Windows, long a necessary component of the daily grind, is restyling itself as an integral part of our personal lives with the launch of Windows 10 later this year. For the time being, the technical preview is available to test as part of the Windows Insider Program.
In the buzz surrounding Windows 10, it is possible to detect a sense of nostalgia for the multi-million marketing campaigns of Windows 95 and 98, which included a commercial featuring the Rolling Stones’ hit song Start Me Up (a reference to the unveiling of the infamous ‘Start’ button), and a promotional video starring Jennifer Aniston and Matthew Perry of well-loved sitcom Friends. Those were heady days before the mixed responses to Windows Vista and Windows 8; Microsoft may still have work to do if it hopes to see consumers queuing outside the doors at midnight.
However, the launch coincides with the upcoming debut of the new 84inch Microsoft Surface Hub and the Windows Holographic, which will allow users to create 3D holographic images via a custom built HoloLens. The Surface Hub is most expected to shine in video conferences and during whiteboard- style brainstorming.
At the consumer preview on the 21st January, it was revealed that Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year. Windows-as-a-Service will allow developers to work across all Windows devices, as well as improving security. When the keyboard is removed from a hybrid device, the user will be asked whether they want to enter tablet mode, after which apps switch to full screen.
CEO Satya Nadella had a powerful message to convey at the preview: “We want to make Windows 10 the most loved version of Windows.” Rather than using Windows because they need to, Nadella envisages that users will instead be actively “choosing Windows and loving Windows”, whether in the office or at home.
Microsoft’s “personal assistant” Cortana is also coming to Windows PC, and will be accessible via a search panel in the task bar. Cortana has the ability to learn about the user, who can edit this information with Cortana Notebook. The choice of name is an interesting move on the part of Microsoft, as it is a direct reference to a fictional artificially intelligent woman from the Halo video games – the voice will even be recorded by the same actress, Jen Taylor, in a clear attempt to appeal to the Halo-playing generation and to reconnect with popular culture. Cortana also represents competition with Google Now and Apple’s intelligent assistant Siri, which also uses a natural language user interface.
According to Polygon, Windows 10 is a long overdue “love letter to Windows users. A love letter to programmers. A love letter to technophiles and the mobile phone market. And most importantly, a love letter to gamers.” It is yet to be revealed whether or not this sentiment will be reciprocated by the consumers of this new and “romantic” operating system, but nonetheless, innovation at Microsoft continues to gain renewed momentum.