Blending New and Old, Microsoft Unveils Windows 10

Today Microsoft unveiled what it says will be a unifying platform across more devices than ever before: Windows 10.

The new operating system, which won't be available until next year, is designed for desktop and mobile devices that use either a keyboard and mouse or a touch interface. Terry Myerson, head of the company's operating systems group, said it will be a “one application platform” with a single store and “one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices.”

With Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to merge the best part of its touch-focused Windows 8, which alienated some traditional Windows users, with an experience similar to its well-received Windows 7. “Windows 10 will deliver the right experience… at the right time,” he said. The new operating system will have a universal search feature and a revamped Start menu.

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For enterprise customers, Myerson said the new operating system would include all of the tools they’ve come to expect and be compatible with management systems already in place. He also said Windows 10 offered a “novel approach of separating corporate and personal data” across devices -- a pitch aimed at companies worried about the messy entanglement of business and personal information stored on many employees’ computers and smartphones.

In a live demonstration today in San Francisco, the company showed off the new Start Menu with customizable tiles and a universal search feature that also pulls in web results, similar to Spotlight on OS X.

"We're looking to find the balance, so that all the Windows 7 users get a familiar experience on the devices they already have,” said Joe Belifore, corporate vice president of operating systems. "It gives the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the elements of Windows 8.”

Some of the other features Belifore showed off have an emphasis on productivity, including a new “task view” button that shows all apps currently open and gives users options to use multiple desktops, similar to Expose in OS X.

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Other new productivity features let users run different apps in different desktops to keep things organized and the “Snap Assistant” lets users rearrange apps from multiple desktops and snap them into place, just like in Windows 7.

Belifore demonstrated another feature called "Continuum" designed to make the integration of touch and traditional keyboard and mouse interfacing more seamless in two-in-one devices.

Windows 10 will be released sometime in 2015 after Microsoft’s Build Conference in April, but the company is asking for customer feedback through its Windows Insider Program.

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