With Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) having announced the new Windows 10 operating system in the last 24 hours, attention of its potential customer base will now turn to what the software giant purports to offer in this updated Windows. Particularly critical to Microsoft with this release will be getting the business community back on its side, as Windows 8 was singularly unsuccessful in attracting commercial customers. As ValueWalk reported when this story broke, Windows 8 is still very much under-utilized by businesses in comparison to its predecessors Windows 7 and even the now largely obsolete Windows XP.
Windows 10 a break with the past
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Given that Microsoft has completely skipped Windows 9 as a name, the suggestion is that Windows 10 is a complete break with the past. One could understand why Microsoft would wish to particularly distance itself from Windows 8; certainly the least successful Windows release within the last 10 years, and arguably the worst of all time (although some people would afford this is dubious honour to Millennium Edition).
With this in mind, Microsoft has completely focused on the business community with the information it has released about Windows thus far. In fact, the benefits for the everyday consumer haven’t even really been mentioned at all, and we probably won’t find out more about what Microsoft intends to offer the average man and woman in the street until next year.
So what is Microsoft offering business customers of Windows 10? Cynics would argue that the first thing is simply the opportunity not to use Windows 8! In line with this assumption, Microsoft has promised that Windows 10 will be considerably more intuitive than its predecessor. This is particularly essential for the business community for a variety of reasons.
Naturally, corporate clients want to be able to install an operating system as easily as possible, and have it pay off for their everyday operations. But also we often forget that large parts of even the contemporary workforce are still not particularly IT literate, and in this respect some of the decision-making related to Windows 8 can be described as little more than disastrous. Windows 10 will apparently redress this balance.
Additionally, Microsoft promised that Windows 10 will be compatible with “all traditional management systems in use today.” This is particularly important as businesses are increasingly accepting and even encouraging the usage of mobile devices by staff at work. Technologies such as Bring Your Own Device enable employees to tap into company networks via their own technology, and it is evident that Windows 10 needs to be friendly towards such an approach.
Microsoft has also assured developers that there will be a singular, unified development platform for Windows 10. Joe Belfiore, the Corporate Vice President at the Operating Systems Group for Microsoft, has promised Windows 10 developers that the operating system will provide a singular platform for writing “a universal application that targets the entire product family.” With Apple placing such a premium on attracting developers to its platforms, it is clear that this will be a key area for Microsoft going forward.
Windows 10 to stay touch-enabled
Although Microsoft is making an explicit effort to ensure that Windows 10 distances itself from the approach of Windows 8, it has not abandoned all the functionality associated with this earlier operating system. Belfiore has made it clear that Windows 10 will be touch-enabled, and that some of the features introduced in Windows 8 would remain part of this new release.
A new feature also included in Windows 10 has been dubbed ‘Continuum’. This particular functionality is intended to benefit users utilizing two-in-one PCs. Effectively this is an intelligent system which insures that the Windows 10 user interface adapts in real-time to the device that you’re using.
Continuum is part of the emphasis that Microsoft is placing on multi-device compatibility with Windows 10. This was very much part of the Windows 8 modus operandi, but Microsoft is attempting to make this latest release multi-platform compatible while also improving its user-friendliness for average desktop users in particular. Effectively this is an attempt to ensure that traditional users of Windows do not feel alienated by this new product, while also maintaining a modern feel and maximizing its market potential.
Thus, we can expect Windows 10 to work with every conceivable device under the sun, even wearable technology and Internet of Things devices.
But will Microsoft be successful in luring users back to Windows 10? The answer to this question will be very much predicated on to what extent the operating system manages to deliver on its promise of a simplified user interface. There is no doubt that the failure of Windows 8 to deliver this has left something of a bitter taste among both corporate and private clients, and winning them back won’t necessarily be easy.
However, where Microsoft has always excelled with business users is in delivering an affordable platform. It is therefore possible, and perhaps even likely, that Windows 8 adopters will be provided with a free update to Windows 10. Microsoft would then doubtless be looking for a very strong word-of-mouth reaction from the ‘free’ customers to gain momentum for this critical software release.
Staying ahead of Apple in business
Windows has always had an advantage over Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) in this respect, particularly for the business community where large amounts of software needs to be purchased. Simply by offering a platform for work which is cheaper than any other, PCs and Windows have become the standard in offices all over the world, and it is difficult to see this changing radically. Despite the lack of success of Windows 8, and the fact that other operating systems have eaten into Microsoft’s market share, Windows is still installed in around 90 percent of the worlds PCs. Although this figure may decline slightly, the trend is nevertheless set to continue for the foreseeable future.
There is no word on pricing from Microsoft, but in the contemporary computing landscape it is quite possible that they software giant will have to instigate a flexible pricing model. Creating goodwill with consumers will be essential to the success of Windows 10 when it is released, which is mooted by sources to be around late summer / fall 2015.