Microsoft Unveils Windows 10, Skips Over Windows 9

Microsoft bounds past Windows 9 and makes a play for business PC market with its upcoming Windows 10 operating system.

Microsoft Windows 10

Microsoft is once again shaking up its Windows naming scheme.

The Redmond, Wash.-based company is skipping over Windows 9. Seemingly eager to put Windows 8 well behind it, Microsoft announced that the upcoming version of the company's flagship operating system, codenamed "Threshold," would be instead called Windows 10.

The OS update will be Microsoft's most enterprise-friendly, said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the company's Operating Systems group. "This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead," he said in a statement.

Microsoft contends that the upcoming OS "builds nearly everything that businesses need right into the core of the product—including enterprise-grade security, identity and information protection features—in ways that can reduce complexities and provide better experiences than other solutions," stated the company. Windows 10 incorporates container-based data loss prevention features that extend protection to data as it moves between devices, email, USB drives and the cloud.

A technical preview will be available for download on Wednesday, Oct. 1.

Windows 10 will feature the long-awaited unified Start Menu and other PC-centric features, first teased during the Microsoft Build conference in April.

Blending elements of the traditional Start Menu and Microsoft's touch-friendly tiled interface, the updated menu makes it easier for keyboard and mouse users to launch applications. As expected, modern Windows apps (formerly Metro) can now run in a Window and users will be able to switch between workspaces with built-in support for multiple desktop support.

Microsoft is also positioning the OS as a major pillar of the company's new unified software ecosystem. "Windows 10 will run across an incredibly broad set of devices—from the Internet of things, to servers in enterprise data centers worldwide. Some of these devices have 4-inch screens—some have 80-inch screens—and some don't have screens at all," wrote Myerson in a company blog post.

It will also be a test of the software giant's new universal Windows app development initiative.

"Whether you're building a game or a line-of-business application, there will be one way to write a universal app that targets the entire family. There will be one store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices," said Myerson.

By skipping a whole version number, Microsoft made a curious choice in branding its next Windows OS. At the surface, it appears as an attempt to put as much distance between it and the controversial Windows 8.

According to the latest figures from Net Applications, a Web analytics firm, Windows 8.x (Windows 8 and 8.1) has only managed to grab a little over 13 percent of the desktop OS market, since it first launched in Oct. 2012. By comparison, Windows 7, which was released in 2009, accounts for more than 51 percent of the market. Even Windows XP, a nearly 13-year-old OS that is no longer supported by Microsoft, clings to 23 percent of the market.

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez

Pedro Hernandez is a contributor to eWEEK and the IT Business Edge Network, the network for technology professionals. Previously, he served as a managing editor for the network of...