Microsoft Windows is so uncool these days that some people are embarrassed to admit they're not using a MacBook - cripes some people go ahead and buy an Apple computer then, you know, install Windows on the sly hoping no one will notice.
But hey, the facts are that Apple still has only 6 percent of the global PC market and that Windows is used by 1.5 billion people. So even though it's very unhip, Windows still matters. Especially to businesses that have hundreds, or thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of PCs installed for their employees. Windows still matters.
The big news this week is that Microsoft is releasing a beta test version of it's latest Windows called Windows 10. Microsoft is skipping straight from the complete disaster called Windows 8/8.1 to Windows 10. Why are they doing this, well the joke goes Windows 7 ate 9. Get it? Anyway.... what's the deal with 10 and what can we expect?
1. One platform - Something called "Universal apps" can now run on Windows Phone, Tablets, laptops, workstations and giant wall sized screens. One code base, one set of APIs and so apps will be able to run anywhere. Meaning the several hundred thousand Windows Phone apps including games will be able run on your laptop full screen or in a window. Cool? I think so too.
2. Start Menu: Back by popular demand is the Start button and Start Menu. Long a fixture in Windows since Windows 95, the Start menu was eliminated in Windows 8 causing a firestorm of complaints and ridicule. The new start menu is cooler, sleeker and better than the WIndows 7 version, and this feature alone will allow businesses to embrace Windows 10.
3. Multi-tasking: Designed for the serious professional productivity worker Windows 10 now supports multiple active desktops, a single button called Task View, and enhanced snap / tiling support. Simply... it's be easier than ever before to keep many programs active on the desktop and to keep track of where everything is. Serious work demands serious tools and Windows 10 has them in spades.
4. Search: A major improvement in desktop search this feature will help you find that lost program or file. Windows has long had search, but this is (finally) a major step forward in usability and productivity.
5. Feedback: Perhaps the most important feature is the way Microsoft is finishing this version of Windows. This beta software includes a feedback mechanism for all testers to tell Microsoft what they like and what they don't. Never before has a major tech company been this open and collaborative when building it's flagship product. Yes, others do it - but not to the same extent.
I have to say after the Windows 8 fiasco I'd about given up on Microsoft. They had clearly been spooked by Apple and touch first operating systems and their response was sadly all wrong. But this time around, this could well be the best Windows since wildly successful Windows XP. I'm excited for Microsoft, its customers and for Windows 10.
This time I think they got it right.