From today, Microsoft will start rolling out Windows 10 — the latest version of its operating system.
It might not have been the disaster that Vista was, but Windows 8 was also not the game changer Redmond wanted it to be. But Microsoft seems to have learnt from past mistakes and is opting for a safer path with the new edition, possibly the last of the Windows. As Microsoft’s India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik says, Windows 10 is “familiar and always up to date”.
Vineet Durani, director, Windows business group at Microsoft India, says one of the missteps the company made was to think of the PC as the hub of everything. “To make the same assumption about the mobile phone is not a construct that we want to go into now as we believe we are setting ourselves up for the future. We look at mobility very differently. We believe there will be a cloud fabric that will intertwine devices of all kinds, even outside our ecosystem,” he told IndianExpress.com. He added that for Microsoft, mobility of experience will be the key and not mobility of the device itself.
“The Windows 10 team looked at how they could engineer for an operating system that could last for the multitude of devices that are existing today and a multitude that will come into existence in the future,” he said, adding that one of the fundamental shifts was to move on from the three-four year cycle they used to follow earlier for operating systems.
Microsoft’s strategy, and what could be called the driver behind Windows 10, is therefore three-pronged: personal computing, intelligent cloud and improving productivity and processes.
“So we have a team that is working on a common core shell that takes Windows 10 across all devices, and consumer experience teams that maximise the experience on each of these devices,” he says. Now, developers will be able to write a universal app for Windows 10 and be able to run it on everything from a smartphone to the futuristic Hololens. To make life easy for developers, Microsoft also has bridges available for porting Android and iOS apps to Windows 10. “Our stated goal is to get Windows 10 to a billion devices in the next three years and that is a large opportunity for developers to target,” he adds.
The new Windows 10 will constantly get upgrades and break itself free of the cycles, prompting Microsoft to call it the last of the Windows. But this also makes it easier for them to push innovation and new features into devices rather than waiting to bundle it all together as large upgrade. Even the initial install will be a wholistic in-place upgrade, negating the need for backup.
The other crucial feature will be personalisation, driven by Cortana, the intelligent personal assistant. “Cortana will manifest itself in different ways across the ecosystem. It will use machine learning to use all your information to become reactive and help you work better,” he says, adding that Cortana will also be available on other platforms. “She should travel with you if she is your personal assistant.”
Incidentally, there will be lag before Cortana for desktop is rolled out for India and the feature is expected to be available from September.
Windows 10 will also push natural interfaces by promoting speech and inking, the latter manifesting itself strongly in the new Edge browser which will natively have annotation features.
“Windows 10 has inking built by default as we believe there is significant innovation that can brought into this space,” says Durani.
From September, users in India can expect to see devices that will make full use of Windows 10’s innovative features like Hello which is dependent on facial recognition. Most of the other features, will be available for all upgrades.
Every 2-in-1 device sold from September will have a sensor built in to ensure users get to experience the continuum of working of different types of devices automatically.