Computers

Windows 10 kills the Start Screen, runs on wide variety of devices

Windows 10 shrinks Windows 8's Start Screen and moves it to the Start Menu
Windows 10 shrinks Windows 8's Start Screen and moves it to the Start Menu
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Windows 10 shrinks Windows 8's Start Screen and moves it to the Start Menu
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Windows 10 shrinks Windows 8's Start Screen and moves it to the Start Menu
The new version of the OS offers a Task view feature that shows all open program windows
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The new version of the OS offers a Task view feature that shows all open program windows
Apps downloaded from the Windows Store will be able to run in windows
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Apps downloaded from the Windows Store will be able to run in windows

It’s no secret that Windows 8 was not a particularly successful release, as Microsoft struggled to convince both consumers and businesses of the virtues of its split nature. Fast forward to today, and the company has announced its successor, known as Windows 10. The next version of Microsoft’s operating system makes some big changes, perhaps most notably the removal of the much-hated tile UI.

First of all, that’s not a typo – Microsoft has decided to skip a number with the new release. Apparently somebody in Marketing thought "Windows 9" didn't sound like big enough a departure from the maligned Windows 8. But "Windows 10?" Now that's something completely new!

Interestingly, Microsoft has designed Windows 10 to scale from devices with screen sizes as small as four inches – meaning that it isn’t just the next desktop OS, but also the new software for Windows smartphones and Xbox game consoles. As you might expect, the user interface will be different on the phone version of the OS, with no desktop. Past that, we’ll have to wait for further announcements to learn more about the cross-device nature of the new release.

On the desktop OS side of things, the first big change won't surprise anyone who's either used or followed the fortunes of Windows 8.x. The Start screen (initially known as Metro UI) is effectively dead. We say effectively, as the upcoming release won't completely eradicate the tile-based interface from the platform. Instead it shrinks it down to fit inside a reincarnated Start Menu.

The new version of the OS offers a Task view feature that shows all open program windows
The new version of the OS offers a Task view feature that shows all open program windows

Though the tile UI has been shrunk down to fit inside half the Start Menu, you can actually resize the menu if you so desire. There’s a touch mode that pulls it up to fill the screen, adding more tiles and closely resembling the Windows 8.1 Start screen UI. While the majority of users probably won’t make use of that feature, it’s something that Windows tablet and 2-in-1 owners will likely be thankful for.

To coincide with the removal of the full-screen tile UI, Windows Store apps will run in windows, just like standard desktop programs, helping to unify the platform and making the experience of using the OS effectively much more like Windows 7.

If you're an OS X or Linux user, then virtual desktops won't be a new concept (it's essentially exactly what it sounds like – extra, virtual desktop spaces that help you better organise open programs). Microsoft is finally on board with the feature, adding the ability to run apps in different virtual spaces, viewing all open programs at the press of a button – something the company calls Task view.

Apps downloaded from the Windows Store will be able to run in windows
Apps downloaded from the Windows Store will be able to run in windows

Microsoft was also keen to stress the benefits of Windows 10 for enterprise users, highlighting the ability for companies to choose how quickly they adopt new features and customize an app store so that it caters specifically for the needs of its workers.

Microsoft will start distributing the Technical Preview build of Windows 10 for laptops and desktop machines on October 1. The consumer version of the operating system is expected to ship mid-2015.

It’s likely that you still have some pretty significant questions about Windows 10. Given the questions that Microsoft left unanswered today, that’s a reasonable reaction. The company sees this initial announcement of the OS as a step on the road to its eventual release. It intends to listen closely to enterprise customers and preview testers over the coming months, tweaking and improving the experience leading up to release.

Source: Microsoft

24 comments
Kris Lee
Will they continue to support Windows 8 as it seems to me to be quite good for hybrid laptop/tablet devices?
Colin Foss
So they are skipping '9'?
DemonDuck
MSF just gets more out of touch. Bring back XP.
Daishi
They usually get about every other release right. I'm not sure if skipping 9 is a good thing :)
Ralph Oldman
Daishi. Agreed, but they do seem to be dropping the ball more often. Perhaps this is just their way of giving their market away to their competition in the same dumb way that HP stupidly handed over the technology to B. that cemented his monopoly.
Elijah Sherv
YYYYYYYEEEEEEEEESSSSSS!! That's exactly what I missed so dearly about Windows 7. The start menu is what made it great just like every other version of windows. When it was removed I didn't know what to do. I'm glad to see this back in the next windows. Windows 8 had many great aspects but now that Windows 10 has this i'm sure it's going to rock the OS world. Oh, Also where's 9?
Daishi
From what I saw about the new OS they are allowing "metro" style applications to be run windowed in classic mode so in a way its a step forward and another step back. I want nothing to do with metro.
Jan Riedijk
Since I bought Windows 8 I met real problems. I also had to activate it before I actually could use it. This version of Windows is so very user unfriendly. I ever started with Windows 3.11 and used all versions. I could not return this Windows 8-software only because it was already activated. I took me a lot of time to get it working (a little bit) and I decided to never buy software like this again. Microsoft doesn't understand it's customers. Next time I'll get familiar with Ubuntu (Linux). Then I do not have to pay for rubbish.
Soundman_Zurich
Windows 8 End of mainstream support on January 9, 2018 End of extended support on January 10, 2023
Mel Tisdale
And so it is that the business world faces yet another loss of productivity while its staff learn a new operating system. If a company buys a fleet of new cars, it is almost certain that those to whom they are allocated will be able to jump in and drive off after the briefest of time spent orientating themselves regarding the controls. Wouldn't it be nice if Microsoft provided as standard emulation of previous operating systems hot switchable on demand? That way, if an employee has some urgent work to do, they can complete it as per normal and then switch back to the new version when they have time to get up to speed. Also, Mr Microsoft, how about having a choice regarding such features as libraries and the like? I doubt that I am alone in wanting the way XP operated and was fed up when 7 appeared. I had no idea where the originals of my files really were. Choosing to disable libraries would have really been nice and saved a lot of swearing. I am a big grown up and can fasten my own shoelaces. I don't need Mother Microsoft to make me do things on a 'mummy knows best' basis, especially when I really don't want to do things their way (And that goes for Office in all of its components and their iterations, too.)