Microsoft announces Windows 10: Here are the highlights

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Microsoft finally announced the next version of its flagship operating system – Windows 10. The name doesn’t definitely match with expectations. But Microsoft claims it represents such a significant leap over Windows 8 that calling it Windows 9 would do no justice to it.

Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s head of operating systems said the latest software will be compatible across a variety of devices such as desktops, laptops, tablets, phablets and smartphones, and it will be the most comprehensive platform ever. Its user interface will adjust accordingly.

Starting October 1, you can sign up for the Windows Insider Program that gives you hands on the technical view of Windows 10. Microsoft says its launching this beta process to get more feedback from users early on, but also added that this will be a learning experience for the company and some features that users experience in new designs may not be included in the final version. It’s basically a combination of Windows 7 and 8 that inherits design elements from each of Microsoft’s two most recent operating systems.

Windows is the most widely used PC operating system in the world, but it is slowly losing its popularity as more people have their smartphones and tablets run on different operating systems (from Apple and Google). That’s why Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella wants to create one system that supports all devices.

Users will be able to jump from tablet to “mouse and keyboard mode” and back. Windows 10 is committed to support these touch scenarios.

Microsoft executives stressed repeatedly that switching over to Windows 10 won’t be a challenge for businesses or consumers who are familiar with Windows 7 or even earlier versions. Joe Belfiore compared it to buying a new car with a more powerful engine and a better audio system, without having to learn a new trick to drive.

The final version of the OS is expected to arrive in the middle of next year, and Microsoft has indicated it will continually release updates to the new OS after it first ships.

Here are the highlights as demonstrated by Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s operating systems group.

Redesigned Start Menu

Microsoft has finally confirmed the return of Start Menu in Windows 10 that allows users to pin all those Metro tiles directly to the menu. You can resize and customize the tiles however you would like. The removal of Start Menu on Windows 8 hurt the progress of the operating system. The new Start Menu combines the basic Windows 7 menu with resizable tiles of Windows 8 start screen.

Task view

Task view button is found to the right of the search button on the task bar. This helps you see all the open apps in a particular windows environment. So if you have access to more than one desktop, the virtual machines show up at the bottom of the screen. Although this was possible by the use of third-party software, now it’s finally integrated directly into the new operating system. It is easy and fast to switch from environment to environment and in between apps. Task view displays the apps you have opened along the middle of the screen.

Alt –tab key

If you have some apps open on the current desktop and a few more in a virtual machine, you can toggle between all of them with alt-tab. It’s another way in which Microsoft offers a better multi-tasking experience to its old and new users through their new operating system.

Snap Assist

Snap Assist that builds on the snapping functionality was first featured in Windows 8. It’s a helpful feature when multiple desktops open and is easy to switch between apps.

Command mode

If you really want to use your keyboard, you can always switch back to the command line too, which has also improved a lot. The new operating system supports shortcuts like CTRL + C and CTRL + V so you can paste in a directory listing form a different app.

Universal search

There’s a new universal search in the start menu that extracts results from the web. Microsoft has not yet disclosed anything about prices or any incentive programs to get users to upgrade from older version of Windows operating system.

Via: Reuters