(By Mark Prigg)
Microsoft has decided to jump straight to version 10 of its Windows software in a bid to convince consumers the software is different from current versions.
The firm announced the latest version of its Windows operating system, called Windows 10, at an event in San Francisco.
The firm admitted the software was ‘at a threshold’ after the poorly received Windows 8.
Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s Windows chief said: ‘There’s about one and a half billion people using Windows today.
‘Devices outnumber people.
‘Windows is at a threshold and now it’s time for a new Windows.
‘Our new Windows must be built from the ground up for a mobile first, cloud first world.
‘It wouldn’t be right to call it Windows 9.’
Microsoft says the new operating system will run on the ‘broadest types of devices ever’ and sees the companies various app stores merged into one platform, called the One Store.
This will cover all of the company’s smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.
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.
It also marks the return of the start Menu, which had been removed from Windows 8.
In addition to offering a list of the user’s favourite applications, the menu also brings up resizable tiles – similar to those featured in Windows 8’s touch-centric interface – on PCs and tablets.
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.
‘Windows 10 will deliver the right experience, at the right time.
‘Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform, ever,’ said Mr Myerson.
‘We’re delivering one application platform. One store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased, and updated across all of these devices.’
The technology giant had been expected to announce an update to its flagship Windows software after the previous upgrade, Windows 8, which saw a major overhaul of the interface and functionality, received mixed reviews within the user community.
Microsoft says its new version of Windows will be ‘familiar’ and compatible with existing management systems already in use around the world.
Mr Myerson also announced the launch of the Windows Insider Program, which will allow Microsoft fans and users to get early versions of the new software and become part of the development team by testing Windows 10 and suggesting improvements.
The service will launch tomorrow.
‘We’re inviting our enthusiastic fans to evaluate it with us.
‘We know they’re a vocal bunch.’
Windows 10 was confirmed to launch ‘later in the year in 2015’.
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.
Belfiore said that the company was going ‘back to basics’ with Windows 10, and confirmed that the famous start menu, which was removed from Windows 8, would be returning.
‘We’re looking to find the balance, so that all the Windows 7 users get a familiar experience on the devices they already have,’ he said.
‘It gives the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the elements of Windows 8.’
He said that going from Windows 8 to Windows 10 is like going from a Prius to a Tesla.
‘They don’t have to learn any new way to drive.’
Mr Belfiore also confirmed that Windows 10 would be compatible with both traditional and touch-based device users like tablets through a new task view with buttons scaled up so that they’re more friendly to those on touchscreen devices.
Users on hybrid devices like the Surface Pro tablet will be able to jump between and keyboard and touchscreen modes, with Microsoft demonstrating how the interface will change as you do.
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.
However, it is 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 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.
The Bill Gates-founded company is pushing to challenge the likes of Apple across multiple platforms, but remains the market leader when it comes to desktop computing.
The company has also launched a Windows Phone and Windows-powered tablet, the Surface, in recent years as they look to challenge the iPhone and iPad, as well as Google’s Android platform.
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