It’s safe to say that Microsoft’s attempt to integrate more touch-centric features in with its traditional desktop operating system didn’t go as well as Microsoft had hoped. Windows 8 proved to be a hugely polarizing operating system as many longtime Windows users decried the loss of the Start Menu and the jarring split between the platform’s Desktop mode and its Modern/Metro screen.
Microsoft is clearly hoping to turn the page with the launch of Windows 10, the new platform that the company unveiled on Tuesday.
Most observers were expecting Microsoft to name its new platform Windows 9, which would make sense since the last major release was Windows 8. However, for some reason, Microsoft decided to skip the number 9 completely in favor of 10, which seems to suggest the new platform will be the equivalent of two steps above the previous installation. In fact, Microsoft even said during its presentation that going from Windows 7 to Windows 10 was like going from a first-generation Prius to a Tesla.
As we’ve seen in previous leaks, the new Start menu will be a more “modernized” version of the traditional Start menu that also features icons that are similar to the ones found in the Modern UI. As Microsoft described it, the new Start menu “gives the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the elements of Windows 8.”
Another key feature is the addition of Universal Windows apps that addresses problems that many Windows 8 users have experienced with Modern UI apps not working well when run from the desktop. The company said that it wanted to make apps work the same way no matter where you run them and thus eliminate the “duality” of Modern and Desktop UIs.
“We don’t want that duality, we want users on PCs with mice and keyboards to have a familiar view,” explained Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore.
Microsoft also unveiled a new feature called Continuum that it says won’t be in the developer build when it releases. Once the feature comes out, though, it will automatically adjust Windows for 2-in-1 tablet-computer hybrids so that it can automatically detect whether there’s a keyboard and mouse hooked up to the device and offer the more desktop-friendly version of the UI. Conversely, Windows 10 also features a “tablet mode” that will automatically pop up whenever you touch the screen.
Microsoft says the technical preview of Windows 10 for PCs will come out on Wednesday and will be available at Preview.Windows.com. Microsoft said that Windows 10 will likely ship at some point in mid-2015.