Microsoft plans to release its new Windows 10 operating system on July 29.
Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s vice president of operating systems, revealed the release date this morning with a blog post. Previously, the company had said Windows 10 would arrive sometime in the summer. According to the company, the new OS will reach 190 countries across the globe in 111 languages.
Microsoft unveiled an early version of Windows 10 in the fall, releasing a “technical preview” to a small group of testers. The OS is intended for both businesses and consumers, and according to Microsoft, it will run on an unprecedented array of machines. This includes desktops, laptops, phones, and tablets, “Internet of Things” devices that power homes and business offices, and computer servers running in the massive data centers that underpin the world’s Internet services. The company says the new Windows will also run on its new Hololens augmented-reality headset. For now, however, the version shipping on July 29 will be available only for desktops, laptops, and tablets.
With the rise of the Mac and so many other alternatives to Windows computers—including a world of tablets as well as Google’s Chrome OS machines—Microsoft is facing more competition than ever on the consumer front. But it’s hoping to stay ahead of rivals with new technology like Hololens and Continuum for Phone, a way of turning any screen into a personal PC by simply plugging in your smartphone. It’s unclear, however, just how useful these new tools will be.
On the business front, Microsoft is on surer ground—though there are challenges to overcome here as well. According to David Johnson, an analyst with Forrester Research, businesses have been slow to adopt Microsoft’s previous OS—Windows 8—because its interface was somewhat difficult to use and upgrading to the OS was more trying than it needed to be. Microsoft aims to fix such issues with Windows 10. In particular, the OS includes a new interface that moves back to the family Windows “Start Menu,” which was pushed into the background with Windows 8, and it dovetails with various tools for managing and securing the OS.
Johnson believes that these tools will see Windows 10 widely adopted on desktops and laptops inside businesses—more so than Windows 8. “I think that Windows 10 will be adopted—as an IT standard,” he says. “It solves a lot of the shortcomings and challenges that enterprises had with Windows 8.”
‘It solves a lot of the shortcomings and challenges that enterprises had with Windows 8.’
As Johnson points out, however, this is largely because so many businesses already use some form of Windows. Microsoft’s prospects on phones and tablets are slimmer, with Apple and Google dominating these markets with the iPhone, the iPad, and a host of Android devices. According to Forrester’s numbers, of the office workers who use tablets in addition to their Windows desktops and laptops, only about 15 percent of them run Windows on those tablets. So many people, Johnson says, are happy with iOS and Android devices.
As a result, Microsoft is now pushing many of its own Windows applications onto iOS and Android. And it’s offering tools for moving apps from other devices onto Windows machines. Johnson applauds the move, saying that, in a world where iPhones and Android devices are so very popular, this is the best way to keep people using Windows on desktops and laptops. But he acknowledges that the decision could also suppress the growth of Windows phones. And with Windows controlling only 2.8 percent of the phone market, according to IDC, Microsoft’s share couldn’t get much smaller.