Microsoft unveiled its next Windows operating system, Windows 10, at the end of September 2014. The forthcoming operating system has features specifically designed for business, including an updated user experience and enhanced security and management capabilities.
Here are eight things businesses should know about Windows 10:
1. Key dates
Microsoft released an early technical preview for laptop and desktop version of Windows 10 on October 1, 2014. This is just over three years after Microsoft unveiled the first public beta build of Windows 8. Microsoft also released its Windows insider program on October 1, designed to keep early adopters up-to-date with the latest preview builds on Windows 10. Then, from October 7, the preview build was available to Windows 7 users as well. (However, consumer preview builds will not be available until early next year.) The technical preview, ends on April 15, 2015, timed to coincide with Microsoft’s Build 2015 conference. At the conference, Microsoft is likely to issue a release date for Windows 10. The company has promised that Windows 10 will ship to consumers and enterprises “later in the year” 2015.
On October 13, Microsoft announced that over 1 million people are currently testing the Windows 10 technical preview. This is likely to include a number of enterprises planning for the future.
2. Multi-device platform
According to Microsoft, Windows 10 will continue to follow Microsoft’s strategy of making its operating system a platform that is suitable for use on multiple devices. The company describes it as a converged application platform for developers on all devices. Consequently, developers will be able to write an application once and deploy it easily across multiple device types, says Microsoft. This includes desktop PCs, smart phones, tablets and Xbox consoles. Microsoft adds, “Windows 10 will run across the broadest range of devices ever from the Internet of Things to enterprise data centres worldwide.”
3. New security features
Microsoft is continuing to focus on adding enterprise security features to its operating system. Windows 10 will feature identity and information protection technology. The new operating system will also have new features around user identities, to improve resistance to breach, theft or phishing. Windows 10 will additionally help advance data loss prevention by using containers and data separation at the application and file level, enabling protection that follows the data as it goes from a tablet or PC to a USB drive, email or the cloud.
4. Device management changes
With Windows 10, management and deployment have been simplified to help lower costs. Microsoft says it will offer in-place upgrades from Windows 7 or Windows 8 that are focused on making device wipe-and-reload scenarios obsolete. Businesses will be able to customise an app store so that it to make it more specific to their needs and environment. The idea is to be able to create an app store that will allow for volume app licensing, flexible distribution, and the ability for organisations to reclaim or reuse licenses when necessary.
5. Interface tweaks
There are new interface enhancements, one of which is an expanded Start menu, replacing the Windows 8 navigation system. Microsoft says the familiar Start menu will be back, providing quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most. And it includes a new space that can be personalised with favourite apps, programs, people and websites. Apps from the Windows Store will open in the same format as desktop programs. They can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing users to maximise, minimize and close with a click. Working in multiple apps at the same time will be easier and more intuitive, with Snap Improvements. A new quadrant layout allows up to four apps to be snapped on the same screen. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping, and it will make intelligent suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps. In addition, there will be a new Task view button on the task bar, to enable one view for all open apps and files, which will allow the user to switch quickly, giving them one-touch access to any desktop created.
Finally, Windows 10 will have multiple desktops support. According to Microsoft, instead of too many apps and files overlapping on a single desktop, it will be easy to create and switch between distinct desktops for different purposes and projects — whether for work or personal use.
6. 2-in-1 features
Microsoft says that many of the new multitasking features will be optimised for touch devices as well, for example Task View. However, Windows 10 will also have a hybrid interface mode for 2-in-1 laptops and hybrid devices. This will contain elements of the current Windows 8.1 Start screen, but the new touch-focused start screen can switch based on the input used. Microsoft hinted that it will use large icons and response to gestures or swipes, as well as more traditional mouse or touchpad interaction, with smaller buttons and list-like interfaces.
7. Cloud integration
Windows 10 is likely to be more integrated with the cloud than previous versions of Windows. With products like Office 365, and OneDrive staying at the centre of Microsoft’s cloud strategy, and advances in Microsoft Windows Azure cloud platform, businesses can expect more Cloud integration.
8. Open and collaborative development
Microsoft has introduced the Windows Insider Program, through which it can work closely with customers to help shape the future of Windows. Windows Insiders will be able to give feedback on early builds of the product throughout the development cycle. The program will include various ways for Windows Insiders to engage in a two-way dialogue with Microsoft, including a Windows Feedback app for sharing suggestions and issues and a Windows Technical Preview Forum for interacting with Microsoft engineers and fellow Insiders.
Although it’s early days, Windows 10 is coming. Now is a good time to investigate the technical preview and see how it might benefit your organisation.