Microsoft’s Jan. 21 Windows 10 presentation revealed all sorts of new information about the next version of Windows, reportedly shipping this fall. Two days later, build 9926 arrived.
Here’s an overview of what you can see in the current Win10 Tech Preview — plus what’s likely to dribble out over the summer.
If you haven’t been following Windows 10’s progress or need a refresher, I recommend reading the Oct. 2, 2014, Top Story, “Microsoft unveils preview of a new Windows,” and the Oct. 23, 2014, Windows 10 article, “Windows 10 Tech Preview now at build 9860” (paid content).
Winning back Windows users’ hearts and minds
If you missed Microsoft’s two-and-a-half-hour dog-and-pony show, there’s an excellent 12-minute YouTube recap, put together by blogger Bavo Luysterborg (better known as Bav0).
The Windows 8 debacle’s impact on Microsoft is abundantly clear in the presentation. CEO Satya Nadella stated that the grand goal of Windows 10 was to make PC users not just want to use Windows, but to love using the OS. Lofty statements are expected at press conferences, but the announcement that really caught everyone’s attention was the use of Windows 10 and “free” in the same sentence. Operating Systems VP Terry Myerson declared “we will be making available a free upgrade to Windows 10 to all devices running [Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1].”
Most surprising, however, was the statement that all Windows 7 users will get a free upgrade for a year after Win10’s release — and once they’ve upgraded, all future changes to Windows 10 will be free. There is, of course, some ambiguity I’ll discuss at the end of this article. (Has Microsoft taken another lesson from Apple, or it is a sort of unspoken apology to those who bought Windows 8?)
Taking in the new user interface
If you’ve followed Win10’s development at all, you already know that the next Windows incorporates a variant of the Windows 7 Start menu — so desperately missed in Windows 8. Figure 1 shows a new Start menu that combines Win7’s quick-access list with Win8’s tiles.