Windows 10: Microsoft Looks to ‘Start’ Again
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Windows 10: Microsoft Looks to ‘Start’ Again

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If struggling with the changes in Windows 8 has driven you to your wits end, don’t worry — there isn’t much time before Microsoft rolls out the newest version of its operating system.

That version will be named Windows 10, even though it follows Windows 8.1. The next generation of Windows “gives the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the elements of Windows 8,” according to Microsoft executive Terry Myerson, who presented a peek at the new software at a San Francisco event Tuesday. The software is due to be released in late 2015, though beta testers and developers can get their hands on it much sooner.

After the very chilly reception that Windows 8 received, it would seem Microsoft has learned its lesson. An initiative called Windows Insider, also due to launch soon, will allow those so inclined to get their hands on an early copy of the software in exchange for honest usability feedback and bug reporting. This effort seems to underscore Microsoft’s determination to respond to accurate and honest customer feedback before releasing a final version.

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While it has enjoyed a long stint as the de facto operating system of choice, especially in corporate settings, Windows — along with Microsoft’s category-leading Office software — has faced increased pressure from Apple’s OSX, Google’s various software offerings and user-friendly Linux distributions, as well as from changing behavior in an increasingly mobile and cloud-based computing world.

Microsoft’s Windows 8 revamp, meant to adapt the traditional operating system for touchscreens and mobile devices, was met with a torrent of derision and ridicule upon its release. Critics found Windows’ attempt to have a common operating system between mobile and desktop devices to be fundamentally flawed, with both users finding they had usability difficulties.

By the looks of it, Windows 10 looks to revert desktop use to a more traditional experience, even as Microsoft means to have the new version of Windows serve as the operating system for all sorts of devices, from phones to tablets to desktop computers.

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One of the largest complaints about Windows 8 concerned the substitution of Windows’ traditional “Start” menu with a cascading full-screen array of tiles that many users found difficult to navigate. In their presentation today, the Microsoft team made it perfectly clear that the Start menu would be brought back from the grave for desktop users, albeit with a small tile interface shoehorned in. In addition, Windows 8’s tablet-oriented full-screen apps, which infuriated desktop users by taking over their screens, are being modified to be more flexible.

All this information, and still the biggest question out there still hasn’t been answered: Why Windows 10? Looks like we’ll be wondering for a while. "When you see the product in its fullness," Myerson said cryptically in today’s demo, according to USA Today, “I think you will agree with us that it is a more appropriate name."

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