Yesterday Microsoft announced what we can look forward to in their next Windows operating system, and what is really important is that it will be a free upgrade from Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 plus if you own a Windows phone with 8.1, that too will be a free upgrade.
You must however upgrade within one year or pay the price for the programme after that.
Windows 10 should see the light of day later this year, say around October/November time, although the technical preview for the developers and serious boffins have been around for a few months, and a preview for insiders of the latest build is expected in the next few weeks.
Meanwhile, we already know a bit about what to expect, a key to Microsoft’s strategy has been to make the switch between the PC and tablet seamless [using a new feature called Continuum], and also switching from mouse to touchscreen, and you should be able to synchronize notifications between phone, tablet and PC similar to Apple’s Continuity.
Microsoft also plan to provide a new browser as an alternative to Internet Explorer, currently known as project Spartan, which is expected to be more web friendly and easier to use on mobiles. Apparently one can make comments, write notes, and share other info. It will be a while before we get to see a preview.
Those of you with an Apple phone will be familiar with Siri, the voice activated personal assistant, and now Windows 10 will have Cortana. Cortana learns from you, customizing search results so that they are relevant and provides extra information when needed, e.g. if you had asked for the nearest petrol station then you may also be given directions, brand, or other pertinent and useful information. You can also request Cortana to play music, tracking flights, look up documents or photos, including those stored on OneDrive. It will also be integrated into the new Maps app reminding you where you parked your car
A word of caution. Whilst Microsoft would like us all to get on the bandwagon with Windows 10, I have as yet no info on just how the programme will work so hardware requirements could be a problem for older machines running Windows 7. And you may have heard that Windows 7 is no longer supported for retail versions and is no longer available to buy retail. This means that we cannot expect updates of the system except for updates to security [until 2020].
If you are running Office, Outlook and universal apps they should all work quite similarly across devices as should Cortana. Skype, owned by Microsoft, will also be integrated into the messaging app.
The much debated start menu will now be full screen and a new action centre provides access to Bluetooth, WiFi options and other settings. Cortana will show on the task bar next to the Start button.
With Windows 10 being tailored to all the devices including phones there will be a build to serve devices smaller than 8”, and importantly this won’t be just a Windows phone, but actual Windows. So if you wish to run a Power Point presentation from your phone you can, and you can print wirelessly as well.
There is more to come for those interested in games, Xbox capabilities, which I won’t cover here, but it seems clear that Microsoft is determined to leave the failures of Windows 8 and the phone behind whilst introducing some futuristic and interesting ideas under their new management and in their upcoming Windows 10 operating system.
Meanwhile, be patient.