Windows 10

All Eyes on Redmond with Windows 10 on the Horizon

On Wednesday, Microsoft will host the media for a day-long drill-down of the eagerly-awaited Windows 10 at its Redmond, Washington campus. While this isn’t our first look at the new OS, it will by far be the most detailed, and the company will for the first time explain how this system will work on smartphones, tablets and other devices, in addition to PCs. And if you were burned by the lackluster Windows 8, you might want to stay tuned to this event.

And stay tuned you can: I’ll be live-tweeting from the event via my Twitter feed, and Microsoft will live-stream the group briefing portion of the event starting at 9 am PT/12 pm ET. You can find out more about this event from my post Watch the Windows 10 Consumer Event Live Online.

In the unlikely event that you don’t understand the significance of Windows 10, I think I can explain it pretty easily: Windows releases have become somewhat like “Star Trek” movies where every other one is well-received, but the others are garbage. And we’re coming off what is clearly the worst release ever.

Let’s review.

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After years of delays, Microsoft finally shipped Windows Vista to stunned customers in late 2006, but then followed it up with the acclaimed Windows 7 release in 2009, fixing bugs and performance issues, and cleaning up the user experience. But the 2012 Windows 8 release was Microsoft’s biggest clunker of all, a nearly universally-disdained melding of mobile and desktop paradigms that didn’t do either particularly well. Since then, the software giant has been scrambling to set things right, and while interim (and free) releases like Windows 8.1 and Windows 8.1 Update 1 have helped to calm some customers, much more work needs to be done.

If you’ve done your math right, then you’re probably thinking that Windows 10 is poised to be one of the good Windows releases. And sure enough, all of the information I’ve seen indicates that will be the case.

But Windows 10 has big shoes to fill, and the same market trends that doomed Windows 8 make this release all the more important. Think back to Windows Vista for an easy comparison: In the world of 2006, the iPhone and iPad hadn’t happened yet, and if you accept Google’s imaginary timeline, Android was to be a Blackberry-like system that ran on devices with tiny screens and hardware keyboards. So Microsoft swinging for the fences and missing with Vista was bad, but not an extinction event, and Windows was still able to easily swat away erstwhile competitors like the Mac and Linux-powered netbooks.

Windows 8 was different because it was launched into a world of mobile devices, and Windows isn’t just not the biggest platform anymore, it’s not even number two: It now has to compete in a world of much more popular Android and iOS devices. So with Windows 10, it’s not as simple as tightening things up. Microsoft really needs to get it right.

The good news is, I think they have.

Based on my early pre-release experience with Windows 10, I can say that traditional PC users will experience a far more natural upgrade from Windows 7, with a desktop OS focus that includes a Start menu and removes virtually all of the Metro gunk that users found so objectionable in Windows 8.

But what this week’s event will show us is how well Windows 10 works on other devices. Smartphones. Tablets. Hybrid PCs that can transform between PC and laptop form factors. And even Xbox video game consoles and, possibly, tiny headline “Internet of Things” devices. I’ve been told to expect surprises. Good surprises.

Windows 10’s applicability across such a diverse range of devices—on which it will share a common app platform and store, a boon to developers—is what makes it so special. And if Microsoft can pull this off, it will be the tech comeback story of the decade.

To be clear, I don’t see Windows racing ahead of Android and iOS, ever: that ship has sailed and Windows will instead coexist in a heterogeneous world of devices and services. But if Microsoft can extend Windows past the PC with this release, it can grab a smaller percentage of a much bigger market and can become more relevant to all of us as a result. If you’ve spent your life supporting Windows and the people who use it, that’s a big deal.

See you in Redmond. I can’t wait to find out what Microsoft reveals.

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Comments (7)

7 responses to “All Eyes on Redmond with Windows 10 on the Horizon”

  1. I’m excited for tomorrow, I’m only about 1.5hrs from Redmond, wish I could see it in person. I’ve been testing Win10 on my SP3 since it was released, but I really want to get my hands on the release for WP. I’m looking for some special things to compliment the screen size of my Lumia 1520.

    • I would really like to try out Windows 10 on my phone as well. It’ll be interesting to see how well it runs on my 920 though, which in todays age is getting on a bit now!

      I have a feeling the new Office apps will look and work great on the bigger screens like your 1520.

  2. Eh. I think Windows Vista or Windows ME were the worst releases ever. Windows 8 worked very well in terms of performance under the hood. You can’t say that for those two earlier releases. It’s just the UI that was screwed up so bad.

    If I had to choose between bad performance or a bad UI, I’d rather the OS have a bad UI that I can fix via various third party apps. Performance in an OS is next to impossible to fix via third party installs.

