On Jan. 21, Microsoft plans on giving the world a more in-depth look at Windows 10, the next major version of its primary operating system.
While many features of the new operating system remain under wraps, enough details have leaked out of Microsoft to give an idea of what’s in store when the software makes its marketplace debut later this year.
For starters, Windows 10 will almost certainly include a new browser, Spartan, with a streamlined interface. Rumors suggest that Microsoft will also make Spartan available on rival platforms such as Mac OS X, in a bid to regain at least some of the market-share that Microsoft’s current browser, Internet Explorer, has lost over the past few years. In addition, debuting a new browser with a different name would allow Microsoft to eventually divest itself entirely of Internet Explorer, which has gained something of a negative reputation over the years.
Windows 10 could support Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-activated digital assistant. With Google and Apple having established a significant presence in the digital-assistant field (Google with Google Now; Apple with Siri), Microsoft has little choice but to expand its own offering, which currently exists only on the little-used Windows Phone.
Speaking of Windows Phone, Microsoft may announce (again, based on current rumors) that the next version of the smartphone OS will share a significant portion of codebase with Windows 10, which could (in theory) facilitate the porting of apps between desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Whether that will revive Windows Phone’s chances at earning significant market-share, however, remains to be seen.
But Windows 10’s most radical addition is likely Continuum, Microsoft’s attempt to make its upcoming operating system work seamlessly on as many devices as possible. Continuum will auto-detect the hardware running Windows 10 and adjust its interface accordingly; those on desktops and laptops will see the “traditional” desktop, whereas those on tablets (as well as two-in-ones in tablet mode) will see an interface better suited for touch.
Microsoft is doing its best to move past Windows 8, which it released in 2012. In an attempt to capture the tablet market, Windows 8 featured a “Start screen” of colorful, touchable tiles linked to applications; upon the operating system’s release, the only way to access the familiar desktop environment was through one of those tiles. Business users and consumers reacted unkindly to the new interface, forcing Microsoft to introduce Windows 8.1, which permits booting a PC directly to the desktop.
With Windows 10, he has the chance to fix what his predecessors flubbed—and perhaps expand Windows’ presence in the mobile arena.
- Microsoft Planning Windows 10 Consumer Reveal
- Microsoft CEO on Windows 8: Whoops
- Windows 10: Microsoft Retreats to the Past