As a longtime supporter (and user) of Microsoft, I’m glad to see that the company is starting to really adapt and thrive in the new era of operating systems and mobile computing. Although the ill-fated Windows Phone continues to struggle against the juggernauts of Google’s Android and Apple’s iPhone, the Windows operating system is seeing a renaissance under the leadership of the recently instated CEO, Satya Nadella.
Windows 10 is currently available to test as a “preview build” and is set to be released to the general public sometime this summer. Windows 10 is the biggest change to the industry-leading operating system in years and also heralds a new era for Microsoft.
Here are the most important things you should know about the upcoming release of Windows 10.
Windows 10 will be free for existing Windows 7 and Windows 8 users
One of the most exciting announcements about Windows 10 is the one that will directly affect your checking account. In a stunning departure from a business model that has existed for essentially the entire 40-year history of the tech titan, Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be free for those who already have the Windows 7 or Windows 8 operating system running on their machines – at least for the first year.
There has been a great deal of speculation about this decision; many believe the unpopularity of Windows 8 among enterprise customers was a factor and that Microsoft wants to get everyone onto its greatly revamped Windows OS as quickly as possible. Nevertheless, upgrading to Windows 10 should be a pain-free experience – at least from your wallet’s perspective.
Microsoft’s voice assistant “Cortana” will be more fully integrated into the operating system
For the few of us who have actually used the Windows Phone, Cortana is already familiar as Microsoft’s version of Siri (Apple) and Google Now. Unlike Siri and Google Now, Cortana will be deeply integrated into the Windows 10 experience and will allow users to quickly and easily add appointments to their Exchange calendars, open installed applications and, of course, search the Web, all without touching a mouse or keyboard.
Gaming will be completely revamped, including support for Xbox One titles
While this isn’t necessarily something that all of you care about, it is still positive to see that Microsoft is working to integrate its disparate factions under one roof. Hopefully, the days in which communication was light and competition was fierce between Microsoft departments are now in the past, and the entire team can work together to provide the best possible products and services to Microsoft customers.
As far as gaming is concerned, Windows 10 will feature a much better gaming experience, thanks in large part to DirectX 12. Even more exciting is the fact that Xbox One games will be supported on Windows 10, which means that gamers on the Xbox One console will be able to play and interact with players who are playing the same game on a Windows 10 machine. There will be a number of other features that are now compatible across both platforms, which will make life much easier for gamers. While these might seem like minor points to non-gamers, it has been a pain point for gamers for decades.
Universal Office applications
In the spirit of moving closer to a “universal and unified” operating system, Microsoft has announced that many of its key applications will run across all form factors, from desktops and laptops to tablets and smartphones. In addition, the increasingly robust (and affordable) OneDrive cloud service will make storing and accessing documents across devices incredibly easy.
The popular Start Menu has returned
With Windows 8, Microsoft tried to create an operating system that was optimized for touch screens. One of the problems with that is that many people still aren’t using touch-enabled screens on their primary computing devices, and those same people were very comfortable and happy with the iconic Start Menu they had known and loved for years.
Fortunately, the Start Menu will be returning with Windows 10 and will be offering a number of new features that will combine the classic Start Menu with innovative new features that make Windows 10 a powerful and customizable operating system. (Be sure to click the above link for more information on those features.)
Two-factor authentication and other security innovations
Microsoft clearly understands how frustrating passwords can be, which is why it is doing everything it can to make them a part of the past. Windows 10 will have support for Fast Identity Online (Fido), which allows users to sign into various applications without needing to enter a different password for each. In addition, two-factor authentication will be available, which should significantly reduce the security risks long associated with running the most ubiquitous operating system on Earth.
Say goodbye to Internet Explorer
The much-maligned Internet Explorer is being resigned to the great recycle bin in the sky, which should be welcome news to enterprise users everywhere. The new operating system, currently known as Project Spartan, will be a completely new browser, which will include (among other things) full integration with Cortana, a simpler interface that utilizes less system resources, and the ability to customize your browsing experience based on your interests and preferences.
One operating system for all form factors
Finally, Windows 10 is being described as the “one application platform” that will be essentially the same on every device and form factor. The universal operating system has long been a goal of Microsoft, and it seems as though Windows 10 will be a major step in that direction. However, we won’t know for sure how close Microsoft has managed to get to its universal platform goal until we see the final release sometime this summer. You can believe that I will be among the first to download Windows 10 on launch day.
I will be writing more about Windows 10 as the release date approaches and will provide a full review of the official build after it launches.
For more information about managed services in Los Angeles, California, or for general questions about cloud migration, including how a managed service provider can ensure a seamless transition to an Office365 environment, please take a look at our website by visiting us at https://www.lastlinesolutions.com or call us at (310) 286-0111
Laurent Slutzky is the founder of Last Line Solutions Inc., a full service Managed Service Provider