Yesterday Microsoft pulled the covers off of one of the most anticipated requested demanded...they showed off Threshold. While there’s not a huge amount of information to go around, I wanted to compile a list of features and impressions that I found interesting about the upcoming release. Twitter was absolutely remarkable during the announcement, so I’ll include some of my favorite tweets from the event, too.
They skipped Windows 9
The most surprising thing about the announcement was that it would be called Windows 10 as opposed to Windows 9. In response to a question about the rationale behind skipping version numbers, Microsoft suggested that it’s such an improvement over Windows 8 that Microsoft thinks we’ll all agree that Windows 9 should have been skipped. Just two questions later, though, they said “The best way to think of it, it will be a natural step forward from the Windows 8.1 model.” (Thanks to The Verge for their awesome live blog)
In reality, the reasoning behind the version change was probably best summed up by Mayunk Jain on Twitter:
#Windows10?! Didn't see that coming. On the other hand, what better way to ensure guaranteed buzz, other than create a WTF moment :-)— Mayunk Jain (@mayunkj) September 30, 2014
After all, it worked for the Xbox One.
Let's just hope they didn't skip a good OS in that whole good/bad pattern they have going on.
Though this was an enterprise-focued event, the demo appeared sparse in the technical department. Jack Madden noted that Microsoft will be adding corporate and personal data separation:
Windows 10 will have corporate and personal data separation. This is the way things are now.— Jack Madden (@jackmadden) September 30, 2014
Will this be an extension of the Work Folders feature of Windows 8.1, or something else? Jack also noted that Windows 10 will be the next Windows Phone OS, too. Since Android and iOS have also added support for work/personal separation, it makes sense that Microsoft does it as well.
Microsoft demonstrated a new command prompt as a way of showing just how deep they were willing to go into the OS to make changes. The demo showed the ability to use normal copy and paste shortcut keys in the command prompt window. They’ve made other changes too, such as text wrapping when the window is resized and a clipboard editor to remove oddball characters that would lead to syntax problems. I have been waiting nearly 20 years for that feature to be built in to Windows. The workarounds became automatic and I forgot it wasn’t native!
Also from the “we got tired of holding our breaths” department is the return of a proper Start Menu and windowed Metro applications. We knew they were coming, but to see them in action was reassuring. Why they put us through the past few years I’ll never know, but it looks like Microsoft is listening.
Metro apps in a Window. #facepalm What will they think of next?! (Seriously this is cool, though)— Gabe Knuth (@GabeKnuth) September 30, 2014
It also sounds like Microsoft is finally getting the message that you can’t expect enterprise users to simply get used to something new. It takes training, and when they’re done they need to feel like what they have is better than what they had. To that end, Joe Belfiore said, “We want all these Windows 7 users to have the sentiment that yesterday they were driving a first-generation Prius, and now with Windows 10 it’s like a Tesla. They don’t have to learn a new way to drive.”
Who could argue with that? I just wish Microsoft thought that way in 2012, then we wouldn’t have had to worry about teaching users to deal with what was essentially two different interfaces in one package. Microsoft made it clear that with Windows 10 they want that to go away. The OS will be aware of whether it is on a touch-driven device or a mouse-driven device (or a convertible), and it will provide the best experience it can for each of them regardless of the app that’s running.
"We don't want that duality, we want users on PCs with mice and keyboards to have their familiar UI.” > my hand and face are hurting.— Gabe Knuth (@GabeKnuth) September 30, 2014
Hints of desktops from Azure?
At one point in the Q&A period, a question was asked about the challenge of designing a platform across all devices. The answer from Microsoft was that they're building a platform that scales "from small devices all the way up to Azure." Of course this could mean that they are building Windows 10 Server (or whatever the name will be) for Azure, but this event wasn't about servers. If Windows 10 will have some sort of Azure component, we're also likely to see sweeping licensing changes. It's been rumored before, but this is the first official linking of Windows 10 to Azure that I've heard.
We still have a while to wait
I seem to recall some news in the dark recesses of the interwebs saying that Threshold would be available late this year or very early next year, but we learned today that Windows 10 would not be released until later in 2015, or roughly a year from now. The Tech Preview is supposed to be available today (though I’m not sure what time), which will at least whet our appetites. We’ll probably have to wait until Microsoft’s Build conference in April or for whatever they’re going to call the TechEd/MMS replacement that will happen in Chicago in May (which currently has the exciting title of “Unified Technology Event For Enterprises”) for the more consumer-ish features and to learn about any other new features.
For the first time in a long time I’m actually excited to get my hands on Windows. I really think Microsoft is making a strong attempt to get it right as opposed to trying to drag us along with them on some cockamamie path to a twisted future. I can’t wait to hear what everyone thinks.