What a day! Windows 10 is just around the corner and it’s about to arrive packed with candies.
Without getting too detailed with the list of features, one thing is clear: Microsoft is throwing everything it can into the Windows 10 basket; phones, games, music, videos, cloud storage, office, maps, apps, a new browser, Cortana, start menu, augmented reality, you name it. It’s a war zone, and Windows 10 is the gigantic devastator (transformer) robot assembled by many constructicons in order to be used as a game changer when normal weapons are no longer efficient.
So what can we take away from today’s announcements?
Microsoft is taking the lead with unified platform for all devices.
Today there is no real platform that works across all device types (and forgive me Ubuntu for not counting you in, 3 years are more than enough to wait for a phone version…).
iOS? Not yet for desktops.
ChromeOS? MacOS X? Not for tablets or phones.
The only operating system designed to run naturally on all devices is Windows 10. Microsoft missed the opportunity to make this dream come true few years ago with Windows 8, but better late than never.
What does it mean?
Microsoft knows it cannot win the mobile battle with the current Windows Phone. The apps gap will not be closed as long as the market share remains lower than 5%, and without closing the apps gap the market share will not grow. It’s a vicious circle. A dead end for Windows Phone. This is why Windows 10 doesn’t have a special version for phones. It’s just Windows 10. But it runs on phones. And so will the apps.
You may not have proper Twitter, Instagram, Pocket and Feedly apps for Windows Phone with that funny 3% market share, but you will definitely have those apps for the full Windows 10 release which will potentially scratch the 15%-20% market share still within 2015. This means that those universal apps will also be available on Microsoft’s smartphones without an extra effort.
The big brother is coming, and he is bringing his big guns
Windows 8 suffered from a very slow adoption rate (slower than Vista!) reaching 15% market share in more than 2 years. While this number is still higher than Mac OS, Microsoft cannot afford to wait that long with the next version of Windows.
Windows 10 must become popular fast, and in order for that to happen, Microsoft is willing to give up on many things.
First, the upgrade will be free.
This means windows 8 and Windows 7 owners will be able to get the new OS without extra payment – as long as the hardware is sufficient and as long as (and here comes the catch) they do it within the first year. Did I say already that Microsoft wants some quick wins?
Second, Windows 10 comes pre-packed with a lot of free goodies:
OneDrive, Office, new Outlook, a built-in Xbox app, and more.
For some people this will not be a game changer, but for many others it might be.
Third, there’s the momentum thing. A lot of Technology. Included.
Microsoft is working hard to regain momentum and reclaim its’ legitimate position as the biggest software giant.
The efforts include creating free, cross platform software (such as Office for iOS), embracing competitive platforms such as Android and Linux, turning legacy assets (such as .Net) into open source, and releasing tons of new stuff, from new Office tools, to new experimental, buzz-generating products and apps such as Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health.
Windows 10 continues with this line by incorporating innovative technology such as Cortana, augmented reality (with HoloLens), touch-friendly apps, Xbox app (for gaming) and more.
No doubt, Microsoft’s Windows 10 has the potential to be big. Big for consumers, big for the enterprise, big for the future of Microsoft.
There are, however, 2 risky areas I think worth mentioning:
- How “transparent” will it be for developers to build “universal apps”?
From what I know so far (mainly relevant for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone universal apps) – developers need to invest some extra thinking and effort in order to make their apps “universal”. The effort includes some technical work (such as holding multiple projects with linked source files compiled into different output files), and some design work (as some UI elements do not fit smartphones while other UI patterns do noe utilize the desktops screen real-estate.
- How great will the user experience be when running Windows 10 on phones?
Will it feel natural? Will it feel similar to using Windows 8.1 on tablets? (hint: very bad…). Will it be sexy?
Microsoft took a bold challenge with Windows 10. I seriously hope it will not become a farce.