Hello, Windows 10!

I’ve been using Windows 8 and 8.1 for software development at work for over two years, and use a mix of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 computers at home. When I saw that Microsoft had just announced Windows 10, I joined the Windows Insider program and downloaded and installed the newly released Windows 10 tech preview this weekend.

My first impressions of using Windows 10 is that it’s so familiar to Windows 7, and yet it has all the promise of Windows 8.1. The Start menu has now returned in a familiar but more functional way, which now pops up as it does in Windows 7 but with the added value of the metro live tiles of Windows 8.1. Then there’s the automatic laptop-to-tablet convertible interface that Microsoft has demonstrated.

The Windows 10 Start menu

What I find more important than the visual changes is what I perceive as the ability for Windows 10 to adapt its user experience to the environment in which it’s deployed.

I noted that the launch picture showcased Windows 10 on the familiar form factors that we associate with Windows today – phones, tablets, laptops, All In One’s… but there’s even larger screens in the showcase, one paired with the Kinect controller.

Microsoft’s Windows 10 showcase.

Which got me thinking, are TV’s the

next frontier for Windows?

This is something really, really exciting, and something I would want as a software engineer and a technology consumer. At home, I use a Sony ‘smart’ TV, I say ‘smart’ because its the dumbest unintuitive interface I have ever had the misfortune of using.

On paper, the Sony TV sounds like a computer – wired LAN port and wireless connectivity, bluetooth, browser, ships with Skype, YouTube and Netflix, it can download apps from the Opera app store, hard drive recording, USB webcam for video chats… the works, and it seems to have the processing power to support all these operations, but even Windows 3.11 that got me started on computers in 1994 was far superior to the clunky PlayStation-based OS Sony installed on this 2014 TV.

With Windows 10 I see Microsoft making a play

for dominance of the living room.

The living room TV is already trying to be the new PC. We see this trend with LG announcing WebOS based TV’s and it will happen to many of the networked home devices we have today. Windows 10 and Kinect on a TV will mean the end of the TV remote as we know it – just wave your hand to flick through channels or tell Cortana to record a program for you.

Hence, when Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella says they’re building Windows 10 for the Internet Of Things, it gives a fantastic insight into the next wave of computing that will change our lives – the Windows interface on your laptop, tablet, phone, TV, all seamlessly in sync via the cloud.

This prospect is even more exiting for software professionals. The Windows platform has one of the largest developer communities on the planet and far superior development tools that no other platform can match. Microsoft is insisting software houses writing Windows apps should plan on architecting them as “Univeral Windows Apps”, but they haven’t been clear why that’s so important, and as a result very few want to take the trouble to do so. After all, WPF & MVVM work fantastically well today for Windows apps from Windows 7 onwards, so why migrate to a Universal app that is presently only supported on Windows 8.1? There’s also no clear indication that a Universal app will be able to run on Android or iOS.

This lack of clarity is not going to help

Microsoft’s App Store.

I would like to see more clarity from Microsoft in the coming months informing their developer audience what are the capabilities of these new form factors, their shipping timelines, and if they plan to tie-up with TV manufacturers to include Windows 10 in 2015 TV’s.

Lionel

Image credits: All images used in this article are © Microsoft obtained from The Announcing Windows 10 blog post.

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