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January 22, 2015

Microsoft reveal more about Windows 10

Although beta test versions have been available since last year, Microsoft recently unveiled more features that they hope will make Windows 10 their best yet. Skipping Windows 9 altogether to put an extra number between the new operating system and the decidedly unpopular Windows 8, the imminent pre-release of 10 has led to much speculation as to how Microsoft will overhaul their flagship product.

At an announcement event on January 21st, Microsoft displayed a lot of new features that make Windows 10 look pretty impressive. Basics like the return of an expanded Start bar that resembles a cross between the classic Windows feature everyone is used to and the Apple Mac OSX Launchpad were certainly crowd-pleasing. It was the unexpected announcement of a futuristic augmented reality headset called HoloLens that stole most of the headlines though – think Tony Stark’s holographic interface in Iron Man or the screens in Minority Report and you’re in the right sort of area.

Arguably the biggest practical implication, however, is the cross-platform capability. Windows 8 was an attempt to make a system for both a desktop and a tablet, which somehow didn’t quite fulfil the needs of users of either. Windows 10, on the other hand, is already tailored to desktops, tablets and phones – one of the announcements was a version of the interface for devices smaller than eight inches. It looks like the Windows Phone OS, but it isn’t. It’s a full version of Windows 10, with the compatibility with universal apps to match – something the Windows Phone struggled with.

Microsoft have a more unified vision for Windows 10, with increased linking potential between PCs, phones and tablets – notifications and messages will sync across platforms, and OneDrive will allow cloud storage that aggregates data across multiple devices, removing duplicates. The feature that may set them apart, however, is in software – the Office suite, for example, is universal and will run across all platforms instead of having different options for different devices. Running PowerPoint from a phone was one of the big reveals.

With Windows 10, Microsoft have the potential to increase their small share of the mobile market, offering much more potential for connectivity between mobile and desktop devices – provided they don’t get too distracted chasing holograms, of course.