The next version of Windows is almost here, with Microsoft revealing more about Windows 10, an OS that skips a number and unites a bunch of devices under one operating system.
Some might say that Windows 8 was a turning point for Microsoft, as the company tried to embrace the whole idea of touch. Indeed, if you had a touchscreen computer, things were easy, but what about the other 99 percent that had a regular screen, mediocre mouse, and a desire to use the desktop?
When Windows 8 rocked up, many were confused, with large icons, a horizontally scrolling display, and a feeling of something foreign. To make it better and easier to use, you needed a new monitor with touchscreen support, or at the very least, a decent trackpad, and many just weren’t there.
Fortunately, a year later, Windows 8.1 arrived, a version of Windows 8 that fixed some of the problems and made it possible to go back to using the desktop the way people were used to. Sort of.
You still had to deal with that home screen, but at least the full screen apps could look like a desktop, and the original desktop could even load from the get go, without any extra apps doing it for you.
But people still weren’t happy, and understandably so. Windows had changed, and not necessarily for the better. Sure, if you had a modern touchscreen computer, you were having a better time, but not everyone else, and so Microsoft went back to the drawing board.
What has come of this research and development?
Announced last year, Microsoft is this week showing more about what it will be doing to make its operating system better and more convenient for users, starting with bringing all of the Windows devices to work with one operating system.
Your PC will run a version of Windows that will be similar to the variant a phone can run, and like that appearing on the Xbox.
Theoretically, this means apps you buy on platforms should be able to be shared, but it also means that the apps that come with Windows 10 — Music, Maps, Video, People and Messaging, as well as Photos — will work across devices, with a similar look and synchronisation through Microsoft’s cloud storage solution OneDrive.
More than that, it means, according to this week’s announcement, Microsoft will even let Windows 10 computers play against Xbox One owners if the games are compatible, which will be a very neat inclusion, while streaming from the Xbox to other devices will also be possible.
Tablets with keyboards — what we refer to as a “hybrid” laptop — will also receive a mode called “continuum mode” whereby when a keyboard is detected, Windows 10 will automatically switch to the mode best for that accessory.