Can Microsoft Turn Windows 10 Up To 11?
Microsoft was once the ‘it’ IT company, but nowadays that mantle has long ago passed to both Apple and Google.
The fall from top dog status despite still having 1.5 billion Windows users has grown so stark that Microsoft has been forced to share its plans on Windows more openly and earlier than ever in at attempt to really LISTEN to its users and give them what they want.
Only Apple, as Tim Cook is so fond of saying, can afford to give its users what Apple thinks they want, and that’s because of a maniacally meticulous attention to detail that makes everyone else’s attempts at delivering mature, polished products look like rough drafts.
A rough draft is what we’re seeing with the new Windows 10 Technical Preview, available to download free of charge here, but be warned: it’s not yet meant for everyday use in production environments and should only be installed on a spare computer or as a virtual machine.
Yesterday I downloaded both the 32 and 64-bit versions of the new technical preview, and installed Windows 10 onto my Mac using the Parallels Desktop virtualisation software.
As my Mac has a 512GB SSD, installation was super fast, and looked for all the world like a Windows 8 or 8.1 installation.
It’s when we finally got to the desktop that we could see things had changed a little.
Yes, the Start Button was there and it brings up a new version of the Start Menu, complete with the ‘Metro’-style tiles that Windows 8.x and Windows Phone users are familiar with.
The Start Menu can be stretched upwards or downwards, and new tiles can be added easily, whether they be the Metro interactive tiles or simply tiles with shortcuts to Windows desktop apps, which is good to see.
Sadly, Microsoft has not placed the “Control Panel” icon on the Start Menu and has put the PC Settings icon instead, which is the Metro-style version of the Control Panel.
I think Microsoft should think carefully about this. People like and want the Windows 7 style start menu, which is what the free Classic Shell and the paid Start8 menu replacements (among others) replicate.
Microsoft has definitely done the right thing by putting the Start Menu back, but why not simply make it look like the Start Menu so many already know and live – and bang the Metro Tiles on the right side of that?
Of course, Microsoft has much tweaking in Windows 10 still to do and be done, and it could change in any number of ways before we get to the final version, so we will see what happens, but Microsoft needs to make things as effortless and easy as possible, and ‘hiding’ the Control Panel icon is not a good start.
I was able to find the URL shortcut, as such, to the Control Panel and was then able to right click on the screen to create a new shortcut on the desktop. This shortcut then gave itself the Control Panel icon we expect. I was then able to add this shortcut to the Start Menu manually – but why in heaven’s name should -I- or anyone else have to do this? It should simply be there.
If Microsoft doesn’t deliver this it will end up STILL forcing the “duality” it says it is trying to eliminate with Windows 10, and that’s not good enough.
I also challenge the everyday user to replicate what I had done, it sounds super simple and it is but unless you know what you are doing, you won’t know how to find the URL address for the Control Panel to do the same thing.
What I did like about Windows 10 was the new search icon next to the Start Menu button as well as the much reported new “Snap Assist” feature that makes it more effortless to snap two program windows side by side.
Once you have snapped one window to either the left or right hand side of the screen, you are then shown which other windows you have open on this particular desktop. Click on one of those and bam – two windows are snapped side by side.
You can also snap one of those two windows into the top or bottom corner, so you can have three – or then even four windows snapped together, all with the same “Snap Assist”-ability.
Another feature is being able to have multiple desktops – at long last – along with Alt-Tab improvements that let you easily see which windows you have open across ALL of your desktops.
These kinds of commonsense improvements make me cringe at the memory of Windows Vista’s carousel of open Windows. It looked really cool but was effectively so useless that Microsoft dumped it in Windows 7 and we’ve never seen that carousel again.
You also get the ability to re-size formerly full-screen Metro tablet apps into windows on your desktop. It’s such a commonsense thing you wonder how Microsoft ever thought otherwise, but at least sanity has prevailed and has been restored at last.
For now, that’s really it. Cool features to allow much better switchability between touch tablet mode and desktop mode when using a 2-in-1 device were only demo’d and aren’t yet available.
Cortana, the Siri-like AI from Microsoft’s Windows Phone isn’t yet switched on in the beta.
All of that said, the new technical preview is a great start for Microsoft’s next Windows OS and we should see a steady stream of new features, improvements and capabilities over the coming months, with Microsoft placing a Feedback Tool to help itself gather as much customer feedback as possible to truly “give the people what they want”.
Finally, why doesn’t Microsoft at least think about letting people use a Windows XP skin if they want to.
Microsoft owns all the copyrights and it’s just a skin. Nothing less, nothing more. If people like that look – and hundreds of millions do – make it an option, Microsoft!
It’s not rocket science and even though Microsoft wants people to love the new “flat” look, and knows they’ll get used to it, Microsoft expected people to just get used to Windows 8 as well, and look how that turned out.
I have friends who are welded to Windows XP and are glad that I’ve been able to extend the life of those Windows XP computers by making Microsoft’s Windows Update servers think XP is actually Windows POSReady 2009, a version of Windows designed for point-of-sale systems.
People love love love -love- the Windows XP interface because they’re used to it.
Microsoft used to be all about backwards compatibility, but has never truly managed this for its operating system interfaces.
A UI skin is a skin. If Microsoft does this it might end up Windows 10’s most loved feature, while at the same time delivering all the cool new features that Windows 10 offers.
Is Microsoft bold and brave enough to do this? We will have to wait and see.
But thankfully, the Steve Sinofsky era of shock and awe and forced mega-change is over, even though his fingerprints with the Metro interface – or at least the good bits – live on and are a vitally important part of the Windows ecosystem.
I’m really looking forward to seeing what the final version of Windows 10 looks like and am glad to see that Microsoft is back on the path to LISTENING TO USERS and giving them what they want, rather than trying to force perceived goodness down people’s throats in a way that Only Apple can (and Only Apple can succeed at doing as history shows).
Windows 10 ain’t heaven yet, but the era of Windows 8 hell is almost over.
All Microsoft has to do now is to make Windows 10 a FREE upgrade for ALL its existing users.
We’ve yet to see if Microsoft’s got the gumption to do this, but in a world where Apple sells more Macs than any of its individual PC competitors and more tablets than anyone else. drastic measures are called for if Microsoft wishes to maintain its dominance over the long term.
It will be a series of macro hard decisions for Microsoft to make, but with the effective future of the company and its power at stake, its management is surely wide awake to the potential futures at play and will ultimately do everything to keep having a major say in the world of IT as Microsoft sees it.
If Microsoft can achieve all this, it really will have turned Windows 10 up to 11.
Here’s the video of the Windows 10 launch event: