Why is Microsoft coming out with a new OS so fast after releasing 8.0 and 8.1?
Progressive Computing CEO Robert Cioffi
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Windows 8.0 and 8.1 represented a pretty radical shift in terms of an operating system. They didn’t look anything like previous operating systems and they attempted to address two major hardware technologies that were becoming much more prevalent in the marketplace. One was mobility for a smartphone or a tablet. Microsoft really didn’t have an operating system answer to that hardware technology. The second was touch devices, which are not limited to smartphones, tablets, and laptops anymore. Now, even large desktop monitors have touch screen capability, so 8.0 and 8.1 came out to address that situation.
Windows 10 is going to fundamentally be the same operating system but with just enough important improvements that will make it something that people will want, just as much as people wanted Windows 7 but did not want Vista. Most people will be hard-pressed to notice the difference between 8.0 and 10 just looking at it quickly on the surface, but once they start to use it and get into the details they will appreciate why they want Windows 10.
What features will Windows 10 have that will be new and improved from Windows 8.0 and 8.1?
Windows 10 is still in beta so some features may not necessarily make it to the end, but one feature I think is going to stick is a big improvement in user interface. Previous Windows users who jumped into Windows 8.0 were very frustrated by the total loss of the start menu—that sort of warm and comforting user interface that we’ve had since Windows 95. This was a 20-year-old interface that people were accustomed to, so bringing back the traditional start menu and integrating it in a very smart way that still allows for the customizable, tile-based [Metro] interface will give people the comfort of adopting the new operating system.
Another benefit I found very interesting—but am wondering if, as a society, we’re ready to adopt—is Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. The interesting thing about Cortana is that there’s more of an artificial intelligence built into it. It’s very context-based. For instance, you can ask, “Who is the president of the United States?” and both platforms will be able to answer the question. But if you then follow up with a question of, “How old is he?”—notice that the question was not how old is the president of the United States, but it is a follow up question to the first question—Siri doesn’t handle that very well. Cortana uses the first conversation as contextual information to answer follow up questions. It also learns your habits and can look at things like conflicting appointments in your calendar and report some information back to you, where Siri would just insert an appointment. From a consumer perspective, I think Cortana will get wide-use acceptance just like Siri has, but I’m wondering whether or not that technology will be used in a business setting. We use a mouse and a keyboard now, but we don’t really use our voices to communicate with our computers. But if you think about it, a lot of business people struggle with the question of, “Where did I put that file?” Now you can ask instead of searching around yourself.
How will an upgrade to Windows 10 benefit small businesses?
There has to be a compelling business reason to upgrade. Don’t upgrade for upgrades sake or just because it’s free. The operating system may be free, but you need an IT professional to install it and navigate through all the potential issues that come along with it, including software compatibility and attaching your peripherals, so you’ve got to be careful. The last thing you want to do is upgrade your computers and find out you can’t use a critical business application—then what was the point?
Windows 10 is free for computers with 8.0 and 8.1, correct? What about Windows 7 users?
They are making the upgrade free for any Windows 8.0 or 8.1 device, which is a bit of a surprise, but it’s a smart move that demonstrates Microsoft’s commitment to win back some of the market share that it’s been losing to competitive technologies like Google and Apple. Microsoft is serious about getting people on this operating system.
Which Microsoft users should take advantage of the free upgrade and which shouldn’t?
If you’re on Windows 8.0 and 8.1, I would strongly recommend upgrading to Windows 10 because you’re going to get features and benefits that you didn’t have before, it’s free, and there will be an extremely high probability of full compatibility.
Watch a demo of Windows 10 in action below
But the thing that you need to always be worried about when upgrading your operating system is whether or not the hardware you have is capable of running it. If you’ve got an older machine with Windows 7, you may want to think twice about taking the free upgrade because your machine simply might not be able to handle the requirements of Windows 10. Windows 7 is still a great operating system and it will be around for a long time to come. If you’re on Windows 7, you may want to think of an upgrade by attrition, meaning you will upgrade to Windows 10 when your computer retires and you go to buy a new one. You have to be concerned about the application compatibility issues and compatibility between devices. If you have an older machine, the compatibility issues will be greater and therefore it’s likely not advisable that you do it unless there is a compelling or practical reason to upgrade.
How long will support last for Windows 7?
It’s not going away anytime soon; end of support is January 14, 2020. If you bought a brand new computer today in 2015 with Windows 7, by 2020 it’s five years old. A typical machine, at least in a business setting, probably shouldn’t be used after five years anyway, so there is still a generation of brand new technology that will be supporting Windows 7.
Will Windows 10 work across different platforms (PC, Phone, Tablets)? If so, how does that benefit their customers?
It is designed with intention to work across platforms. One of the promises of Windows 10 is to make one unified platform and one operating system for all of those pieces of hardware. The operating system has the ability to transcend and transfer between devices, so when you go from a smartphone to a tablet to a laptop to a desktop, the operating system will be sensitive to whatever environment it’s on. There are a lot of devices out now that are both a tablet and a laptop, so I can pull the keyboard off my laptop and it becomes a tablet. Windows 10 will be able to sense when it’s in tablet mode and when it’s in laptop mode.
When will Windows 10 be released?
There is some speculation that it will be released in the second half of the year; at least that’s what Microsoft COO Kevin Turner has been saying. Knowing Microsoft and their past behavior, I think it will be at the end of their fiscal year in either late June or early July, which coincides with their annual Worldwide Partner Conference, and they tend to make big announcements there. It could also be released in the Fall gearing up for the holiday season.