The current version, Windows 8, has been widely derided for forcing radical behavioral changes. Microsoft is restoring some of the more traditional ways of doing things and promises that Windows 10 will be familiar for users regardless of which version of Windows they are now using.
For instance, the start menu in Windows 10 will appear similar to what's found in Windows 7, but tiles opening to the side will resemble what's found in Windows 8.
Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft executive who oversees Windows design and evolution, said Windows 10 will offer ''the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the benefits that exist in Windows 8'' to help business users make the transition.
Microsoft offered a glimpse of its vision for Windows at a San Francisco event Tuesday aimed at business customers. Although the new software won't be formally released until next year, analysts already consider its success crucial for Microsoft and new CEO Satya Nadella.
The new software represents an attempt to step back from the radical redesign that alienated many PC users when Windows 8 was introduced two years ago. But it's not a complete retreat from Microsoft's goal of bridging the gap between PCs and mobile devices: It still has touch-screen functions and strives to create a familiar experience for Windows users who switch between desktop computers, tablets and smartphones.
Microsoft executive Terry Myerson said Windows 10 will be ''a whole new generation'' and, as expected, will work across a variety of devices - from phones to gaming consoles.
Microsoft currently has three main systems - Windows 8 for traditional computers and tablets, Windows Phone 8 for cellphones and Xbox for its gaming console. By unifying the underlying systems, software developers will be able to create apps for the various devices more easily. Consumers will also be able to switch devices more easily and avoid having to buy the same apps multiple times.