Windows 10 Tech Preview bodes well for the future of Windows

It's no secret that Windows 8 hasn't been as popular as Microsoft had hoped. In fact, by the end of 2013, Windows 8 accounted for just 2 percent of all Windows copies installed in businesses. Over half were Windows 7, and almost a third XP.

For consumers, avoiding Windows 8 has been much trickier since it comes pre-installed on laptops and PCs and requires considerable effort and determination to 'downgrade' to Windows 7 or another OS.

Announcing Windows 10 at the very end of September, Microsoft issued something of a mea culpa and promised that there will be no "duality" and unfamiliarity in the next version of Windows.

Calling it Windows 10 is almost as confusing as Windows 8's split interface, but Terry Myerson - the head of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group - insisted that the name will make sense when we've all seen "the product in its fullness".

Everything announced at the understated launch bodes well for Windows' future. The Start menu is back in its old place and there's just one desktop on which all software runs, including windowed modern apps.

What's interesting is that Windows 10 will run on everything from your smartphone and tablet to your laptop and desktop PC. It will even run on your Xbox, and there will be a single store where you can buy apps and games for any of your devices.

Another departure from the norm is that the Technical Preview - a very early build of Windows 10 - is freely available for anyone to install through the new Windows Insider Program. The aim is to build a large base of testers - both business and PC enthusiasts - and then listen closely to their feedback.

So it's great news all round. At last, Microsoft has realised that loyal Windows users don't want to be pushed into using a touch-oriented OS on their traditional desktop PC. At the same time, there's an acknowledgement that the same people own smartphones and tablets - and Xboxes - where they do want a different interface and control method.

If you can buy a single app which will run on your smartphone and PC, that's a pretty compelling reason to upgrade to Windows 10. Let's hope that developers get on board with the idea; we'll have to wait until at least the summer of 2015 to find out if it's a success or not.

See also: Windows 10 preview