Microsoft announced and highlighted some new features of the Windows 10 Technical Preview on Tuesday, September 30.
The PC version of the Tech Preview went live on October 1, 2014, but it is recommended for “expert users” and developers at this stage.
The official public released is scheduled for “later in 2015.”
Microsoft didn’t give a clear date at their Windows press conference on Tuesday.
Here is an overview of what the next edition of the Windows operating system will bring.
From three to one
Windows 8 is really three different pieces of software for the PC (Windows 8/Windows 8.1), smartphones (Windows Phone), and other mobile devices (Windows RT).
Windows 10, however, is being designed to work on all devices.
“Windows 10 will run on the broadest amount of devices. A tailored experience for each device,” said Terry Myerson, Microsoft Executive VP of Operating Systems.
“There will be one way to write a universal application, one store, one way for apps to be discovered purchased and updated across all of these devices.”
This will certainly help to simplify and streamline the Windows line, and allow Microsoft to provide better software support across devices.
Going back to the Start
The iconic Start Menu will make a comeback after being “exiled” in Windows 8.
Of course Microsoft is not adopting the Windows 7 Start Menu or some earlier version lock, stock, and barrel.
Rather, the Windows 10 Start Menu will combine familiar Start Menu elements and design along with aspects from the Modern/Metro user interface in Windows 8.
Personalization is the keyword as apps can be attached and resized in the right panel of the Start Menu.
Purists have the option of removing the apps and keeping it in a “classic” style.
Also, if one is connected to the Internet, doing a Start Menu search in Windows 10 will bring up a web search.
Windows Mission Control?
Virtual desktops will feature in Windows 10.
In a nutshell, a PC with a virtual desktops feature allows users to create more than one desktop space to work on in the same machine.
This feature is not new to Mac OS X and Linux users though, and they will find the new Windows 10 “Task View” button, which launches and switches virtual desktops, highly reminiscent of Apple’s Mission Control and Exposé features.
Windows 10 Technical Preview users can expect a certain level of customizability for their virtual desktops, which would be helpful in switching say from a work to a home desktop.
Microsoft says that programs that are opened in all virtual desktops will run in the background.
There will be a new “quadrant layout” that allows up to four apps to be “snap” on the same screen in a variety of ways.
Also, apps can be viewed in windowed mode and will not be full screen-only like in Windows 8.
Improved keyboard, mouse, and touch integration
Microsoft is introducing a new “Continuum” system that allows users to switch more seamlessly between touch, mouse, and keyboard input elements.
Continuum will be worked into design aspects in the new Start Menu and windowed apps, for example.
“We’re trying to be thoughtful about a UI that goes across all devices,” said Joe Belfiore, Corporate Vice President of the Operating Systems Group at Microsoft.
Microsoft did not confirm or deny rumors that Windows 10 will eventually be rolled out free to Windows 8 users.
There is also no word on bringing Cortana, the Windows Phone personal digital assistant, over to the desktop.