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Microsoft WINDOWS 10: Seven ATE Nine. Or Eight did really

Windows NEIN skipped, tech preview due out on Wednesday

Keeping the BOFH sweet

Myerson insisted IT administrators will love Windows 10, and attempted to explain why.

Firstly, Microsoft will allow its mobile device management software to run on all platforms, from the desktop to the smartphone. There will be a single control pane for all of that gear, and a host of new features to make life easier for hassled IT admins.

Security is going to be a big focus, he said, but declined to give much in the way of detail other than to say there will be an extra level of data protection, better support for remote wipe and lockdown, and customizable access to the Windows Store for enterprises that only allows whitelisted apps to be downloaded and installed.

These security tools will also protect data in transit, Redmond claimed, and if the Windows device is lost or stolen, the ability for others to access its stored data will be severely curtailed.

While Microsoft has promised software compatibility, there are still going to be a lot of legacy apps that IT managers are going to be worried about, so Redmond is including easy-to-use tools that will let managers test compatibility ahead of time, just in case.

Two become one

At this year's Intel Developer Forum there was a huge amount of hype for two-in-one devices; laptops with detachable screens that become tablets.

Belfiore said Microsoft is betting that these kinds of systems will be the next big thing in the laptop market, and Windows 10 will be built to address this hardware form specifically. When the screen is detached to become a tablet, a prompt pops up asking the user if they want to switch to tablet mode.

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If picked, the user interface changes to a more touch-friendly interface that's more familiar to Windows 8 users. Click the screen back into the casing, and you get another prompt box to switch back into a more keyboard-friendly Windows desktop.

Speaking of Windows 8, the Charms bar is also being heavily reworked, in part due to user feedback, Belfiore said. Swiping in from the right of the screen still brings up a menu, but according to the build shown today, the icons shown are for more useful things, like accessing Wi-Fi networks. This may change before release, he warned.

El Reg's early verdict

It's very early days yet, and what we've seen so far is only a small facet of what's coming for Windows 10 and its apparent focus on the enterprise sector. More consumer features will be announced in the coming months but, based on the sneak peek, this new OS may get Microsoft back in the good books of enterprise buyers.

Sitting in the presentation, the overwhelming thought in your humble hack's mind was: "This is what Microsoft should have done two years ago with Windows 8." Instead of Ballmer and Sinofsky trying to bully Windows users into accepting a touch-driven operating system, Satya Nadella's first operating system seems to want to seduce the user with a more gradual change in pace and design. It's like watching someone play bad cop, good cop.

Having fiddled around with the desktop-only OS build on show, the approach could well work. Users can still get a familiar UI, but Microsoft still has the benefit of being able to use the OS across a wide range of devices – in theory; if the promises of true cross-platform software are true, developers should like the new system, too.

That said, there's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip, as my granny used to say, and Redmond still has the possibility of mucking this one up. But on a very basic first look, Windows 10 looks promising indeed. ®

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