Microsoft announces Windows 10, Insider Programme

September 30, 2014 // 10:32 p.m.

Tags: #microsoft #operating-system #terry-myerson #windows-10 #windows-10-insider-progra #windows-10-insider-programme #windows-9 #windows-threshold

Microsoft has, as expected, announced the next-generation version of its Windows operating system - but contrary to expectation and rumour it will launch as Windows 10, not Windows 9.

Leaks surrounding Windows Threshold have been coming for some time, revealing such plans as the reintroduction of the Start Menu removed in Windows 8 and a rapid release cycle reminiscent of the company's competition. What nobody expected, however, was the naming convention. The codename Windows Threshold was confirmed as being replaced by the final moniker Windows 9 by Microsoft France president Alain Crozier earlier this month, but the company's retraction of the matter turns out to have been entirely true: the next Windows release will be Windows 10, not Windows 9.

The version jump comes with a perhaps surprising regression in user experience: with the changes wrought by Microsoft following consumer feedback on Windows 8 and Windows 8.1's Modern - formerly Metro - user interface, the overall appearance is something more like Windows 7 than its immediate predecessor. Under the hood, though Microsoft is targeting a wider selection of devices than ever: the company name-dropped everything from embedded Internet of Things (IoT) implementations and four-inch mobiles through to desktops connected to 80" and larger displays. This adaptability, Microsoft claimed, will expand to input devices: full support for touch, pen, mouse, keyboard, controllers and gestures is claimed to be baked into Windows 10 as standard. 'Windows 10 will deliver the right experience on the right device at the right time,' boasted Microsoft's Terry Myerson of the impending launch. 'Windows 10 will run on the broadest types of devices ever. We’re not talking about one UI to rule them all – we’re talking about one product family, with a tailored experience for each device.'

As well as the new Start Menu, which includes the previously-leaked implementation of the Modern UI's Live Tiles, the announcement included the news that the days of Modern UI applications taking over the system are gone. 'Apps from the Windows Store now open in the same format that desktop apps do,' Myerson confirmed, 'and can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing for maximise, minimise, and close with a click.' In other words: there's no longer a real distinction between Modern UI applications and legacy desktop applications, at least in terms of user experience. Additional changes include the abiity to snap applications into a quadrant layout, a new Task View button for quick focus switching, the rumoured virtual desktop facility, and boosted search performance.

Sadly, the announcement everyone was waiting for - that, like Apple's OS X Mavericks and upcoming Yosemite, Windows 10 will be made available as a free upgrade to all existing Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users - did not appear. Instead of pricing and availability, beyond a vague commitment to 'late 2015,' Microsoft announced its Windows 10 Insider Programme. Targeted at its most vocal supporters, the programme is due to go live late tomorrow at the official website and will provide beta access to Windows 10 ahead of its general release.

More details about Windows 10, its features and the upcoming Insider Programme are available in the official announcement post. Alternatively, you can see Microsoft's Joe Belfiore introducing the operating system in the below video.


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