Windows 10: ARMed and Dangerous?

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With the reveal of Windows 10 Microsoft has begun the process of changing up its mobile offerings. We know that the desktop will be getting a makeover in the next release but phones and tablets will be changing too. It is the nature of that change that will be a mystery.

With the announcement, Microsoft released an image of the type of devices that will make up the Windows 10 launch. If you take the image released as a clue you can sort of grasp what the Softies are going for. We already know that Windows 10 will be blending the divide between the desktop and the touch friendly Modern environment (as represented by Continuum). But the picture provides a look at screens many think won’t carry the desktop.

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Looking at the images the first thing you notice is that phones and tablets look like Windows Phone. Albeit the UI shown looks to come with the ability to change the background colors and not just the tiles. It also appears you can group apps similar to Windows 8. And if you look closely at the min tablet it looks like the virtual buttons introduced for Windows Phone 8.1 will be a factor. Now I will go on a limb and say in landscape the new ARM tablets will resemble the Windows 8 Start Screen with what looks like modifications. (I say that even though more experienced Redmond watchers hint something else) This portrait view could be different from the one shown for Windows 10’s desktop which you can see if you look at the Lenovo Yoga type device.

There are a number of questions I have about this part of Windows 10. It has been rumored for a while that Microsoft would combine Windows RT (OS for ARM based devices) and Windows Phone; and this looks like what these are. My first question will this OS run on both ARM and Intel devices? Right now there are mini tablets running Windows that have the desktop and I wonder if they will be moved to an OS sans a desktop. Two will there be ARM devices beyond phones. At the launch of Windows 8 Microsoft introduced Windows RT (a version of Windows ported to ARM); it has met mixed success due to it not running legacy software. Will this version of Windows be used outside of phones? It may not run legacy software natively, but it provides safer computing and longer battery life. Third will Continuum be a part of mobile? What replaces the desktop for multitasking? I ask this because now on Windows RT users can have a laptop like experience. Will they, can they on a device without a desktop environment; and what happens when they plug in a keyboard?

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My last question has to do with the future of Metro. Metro was the codename and unofficial name for the design language and interface used by Microsoft in tablets and phones. At this time it is around four or five years old and in need of a refresh. I know that the time between Windows 8 and 10 is probably too short but I hope Microsoft is thinking about updating its UI. For me the key is refining the Live Tile metaphor. Providing users and developers with something new. Also in making the interface a bit more customizable.

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