Microsoft on Wednesday announced Windows 10, a sweeping change to its operating system for PCs, tablets and phones. The platform is now fully integrated across all three device categories and promises to bring a more seamless computing experience to consumers and business users alike. If you were expecting new APIs and SDKs, however, the news isn't so good.
Microsoft didn't say anything during its presentation about what developers will be able to do with Windows 10. When ProgrammableWeb asked Microsoft's Senior Marketing Manager Greg Sullivan about developer details, he only said, "We're going deep into this at Build. More to come then." Build is Microsoft's developer conference. This year it is being held from April 29 to May 1 at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. (Details here.)
Until then, developers can jump into the early-access program for Windows 10 to test the operating system itself. Microsoft said 1.7 million people are already testing the new platform and providing feedback. In fact, Microsoft has received 500,000 comments across 200 categories regarding Windows 10 and has put some of the user feedback to use by adding requested features to the operating system.
What's new in Windows 10? Here are some of the broad strokes.
First, Microsoft is bringing Cortana from Windows Phone to the entire Windows 10 ecosystem. The digital assistant responds to spoken commands and will get to know users over time so it can offer better recommendations and answers. Cortana is great for managing your calendar, to-do list and reminders.
Windows 10 does away with Internet Explorer. Microsoft has completely reimagined the browser in Project Spartan. The browser will include features found in Apple's Safari and Google's Chrome browsers, such as easy sharing tools and reading views. Users will also be able to ask Cortana to perform Web searches. Project Spartan will work on all three platforms and be better suited to pen- and finger-based input.
Gamers have a lot to be happy about. Windows 10 adds an Xbox One component so people will be able to play games on their PCs even if their friends are playing on an Xbox. New features include a GameDVR that will let people record and play back their games, as well as stream games from their Xboxes to their tablets and PCs.
Microsoft overhauled Office for Windows 10. Standouts include the new Outlook email app and calendar app, which integrate better than ever. Microsoft said new versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote have been rebuilt from the ground up with support for touch-based input. Notably, Microsoft's smartphones will get the full versions of these apps, rather than the slimmed-down versions found in Windows Phone 8.1.
"Windows 10 marks the beginning of the more personal computing era in the mobile-first, cloud-first world," said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. "Our ambition is for the 1.5 billion people who are using Windows today to fall in love with Windows 10 and for billions more to decide to make Windows home."
The best news? Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for most devices running Windows 7, Windows 8/8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1.