straight to Windows 10. The news comes two years after launching Windows 8, which has received mixed reviews — perhaps part of the reason to skip “9″ and start anew. Windows 10 is expected to debut in the fall of 2015.
Windows 10 will eliminate the Metro interface tile to an extent, returning to something that’s closer to the company’s roots. Microsoft says Windows 10 will work on almost any device, no matter the screen size.
“Based on first impressions … I see Microsoft’s goal of a Windows 10 OS and user interface that powers everything from a smartphone to a wall-sized computer as overly ambitious,” noted Carl Howe, vice president with 451 Research, commenting specifically on an article by The Verge. “Windows 8 struggled to bridge the gap between PCs and tablets, and those are roughly the same-sized devices. Windows 10 is trying to span devices over an even larger range of use cases, without substantially changing the approach used in Windows 8. Windows 10 risks becoming a design without a specific target; while it may function across all those sizes of devices, it may fail to create a truly great experience on any of them.”
Howe notes, however, that much can change between now and when the actual product ships.
Mark Skilton, a professor at the Warwick Business School, is more optimistic at first glance, noting how Windows 10 should be a step up from the last version.
“Windows 10 is clearly trying to get back to the core strategy of a single operating system that works well across all platforms,” said Skilton. “The trouble with Windows 8 was that apart from low adoption there were significant technical mistakes made around its usability design. Too many user-design principles were violated by Windows 8, as it was in effect trying to be a desktop and a touchscreen at the same time but failing at both. Windows 10 has a better tile resizing function and a new ‘quadrant’ layout to help improve usability of the applications and the content pages, something that was clearly confused in Windows 8. The return of the much missed ‘Start’ button is recognition of the importance of desktop for Microsoft. The touchscreen does not need this but the desktop does and so it’s a step in the right direction again.”
“From all the images I’ve seen, Windows 10 will put the traditional desktop PC experience front and center to promote familiarity with existing customers, and then layer on touch interfaces and apps as a part of that experience,” added 451 Research’s Howe. “The good news is that enterprises will embrace this approach because it preserves their legacy investments in Windows applications and training. What that will do, however, is allow many enterprises to retain a ‘PC first’ mindset, leaving those businesses vulnerable to competitors who more fully commit to true ‘mobile first’ infrastructures. As such, I see Windows 10 mostly salvaging the damage done by Windows 8 instead of creating a new enterprise-wide mobility platform for everything from smartphones to board rooms.”
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