Let’s flash back to 2012. About three years ago, Windows 8, the last major release of Microsoft’s ubiquitous operating system, was released to manufacturers. This was to be Microsoft’s most ambitious release yet. Traditional PC sales were in decline, and more personal devices such as the iPad tablet were poised to end the dominant PC platform. Microsoft’s response to this was to change Windows more than in any previous release, in a bid to make it usable with the tablet form factor. Windows 8 launched in October 2012 to much fanfare.

Windows 8 Start Screen

There was much fanfare, but little in the way of sales. Yes, Microsoft did sell many copies of Windows 8, but it did not help the declining PC market rebound. Windows 8 came to be with a touch first interface, with a new Start Screen replacing the traditional Start Menu, and a new breed of Windows 8 apps, which run on the WinRT framework. These WinRT apps have been named many things over the past three years, starting with Metro apps. A trademark dispute ended that naming scheme though, and over time they have morphed from full screen apps to universal apps to Windows Store apps, and practically none of them were able to rival the older Win32 platform in popularity or productivity.

Windows 8 did bring some great features to Windows, but they were overshadowed by the major design shift which, while good as a touch based operating system, alienated many who still used Windows on a traditional desktop or notebook. The Start Screen was a big turn off to many people, and full screen apps were not very efficient on a large screen display. Even the multitasking in Windows 8 was less than ideal, with the initial release only allowing two Windows Store apps to be open at any one time, and the second was relegated to a small side bar.

Microsoft’s own faith in Windows 8 was clearly not strong. Only a couple of weeks after Windows 8 launched, they unceremoniously dumped the project head Steven Sinofsky from the company, and spent the next two years trying to make Windows 8 more usable on traditional mouse and keyboard type machines, which were the vast majority of Windows devices in the hands of users. Windows 8.1 arrived and fixed some of the key issues with Windows 8, and 8.1 Update launched with the ability to boot to the desktop, and avoid the touch interface almost completely if you wanted to.

Windows 10 Start Menu and Desktop view

When looking at Windows 10, I think it is pretty important to look back over the last three years, because none of this is ever built or designed in a vacuum. Microsoft has a huge number of devices running Windows, but a large majority of them are running Windows 7, which was an evolutionary desktop upgrade. Windows 8 struggled to ever take over any of that usage share. Windows 10 is Microsoft’s attempt to bridge the divide. Windows 7 is used by hundreds of millions of people, but its touch support is practically zero. Windows 8 works well in a touch scenario, but is not ideal for keyboard and mouse based devices. Windows 10 promises to be the version of Windows which bridges this gap.

Windows 10 brings about as much change as Windows 8 did, but in almost all cases it is going to be appreciated by users rather than avoided. It will run on a dizzying number of device types, including the traditional desktop, notebook, tablet, two-in-one, phone, IoT, Raspberry Pi, Hololens, Surface Hub, and even Xbox One. What it will bring to each of those device types is not the single interface that Windows 8 pushed on the desktop, but a unified app platform. Each device type will have its own interface, but the underlying app platform will allow developers to target a huge number of devices. And developer buy-in is the one thing Microsoft needs more than any other in order to make this vision succeed. For all of Windows 8’s quirks, it was really the lack of quality apps in the Windows Store which was the one hurdle Microsoft could not code around. Only time will tell whether or not the new model succeeds where the old one failed, but at the beginning of the life of Windows 10 we can go through all aspects of it and see what’s new, what’s changed, and how it fits in on today’s devices.

Return of the Desktop and Start Menu
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  • inighthawki - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Lol this image is so full of crap. Not only can you turn most of it off permanently (And yes, you can disable WU and WD from the services list and it will not start back up) but this image is so misleading. They even photoshopped an ad in the start menu on a setting that doesn't even exist in the RTM build... Come on, that's low. Mos tof the other things such as "tracking keystrokes and browsing history" for wbe browsing exist in Windows 7 and 8. Wi-Fi sense has been known to be blown way out of proportion. Telemtry has also been proven to only provide non-personal information. It collects stuff such as hardware configurations, statistical information like how often you click the start button, and machine crashes. Does this seriously worry you that Microsoft knows that "someone in the world" owns a MacBook pro and clicked the start button 8 times today?

    You're really just buying into a bunch of fearmongering by a bunch of people who just wanted excuses to continue using Windows 7. If you don't like Windows 10 or don't want to use it, that's fine, but don't cite these ultra poor excuses as the reasons why, as it shows you didn't actually look much further than the surface, and just jumped on the bandwagon.
  • Notmyusualid - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Thank you for your (what I believe is an incorrect opinion), but I HAVE EVERYTHING TURNED OFF, and my firewall logs STILL show encrypted packets going out to Microsoft - EVERYTIME I hit a key, and everytime I open a program.

    So even if somebody starts with a Microsoft Account, their data would be synced to MS, before many would realise what had happened.

    There is absoultely nothing you can say that would make me believe that MS deserves access to my contacts. Those are private.

    And no, I did not jump on any bandwagon, I did my own testing, came to similar conslusion as the picture stated, and yes, I will be continuing to use Win 7, as I do not like it.

    Only Enterprise Editions can disable all modes of telemetry...
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Oh OK, so you saw encrypted packets going out... So I guess you decrypted them and looked at the content, then? Sending information when certain types of hardware interrupts occur does not mean they are sending personal information or recording your keystrokes like a keylogger. You have no way of knowing what's in the packets, yet you make assumptions that it's a privacy issue. Yet another example of someone pretending they're fully informed because they open up Wireshark and see some packets being sent over the network and "came to a conclusion" about what was really happening.
  • minijedimaster - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Are you paid to have some shill answer for everything windows 10? "Oh well, so you proved me wrong with your firewall packet captures, but do you REALLY know what it's sending???"

    LOL, yeah ok... go be a paid shill somewhere else.
  • inighthawki - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    Sorry if I'm not irrational/paranoid and don't jump to conclusions based on evidence that doesn't actually show any of the claims you're making.

    Oh no, a network packet! My entire life must now belong to Microsoft's hands!
  • SlyNine - Tuesday, August 25, 2015 - link

    I have to disagree. Your computer sending encrypted packets to Microsoft, even tho you supposedly disabled that stuff, is a HUGE red flag. At that point its up to Microsoft to convince me that they are NOT sending personal information (it shouldn't be sending any). I might have to pass on windows 10 until this gets clarification.
  • imaheadcase - Wednesday, August 26, 2015 - link

    Most modern windows OS send data to MS encrypted, almost all programs with internet connectivity do. The OP is prob just looking at the encrypted data it sends to check for windows updates. Has nothing to do with privacy.

    Holy hell did everyone just step on the jump to conclusions mat. lol
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, August 28, 2015 - link

    It has everything to do with privacy.

    Every time I press a key, a packet is sent. This is not updates.
  • Notmyusualid - Friday, August 28, 2015 - link

    It IS a Huge Red Flag.

    This guy is a Microsoft employee.
  • nikon133 - Sunday, August 30, 2015 - link

    You sound like you might be working for competition, though. Apple? Some shady Linux brotherhood? Just saying.

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