Microsoft skipped a number … and took its first steps to streamline the entire Windows operating system.
Microsoft was widely expected to announce Windows 9 today, the successor to its much-maligned Windows 8 operating system that introduced the “Modern” (formerly Metro) user experience dominated by a Start Screen instead of a Start Button of previous versions of Windows. Windows 8 (and later Windows 8.1) features a dual “Classic/Modern” interface that was both contrived and confusing. Microsoft only updates its Windows operating system about once every three years, so 2015 was widely expected to be time for Windows 9 that was expected to answer some of Redmond’s perplexing user experience questions.
But Microsoft opted to skip past Windows 9 and has announced Windows 10, coming to the public mid-year 2015.
Windows 10 for PCs and laptops skips the dual-persona noise of Windows 8, focusing on bringing enterprise-grade tools and experience. It combines the user experience of Windows 7 for keyboard and mouse users with elements of the Modern user interface for Windows 8. Microsoft promises that all of the user interface of Windows 7 apps that businesses have come to know will be able to work in Windows 10. At the same time, Modern apps will still be supported in Windows 10.
It is a bit of a reversal for Microsoft. In Windows 8, the default mode has been the Modern touch mode with the desktop hidden and Classic apps hidden in the background. For PCs and laptops, Classic style will now be the default, with Modern UI support tacked to the backend.
The Start Screen has been eschewed on Windows 10 for PCs, replaced by a new and improved Start Button that brings elements of both the classic and Modern Windows user interface. Essentially, the new Start Button looks like the button from Windows 7 with a flat “hubs and tiles” Modern interface tacked on to the side.
Microsoft is not completely ditching its touchscreen users on two-in-one tablet/laptops though, bringing a new Start Screen to touch users. It is the inverse of the new Start Button in Windows 10, with the Start Screen coupled with elements of the button tacked to the left side of the screen.