The much-anticipated release of the Windows 10 operating system is happening this week. It is part of the Windows NT family of operating systems. Many users of Windows 7 and various iterations of Windows 8 are being offered a free upgrade. At first it will released for PCs only, but it is assumed that it will be available cross-platform sooner rather than later, to include phones, tablets, the Xbox, etc. Windows 10 will allow various devices and products to share what Microsoft describes as a “universal” application architecture. The goal for Microsoft is to have the Windows 10 user interface and features spread throughout the broad Microsoft and Windows Store ecosystem, making it easier for users to seamlessly jump between platforms as a particular task requires.
In order to make Windows 10 work smoothly across platforms, Microsoft has introduced a new feature called Continuum. Continuum detects how and with what device you’re interacting with the Windows 10 device, and changes the interface depending on what device you’re using. For example, when using a desktop PC you’ll see the standard desktop but if you unplug the keyboard tablet mode will kick in, complete with on-screen back buttons.
Another interesting offering is Universal apps, which will be capable of running on all devices. Office apps will be offered right away, and they are essentially device-size optimized to allow a similar experience across phone, tablet and PC. New versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and Outlook feature this universal design and function principle. Among others, Videos, Music, People & Messaging and Mail & Calendar will be built into Windows 10 and can be used across devices. Data will be stored and synced in OneDrive, so users can pick up any Windows 10 device and continue where they left off. Most apps that work on Windows 7 will work on 10, but some older apps that were written for XP might not work.
Windows apps will be distributed through a unified Windows Store, with the apps specifically made to share code and run and synchronize data across multiple platforms and compatible Windows 10 devices. Another entirely new feature of Windows 10 is the way it will be serviced as compared to previous releases. With Windows 8 Microsoft got bogged down adding new features to updates in addition to patches and fixes. Windows 10 will be serviced using a tiered approach with users receive critical updates, security patches and non-critical updates to the operating system and its functionality as they are released. This will make the concept of “versions” of Windows obsolete.
Microsoft will provide Windows 10 upgrades automatically, and users will receive new features at no charge for the supported lifetime of the device it is installed on. The Home and Pro editions will automatically receive all non-critical updates as they are released without the possibility of declining them, in addition to automatic driver updates. The Pro version will be able to defer updates for a limited time, but not ignore them completely.