Forget Windows 9. In an unexpected twist, Microsoft will be going straight to double digits from Windows 8 as it faces a challenging future for its operating system.
SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft just said no to 9. The follow-on to the current Windows 8 operating system will be known as Windows 10.
Originally codenamed Windows Threshold, the new operating system essentially does away with the decency on the tiled “Metro” user interface that Microsoft had attempted to implement across its entire device line, from desktop PCs to Surface tablets and Widows Phone devices. In its place is a combination of the so-called live tiles, present in areas like the new Start Menu, and a more classic Windows experience that aims to please both touch and keyboard-and-mouse users.
Windows 10 is such a substantial leap, according to Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, Terry Myerson, that the company decided it would be best to skip over Windows 9, the widely expected name for the next version.
“Windows 10 will run on the broadest amount of devices. A tailored experience for each device,” Myerson said at a press event here Tuesday. “There will be one way to write a universal application, one store, one way for apps to be discovered purchased and updated across all of these devices.”
Those changes found many critics and detractors.
Windows 8.1, released last year, attempted to address those complaints with the revival of core Windows design and usage properties, such as the Start button. Now, with Windows 10, Microsoft is not quite hitting the reset button on touch, but wants to make sure it does not repeat history in its attempt to take Windows forward.
“We believe that, together with the feedback you provide us, we can build a product that all of our customers will love,” Myerson said. “It will be our most open collaborative OS projects ever.”
Taking the stage after Myerson’s introduction was Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of operating systems and the current public face of Windows and Windows Phone design and development. He gave attendees a live demo of an early build of Windows 10. Belfiore, too, put the emphasis on a great leap forward.
“We want all these Windows 7 users to have the sentiment that yesterday they were driving a first-generation Prius,” he said, “and now with Windows 10 it’s like we got them a Tesla.”
Windows 10 combines elements of Windows 8′s forward-thinking design and the familiarity and functionality of Windows 7, still the most popular Microsoft OS. According to Web traffic-tracking firm Net Applications, Windows 7 could be found on 51 percent of desktop PCs in August, compared with just over 13 percent for versions 8 and 8.1 combined.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Oh it’s Microsoft giving up on touch,’” Belfiore said, pointing out the most obvious criticism of the scaled-back Metro interface. “We’re absolutely not giving up on touch. We have a massive number of users who know Windows 7 well and a massive, but smaller, number of people who know Windows 8 well.”