Windows 10 is set to replace the oft-criticized Windows 8 next year and some forward-thinking Dell customers are already excited about the possibilities of the new OS.
Dell customers who are exploring Windows 10 believe that the new OS takes care of some issues that Windows 8 failed to address, said Neil Hand, vice president of tablets at Dell.
The biggest advantage of Windows 10 is the ability to run programs across devices, be they mobile or desktop, Hand said.
"The ability to create applications that are super-scalable from phone to tablet to PC is the big step in a lot of ways," Hand said.
Dell is in the early stages of testing Windows 10 with its customers and Hand said it's premature to say whether the OS will succeed. Dell runs Windows on most of its PCs and will likely adopt Windows 10 for its tablets and PCs next year.
Microsoft previously offered different versions of the Windows OS for mobile phones, desktops and servers, but Windows 10 is designed to unite all those editions.
Microsoft also offers separate versions of Windows 8 for its Surface 2 and Surface Pro tablets, which run on different instruction sets. Programs written for Surface 2, which is based on ARM, won't run on Surface Pro 3, which is based on an Intel chipset. Windows 10 will eliminate any such incompatibilities and also make it easier to write and export programs from one device to another.
"Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices -- from the Internet of Things, to servers in enterprise datacenters worldwide. Some of these devices have 4 inch screens -- some have 80 inch screens -- and some don't have screens at all," said Terry Myerson , executive vice president at Microsoft's Operating Systems group, in a blog entry.
Windows 8, with its all-new tablet user interface, presented a radical transition at the time of its release two years ago and enterprise customers preferred to go with the older Windows 7. Business users, who are Dell's target base, have mostly skipped Windows 8 and are still upgrading PCs to Windows 7.
However, Microsoft had the right idea in mind with Windows 8, which was to prepare customers for mobile, Hand said.
"That to me ... was the real message with Windows 8 transition. Start moving towards a super-scalable environment. [Microsoft] was ahead of the curve in that implementation, but Windows 10 has an opportunity to implement that much better. How that's going to translate and what the customer adoption is, is what we're trying to figure out," Hand said.
Windows 10 brings back many old user favorites that were eliminated in Windows 8, like a real start menu. Microsoft has also put in a small version of the tablet interface inside the start menu so programs are easily accessible.
But operating systems are of less importance now to business customers and there is more concern around data compatibility, security and program interoperability. Customers just want programs to run without worrying about what the user interface looks like, which cloud services and virtualization make possible, Hand said.
For example, Dell's Wyse subsidiary offers a set of tools that allows an iPad to pull data from a Chromebook, or run a Windows program from a remote PC through a desktop virtualization program.
In fact, specific operating systems may matter less in the future as the cloud plays a larger role in storing data and running applications, Hand said. The most important things will be securing data and what apps can do, Hand said.