So on January 21st Microsoft will be holding a live event on the next step on the road to Windows 10’s release. It will be a big deal because unlike the first reveal CEO Satya Nadella will be onstage along with Windows chief Terry Myerson and head of phone/tablet/PC Joe Belfiore. In an added twist head of Xbox Phil Spencer will also be part of festivities. While speculation is this event will reveal what people can expect next time they walk into a BestBuy, there is still a mystery around it.
While the details of desktops changes for the next OS release had been known; we know little of changes coming to tablets and phones. Early on there was reports that Microsoft was working on a Metro 2.0 and that there would be a mobile SKU combining Windows’s ARM based systems (Windows Phone and Windows RT). An early screenshot seem to confirm Windows 10’s touch side would resemble Windows Phone. Now right at this point I am trying to keep expectations low; I’ve never been a fan of making the WinPhone interface the tablet UI. Also I think if there was ever a place to wow users and critics it is with the mobile/touch side. So to this end these are some of the things I think Microsoft should do next month.
I do not how much of the Metro Design Language can change between now and release. Right now I’m tempering any possible excitement with the reality that there is only so much that can be done. Most reports and thinking indicate it’ll look like Windows Phone. Personally I think Redmond should take this opportunity to really play around with the UI. Give us something that builds on the Metro interfaces from both Phone and Windows and give us something new. Give us new customizations. Fix portrait mode and give us new ways to multitask apps. I mean Windows 10 will be the next version running on phones, that is enough to warrant some showstoppers.
Show Us Gemini
I think I speak for many when I say Office apps built for Windows tablets or Office for touch is way, way overdue. The tablet story for Windows was always weakened by not having versions of PowerPoint, Word, and Excel built for it. And things were not helped when Office went first to the iPad. So Microsoft would be wise to at least have the apps stop by and say Hello.
Show Us New Services and Apps
Beyond a new interface, even beyond Office apps there needs to be a show of progress on the application front. The Operating Systems Group or OSG (maker of Windows) need to come with new apps in hand that highlight the use of Universal apps. Microsoft also needs to show new services. Apps like Sway which highlight new thinking from the Office team is one example they could show. Another are services aimed at consuming data; the y recently lost Barnes and Noble so maybe the 21st would be a nice time to show off a new e-Reading service.
GAMES, GAMES, GAMES
So the head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, will be part of the livestreamed event and he’s hinted he will be talking about gaming and Windows. Many think he will talk about Xbox (Its built on Windows) or PC gaming; all valid assumptions. Spencer himself on a number of occasions has talked about role of gaming on Windows and the need to improve Windows for gaming. My hope is Spencer talks about gaming across screens; from phones to tablets to consoles. I also hope this talk includes games that highlight this commitment.
Make a case for Windows (Pure) tablets
People who loved the desktop and live for using the mouse and the keyboard love Windows 10 (unless they are the weird cult of Aero or the weirder ones clinging to XP). If you liked the touch interface of Windows 8 or have grown to love using Windows tablets you may wonder what’s in 10 for you. Microsoft has prudently, pragmatically focused on the desktop for the initial launch. That was the area where the most consternation was. However Redmond still needs to build an OS that can exist on pure tablets. Beyond showing how well the next version makes laptops happy, it needs to bring a smile to tablets too. Windows 10 needs to prove beyond doubt that it’s a platform for touch devices.
Make a Case for Windows Period
The biggest goal for the event is sell people on the idea of Windows. I think the goal to make Windows 10 something people want to use is a good thing. I know many writers and bloggers, even analysts that view Windows as this business product. It needs to be productive and pragmatic. However I think it’s time for an operating system used by over 90% of people to have an emotional connection to them. Windows needs to be needed; it has to have some consumer want. Windows has a reputation and most of it is not good. Where power users and IT see flexibility, power, and granularity regular users see confusion, hear viruses, and complexity without reward. The OS has to compete against the fit and finish of the Mac (It’s purty) and the simplicity of Chromebooks (all you need is a browser). The biggest takeaway Redmond should leave people is that Windows still matters and it has something you want.