  3. Windows Vista was hands down the worst Windows release ever, no doubt about that to me. It ran horrible on all old and new machines i had and also anyone else i knew had. It was indeed running so horribly (until several updates later) that it made a very large part of people i know switch over to Macs and from there right to iPhones and iPads.
    Windows 8, yes, was a huge fail on many ends, too, but if one could get over the annoying parts, it was actually a very well performing OS (even better than 7) and hence was then quite usable. One “just” had to get over all the parts that could annoy one (and did for many), like the charms bar, fullscreen metro apps and startscreen, two browser versions etc. It didn’t have any of the ciritcal issues Vista had though like severe performance issues on pretty much all perfectly fine hardware or missing driver support for most peripherals etc.

    • Hi Robert, we set up a widget on the main page called “Paul @ Petri”, where you’ll be able to see his articles that are posted to petri.com. Thanks for reading!

  4. Quote below from the Paul’s post above:

    “Based on my early pre-release experience with Windows 10, I can say that traditional PC users will experience a far more natural upgrade from Windows 7, with a desktop OS focus that includes a Start menu and removes virtually all of the Metro gunk that users found so objectionable in Windows 8.”

    I ditto someone who i agree:
    “Personally, I expect to be completely disappointed by the new UI. Other
    than having a start menu option and running WinRT apps on the desktop,
    nearly everything UI-related has looked terrible so far (especially for
    my Surface Pro). And having the same SKU for tablets and phones (like
    is rumored) seems like a bad idea, as it’ll end up gimping those smaller
    tablets. I’m not expecting Continuum to be the answer, either. Maybe
    I’ll be surprised, but I don’t expect it.”

    “User interface is customer service for the computer,” that says Julie Larson-Green, and Windows 7 was her idea. telegraph.co.uk/technology/microsoft/6514559/Im-Julie-Larson-Green-and-Windows-7-was-my-idea
    Where is she now with Windows 10 by the way?

    Aero on Windows 7 was nice, it was visually rich and had its own identity, now it’s all bleak and empty. I don’t like it.
    I
    think taskbar transparency works better with the blur effect; because
    it lets the wallpaper show but does not disturb readability too much. In
    Windows 8 they disabled blur, now they disable transparency… I don’t
    know why, either. I was perfectly OK with how windows 7 looked.

    I
    don’t like the new non-transparent taskbar ( in leaked build 9901) . I
    think it was nice. Now it looks more and more like metro/modern UI, or a
    very old windows 95 or 98 thing.
    Don’t get me wrong, flat design per
    se can be nice, but these changes look like Windows and Windows Phone
    are closer and closer, and a phone OS is NOT what I want on my
    production machines.
    Aero in Win 7 looks so much better. Easier to look at andnavigate. One of the reasons Windows 7 out sells Windows 8.

    We
    should have an option to bring back Aero ,transparency, and blur
    effects as it was in Win 7 along with rounded corners, buttons, etc., as
    opposed to the full square windows in Windows 8.1
    What matters is choice.

    Metro UI should be optional.
    I
    hope Microsoft finally get things together and do NOT force-include
    metro UI elements in the desktop UI. This is stupid, ugly (as it breaks
    consistence among the platform), and counterproductive for advanced
    users.
    On the other hand, users who choose Metro UI shouldn’t have to
    switch to desktop if they don’t want to. For instance, having to go to
    the desktop on an ARM tablet (which doesn’t have real applications like
    on x86) is strange because the desktop is only used for the file
    explorer (almost).
    So they should clearly separate desktop/tablet/mobile usage schemes.

    Releasing
    different SKUs is the idea they should have gone with from the start
    (desktop only for mouse-keyboard computers, both UIs for tablets such as
    the Surface Pro, and Metro only for low-end, cheap ARM tablets).I sure
    do hope they stick to that idea, because all the Metro/Modern UI takes
    space on the drive and makes the whole system more complex for nothing,
    at least for me who don’t use it at all.(plus it’s super annoying to
    have metro UI pop, for example, when searching for Bluetooth devices.
    Why ?)
    I never ever use Metro UI on my computers on windows 8. I
    never ever use it on my PC (except to add Bluetooth devices, because
    there is no other way), and not anymore on my Surface Pro, despite it
    being a tablet. Such a low-density UI is not appropriate for any serious
    usage, and MS should have let users choose not to install it
    altogether.
    Win 8.1 apart from that, I must say it’s a pretty good OS
    : Better frame-rate in games and overall performance, very stable, nice
    new task manager and file copy dialogs, Ribbon for FileExplorer,
    BitLocker not needing a TPM to run anymore, make it a very good system.
    But users focus on the Metro UI problem (though they can avoid it
    altogether), which makes the switch difficult for them.Looking forward for Win 10.

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Paul Thurrott is an award-winning technology journalist and blogger with over 20 years of industry experience and the author of over 25 books. He is the News Director for the Petri IT Knowledgebase, the major domo at Thurrott.com, and the co-host of three tech podcasts: Windows Weekly with Leo Laporte and Mary Jo Foley, What the Tech with Andrew Zarian, and First Ring Daily with Brad Sams. He was formerly the senior technology analyst at Windows IT Pro and the creator of the SuperSite for Windows.
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