During the much ballyhooed, invite-only presser in San Francisco today, Microsoft announced its next flagship operating system, dubbing it Windows 10. No, you're not reading that wrong. Windows has seemingly skipped a version.
Terry Myerson, VP of Microsoft's Operating System division, was given the honors of announcing the name, but it was Joe Belfiore that provided the first public demo of Windows 10. Windows 10 will be what we've all expected based on rumors and leaked screenshots. So there's not much new to report from a feature perspective. The demo seemed strinkingly familiar—almost as if we'd seen it all before. And we probably have, since Microsoft is returning features most of us have been used to using since Windows 95. But, more than the reemergence of the Start Menu and Windowed Metro apps, Windows 10 is designed to be an application platform, running on the broadest types of devices ever. Windows 10 will adapt to the user, the device, and the user experience.
From the Enterprise perspective, Windows 10 will be managed as any other Windows-based device. Microsoft will push MDM (or EMM as the System Center folks at Microsoft suggest) as the primary management system for all devices (PCs, laptops, and IoT) with Windows 10. So, in this case, it is hugely monumental that Joe Belfiore, the VP of Windows Phone, was given the responsibility to deliver the first public Windows 10 demo, showing Microsoft's intent to merge desktop with mobile.
One customer, in frustration, said offline "Let’s talk ABOUT enterprise folks but not TO enterprise folks." And that pretty much says it all. The event was not streamed so all could listen in. No, it was delivered only to a select number of press in a small room. So, in truth, Microsoft talked about the possible Enterprise features, but failed to deliver the message directly to the Enterprise.
But Microsoft did highlight some primary focus points around improved—or enhanced—features for businesses. Some pieces with Enterprise focus (so far) planned for Windows 10:
- Familiar (bringing back the Windows 7 type interface)
- Compatible (will work with today's systems and some legacy software)
- Productive (intended to interact and adapt with the user experience as well as the business needs)
- Modern Management (again, MDM to manage everything)
- Customized Store (as an app platform, Windows 10 will also make the business store experience better)
- Corporate Data Protection (separating and protecting corporate data against personal data will be built into Windows 10—of course, with backend Windows/Azure requirements)
On October 1 (tomorrow), Microsoft will kick off its new Windows Insider Program and make the Windows 10 Technical Preview available for installing and testing. As an Insider, you'll have access to special forums to discuss Windows 10 with other insiders and the Windows 10 engineering team.
The new TechNet Evaluation Center will be updated (http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/evaluate-windows-technical-preview-for-enterprise) with links to the bits, but you'll need to sign-up to participate. The sign-up page will be http://preview.windows.com/, but it's not quite ready yet. It's currently still housing the old Windows 8.1 preview content. Expect the page to change in the next few hours.
This technical preview is just that: a technical preview. It's intended for folks who don't mind errors, or things that don’t work. A consumer preview will rollout sometime early next year with the hope that the Windows 10 code will be a bit more solid by then, and more information about the next phase of Universal apps will be discussed at BUILD in April (meaning no official Windows 10 launch until much later in 2015).
Pricing for Windows 10 was not discussed. It's been rumored that Windows 10 might be a free (zero dollars) upgrade for some users, but apparently, that is still not decided.
We'll have more on Windows 10 soon (in both news and commentaries) as new things come to light.
In the interim, you should make sure to watch our own Paul Thurrott and his sidekick, Mary Jo Foley, on a special, Windows 10 edition of Windows Weekly coming up shortly. (http://twit.tv/ww and http://twit.tv/#playstream)