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Microsoft Windows is the ever changing, yet somehow staying basically the same operating system which took the world by storm, oh all those years ago. It has forever frustrated users around the world, not least because the names of each new version don’t make any sense at all. The latest rendition, due for launch Tuesday night at midnight, is Windows 10. No, there was no Windows 9 – from 7 to 8, and onto 10.
So, the launch of Windows 10 is a big deal. It represents the most significant change in PC software for 3 years, and Microsoft have tried, not too hard though it seems, to provide users with something new[ish]. What they have actually managed to accomplish is a kind-of, sort-of hybrid of the two previous versions, Windows 7 and 8. For all appearances, it is Windows 7 though, only better looking, and hopefully, able to perform better too. We would like to remind our readers about Microsoft leading the brands that embraced Internet of Things, so in that context this upgrade is a good step ahead.
The Step Backward
Microsoft claim that this latest operating system is a huge step forward, but they have taken at least one step back as well. Back by popular demand is the Start Menu. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, what went missing in 8 has returned in Windows 10. Only, it’s no longer quite alone. No, the Start Menu now includes the tile-based interface from Windows 8, in a quite transparent attempt to placate fans of both user interfaces.
The Step Forward
On the other hand, the tech giants have taken a rather large, and surprisingly positive, step forward. The new Windows will remain the software regardless of the device you use. You can now run the same OS, and access the same apps, on your desktop, your phone, and all the other gadgets which exist in the world of Windows. That’s right: one Windows to find them, bring them all, and in the darkness bind them.
Caught in Between
It does seem, however, that Microsoft has succumbed to pressure, and quite uncertain of how to proceed, they chose simply to try and make everyone happy. With Windows 8, they attempted to provide their users with a new experience – the touch, the tiles, and the infamously missing Start Menu. It didn’t take. Not as well as Microsoft would have hoped. They went back to the tried and tested, and it seemed users were happy.
Now, therefore, they are playing it safe. Instead of sticking to the modern, futuristic interface they introduced in Windows 8, they have presented us with a merging of the past and the future. So no, Windows 10 does not look like it contains any cutting-edge innovations, not from the Beta version we have available right now. However, it does have certain user interface improvements and refinements which lend to its final look.
The Transparency Option
The Start Menu, as mentioned above, has been brought back, and represents one of the biggest UI changes from Windows 8 to 10. It has also been rendered transparent, and if the rumor mill is to be believed, it’s only a taste of what is to come. Supposedly, plenty more user interface elements will be made transparent as well. Fortunately, all this transparency will be optional, so those who do not favor this look can choose otherwise.
The Streamline Agenda
One of the most pleasant things about Windows 10 revealed by the Technical Preview is that it looks significantly more streamlined than any version previously released. The icons look good, the buttons are better aligned, hit boxes have been improved, but the best of the lot is the new Task View button on the taskbar. It allows you to switch between multiple desktops, much like the Exposé feature in Mac OS X.
The Best of the Rest
Windows 10 may, as Microsoft claim, prove to be the best operating system they have ever introduced. We cannot be sure yet. However, there are subtle hints in design that what we have seen so far, is truly only a preview of what we can expect from the imminent full release. The thing to look forward to most, perhaps, is the ability to use universal apps, through Windows, on your desktop.
When all is said and done, the one thing Windows 10 has managed to convey so far, is that Microsoft at least seem like they understand their audience. More importantly, it really feels like they want to cater to their audience’s wishes, likes, and preferences too. Windows 10, above and beyond anything else, looks to be a crowd pleaser at the moment.
It has a bit of what everyone wants, with the apparent absence of what nobody wants. However, what it truly lacks, it seems, is a sense of conviction from Microsoft in their strategy going forward. The latest OS version is the soft option, the easy way out. Where, though, is the drive towards the future one expects from an industry giant the likes of Microsoft? We’ll have to wait, and see what we get with Windows 10. For all that it looks good, those looks can be deceiving.