In-depth

Windows 10: Microsoft's plan to win over the enterprise

Familiarity and listening to user feedback is key

Familiar, familiar, familiar. This was the message consistently pushed out by Microsoft during TechEd Europe 2014.

Joe Belfiore, the man overseeing the development of the OS promised attendees Windows 10 will bring all the features everyone loves in Windows 7, while increasing security, manageability and functionality.

Windows 10 will bring an experience "hundreds of millions of people are familiar with," Belfiore proclaimed on-stage during his keynote.

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Windows 10 is the most open software collaboration project from Microsoft.

Belfiore started off his demo by reintroducing the Start Menu, much to the delight of the enterprise crowd. This was followed up by showing more features aimed at power users and IT admins.

Multiple desktops, snap support for multi-monitor users, gesture shortcuts for the trackpad as well as the ability to use a smartphone for two-factor authentication were all showcased. Even the ability to copy and paste into Command Prompt via Ctrl + V was greeted with a cheer.

Although Belfiore didn't say when Continuum, one of the headline features of Windows 10, will be ready to preview, he did tell IT Pro it should be available in a couple of months and will make the general release.

Customer feedback is king

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Microsoft did take feedback on-board with Windows 8.x updates, but this was done in response to complaints.

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It's all change with Windows 10, where customer feedback is being taken to a new level.

"Windows 10 is the most open software collaboration project to-date," Stella Chernyak, senior director of Windows at Microsoft told IT Pro.

"Enterprises and businesses have been a huge focus for Windows 10 from day zero. We started talking to business customers almost a year ago, because they need time to plan and they have a lot of opinions on how Windows should operate.

"With every Windows 10 capability we are looking at feedback in real-time from one million customers who've signed up to the Technical PreviewIf customers want us to make changes we'll definitely look into making it part of our development."

Convergence, security and manageability

Both Belfiore and Chernyak emphasised the importance of the converged platform, which will make Windows 10 attractive to enterprises.

"One converged platform is a big deal as businesses can create an application once and run it across all their devices. But Windows 10 is not just a platform for applications. It's got one security model, one network stack and management paradigm," she continued.

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"Enterprises will also provide protection against modern security threats, for devices, corporate data and user identity."

A simple upgrade path

Perhaps one of the most attractive features of Windows 10 will be the direct upgrade paths from previous editions.

"If you have Windows 7 or Windows 8 you'll be able to do an in-place upgrade. For example, you can go from Windows 7 to 10 directly and preserve your apps, data, configurations and settings," Chernyak said.

"Enterprise customers are really excited about that as it means they will not have to go through the whole wipe and replace exercise, [instead upgrade] in a similar fashion that enterprises may have been pushing service packs."

There are still no details on pricing, with Microsoft set to release information closer to launch. But with the launch date pencilled in for Summer 2015, Redmond has plenty of time of mull what is likely to be another crucial decision.

It's early days for Windows 10, but watching Belfiore on-stage and talking to members of the Windows team, the signs are positive. What's clear is the mindset in the division has changed and Microsoft's number one priority is to please customers and avoid a repeat of Windows 8.

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