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I was at the Windows 10 teaser early this week for a presentation targeted largely at an IT audience. That doesn’t mean there weren’t some interesting things for users in it – but the focus was on making IT aware that a platform they should prefer is coming, and to start the testing and budgeting process.
Microsoft is still on their cadence where they engage with folks on a new platform every other platform, and I’m hoping that the firm’s new leadership will change this to every platform. Regardless, Windows 10 is on the cycle where they listen and you can see solid results in the changes they have made.
Let’s look at both the IT and user features folks should love. Be aware this is early and things will change before the mid-year 2015 release of the product. But I imagine many of you will be on this product long before then.
The Exchange/Azure Domain identity given to an employee can now be their sign-on with Windows 10 and the personality of their machine retained by IT. You can have multiple personalities on it, allowing the employee to log-in to either and clearly differentiate between work and personal use. However, more interesting is the ability to blend use. To allow them to log in with either their Microsoft ID (if it is their machine) or their Domain identity if it is an IT box – and also have their other ID active at the same time.
While from an administrative frame of reference I can see why you might want to separate the use cases, we all know users won’t care for that at all. By being able to blend the two elements together, IT can still set policy for the apps they control and, should the employee leave, remotely wipe them and the related data. But the user gets the convenience of being able to rapidly switch between personal and work-related apps whether at work, on the road, or at home, which should improve their satisfaction with the result.
Windows 10 will move biometrics forward to become a strategic component of the OS and not just fingerprint biometrics either. If a company wants to implement facial or iris recognition instead they will be free to do so. And given how unsecure passwords are any of these could be a big improvement with regard to securing the system.
Modern Device Management
This could get a bit confusing because the acronym is the same as Mobile Device Management. But Windows 10 spans phones to servers and many of these devices aren’t mobile. The details of this weren’t fully shared but a common mechanism for managing all Windows 10 products appears to be part of this roll out. This suggests that a single console could control phones through PCs at the very least, significantly reducing the overhead associated with this activity. While supporting alternative platforms wasn’t part of the announcement, Microsoft has been far more aggressive at doing this of late. I’d anticipate this capability at launch or shortly thereafter.
Enterprise App Store
This was promised with Windows 8 but will finally be delivered with Windows 10. IT can have its own app store, curate the apps themselves, and assure there are volume licenses and approvals in place to cover the purchases. In addition, with the tie to the app store if an employee loses, breaks, or upgrades their PC the personality and apps will all flow down to the unit now per IT policy. You really won’t have to image the boxes anymore. I kind of wonder how long it will take people to realize that imaging will be obsolete with this capability.
For the users the big change is that the interface is more Windows 7 than Windows 8. Yes, there are still live tiles but they are mostly just used on touch devices. And they now enhance the start menu, which is back where it belongs under the start menu. This menu still has the Windows symbol to identify it.
The platform will switch to a more Windows 8-like interface if you remove the keyboard and mouse but it will prompt you first, so you don’t have to go if you don’t want to. I’ve found that the live tiles work great on phones and tablets but on PCs they kind of suck. So this addressed my biggest complaint about Windows 8 right out of the box.
Frankly, if this was the only improvement in Windows 10 I’d love it.
Wrapping Up: Windows Insider
Perhaps the most important part of Windows 10 is the Windows Insider program. This program assures a large group of folks will have plenty of time to look at this new OS and comment on what needs to be enhanced, changed, or fixed. You can sign up for this program here.
This is the icing on this Windows 10 cake which should, assuming they use analytics correctly, result in a platform that will meet the needs and requirements of most users and IT managers.
In the end Windows 10 is basically a reboot from Microsoft, embracing all of their platforms, erasing some unfortunate decisions with Windows 8, and focusing back on what customers want with a new OS – not what software engineers want to give us. I think you’ll be pleased. I was.
Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.