There's a brand-new Windows operating system planned for 2015. We reveal what to expect from Windows 10 in the coming year. Also see: Windows 10 review; Windows 10 release date, price, features; Windows 10 screenshots; Windows 10 vs OS X 10.10 Yosemite and How to get Windows 10 now.
We don’t need to gaze into our crystal ball to find out what’s going to happen in the Windows universe in the coming year. Microsoft has laid bare its plans for Windows 10 - oddly skipping over Windows 9 - which involve listening to user feedback from an open beta programme.
Anyone can download and try early versions of the operating system, but these are currently aimed more at business users, which Microsoft needs to woo after the miniscule uptake of Windows 8.
Consumer features for Windows 10 are largely still unknown, but Microsoft has already said that the Consumer Preview will be available early in 2015. It also declared at the unveiling of Windows 10 that it will be: “One platform for all devices.” This means that although the interface will look different, the underlying operating system will be the same for Window Phones, Windows tablets, laptops, PCs and even the Xbox One console.
There will also be one unified store from which to buy games, apps, music, videos and more. Quite how this will work in practice - especially for apps - remains to be seen, but if you can buy an app on one device and have it available on all your Windows kit, then that has to be a good thing and a potential reason to invest in a Windows ecosystem.
Windows Phone itself will get an interim update which should be rolled out to smartphones early in 2015, bringing Cortana to older Windows Phone 8 handsets, which are lacking Microsoft’s digital assistant. Windows Phone 8.1 Update will also let users create folders on the home screen, introduce a kind of guest mode (in addition to Kids Mode) where you can allow friends to access certain apps, and new ‘accessory apps’, which provide notifications from your phone on a compatible wearable device, such as an activity tracker. Interestingly, there will also be a VPN designed for making it safer for anyone to use public Wi-Fi hotspots. Also see: 30 funny questions you should ask Cortana.
It’s possible that later on in 2015, to tie in with the public release of Windows 10, we’ll see an announcement or even a launch of Windows Phone 10. If Microsoft also wants users to see Windows as one platform, it needs to bring the version numbers in line with each other as quickly as possible, and ensure that it doesn’t cut existing owners off as it did with the change from Windows Phone 7 to Windows Phone 8.
That would be a disaster as Windows Phone has finally established itself as a credible third option alongside Android and iOS, but is struggling to increase its market share. This in turn is putting off developers, which creates a catch-22 scenario where the lack of apps (or quality apps) is putting off users from switching to Windows Phone.
Microsoft is pulling out all the stops to get developers on board, but it’s hard to see Windows Phone gaining on Android or iOS during 2015.
With Windows 10 putting a firm focus back on the keyboard and mouse when running on a PC or laptop, we should also see a bigger separation between PCs and tablets. There’s still a rather awkward push towards so-called 2-in-1 devices, which try to be both a laptop and tablet, but generally offer the worst of both worlds.