Microsoft announces Windows 10; preview program starts today

The new Start menu Credit: Source: Microsoft

Yesterday Microsoft revealed the next version of Windows called, inexplicably, Windows 10. (During the Q&A session someone asked why they jumped from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. The non-answer, according to The Verge's liveblog of the event: This product, when you see the product in your fullness I think you'll agree with us that it's a more appropriate name. Well that certainly clarifies things!)

I wasn't at the event so didn't get any hands-on time with the new OS, but I hope to get into the "Windows Insider" program so I can get a copy of the preview build and throw it onto an old laptop or something. If you want to check it out too, the URL you want is http://preview.windows.com and the program is supposed to go live today.

The major features I've picked up on so far include a return of the Start Menu, though when it opens up it looks like a slice of Windows 8's start screen. Plus Windows apps can now be resized rather than insisting on running full-sized or snapped. (Stardock Software's $5 Modernmix lets you do this today on Windows 8 & 8.1.)

Speaking of the Windows 8.1 Start Screen, that seems to be gone at least when you use mouse and keyboard. There's a Mac OS-like Task View that shows you all currently running programs, multiple desktops and the ability to snap 4 programs in a 2x2 grid rather than just two.

I'm gleaning all this from a 4 minute video that introduces some of the new features:

A new version of Windows is something I feel kind of obligated to cover but honestly I'm not as excited as I thought I'd be. I'm in that small minority of people who actually likes Windows 8.1. I don't really want the Start Menu back and I just hope Windows 10 retains the super fast ability to find a program by typing the first few letters of its name. I already use Modernmix to get a handle on Windows Store apps (the few that I've found that are worth using); it's just not clear to me yet why I'd want to upgrade. I guess that's what the preview build is all about.

The final version of Windows 10 isn't due until late next year (and by the way, no pricing was announced yet) so Microsoft has a lot of time to share more info and build more features; I'm keeping an open mind. What about you? Are you excited about a new version of Windows?

Read more of Peter Smith's TechnoFile blog and follow the latest IT news at ITworld. Follow Peter on Twitter at @pasmith. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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