I’m generally deeply skeptical of when anyone claims a new development in the world of desktop operating systems. We’ve all seen too many desktop OS championed as “The future of desktop computing!” that ultimately deliver only minor improvements (looking at you OSX, for the last ten years). When it comes to OSes, you can say that I’m more of a Google Guy than a Microsoft Guy. I’m more concerned about how I access the web, not what OS I used to do it. I own an Android Phone, a Apple Laptop, and a Windows PC. But when I got the notification that my PC was ready to upgrade to Windows 10 I figured I’d play around with it. Here are my first impressions.

“It’s Different!” but Windows Never Changes

This is an example conversation between me and Windows10 after having used it after a few minutes.

W10: “Look at how this is different!”

Me: “Is it actually good?”

W10: “It’s different!”

Every single aspect of the upgrade and user on boarding process is very in your face with “It’s Different””. At first glance the entire user experience (UX) feels purposely designed to highlight how not Windows8 it is. While it’s one thing to accept and admit the flaws of Windows8, the lengths that Microsoft has gone to show where they’ve made changes is really strange. All of this the “It’s Different” seems out of place given that aside from the start menu and the killing of the “charms” menu, it’s basically the same OS we’ve been using since Windows 95 from a UX standpoint.

Windows10 is deeply familiar for good reason, Windows never changes. Windows 95 was the first Graphic User Interface I can recall using (I had probably played with Macintoshes at some point but don’t remember specific instances). What I remember most from Windows 95 was that I could finally launch my own games instead of having to ask my dad to type in DOS commands. Even by ‘95 though the GUI had been around for well over a decade, and the formula from a UX standpoint was already figured out. Every subsequent version of Windows I’ve used I could follow the same step by step guide:

  1. It’s Windows, you know how to use it.
  2. Find out where they’ve moved things in this version.

That’s all you have to do with Windows10. Just like previous versions it runs on pretty much anything, and installs familiar programs. Now there are some minor improvements but there is nothing that aspires to be a great improvements into how we use computers. Ultimately it lacks an ultimate vision of what Windows will be in the future that Windows8 with all of its flaws had, which I find kind of sad.

What’s the Future for Microsoft?

Microsoft in increasingly moving to be a pure IBM/Adobe/Oracle style software/services corporation. It very well may have always been this type of company but just happened to create the most popular desktop OS on the planet. However, the significance of the desktop OS is increasingly diminishing. The shift to web and mobile computing with things like Chrome, Android, and iOS, as well as any number of options for interacting with computers not on the desktop has forced Microsoft’s hand.

Yet, I don’t think we’re looking at a situation like “Kodak facing the rise of the personal digital camera” but rather the refocusing of the company to it’s other many diversified areas. (Where as Kodak to focus on cameras and printers sold off almost all of it’s non-photo chemical production departments, most of which now are part of a little chemical company called 3M.) In a lot of ways you can say that this is the real triumph of the Steve Balmer era at Microsoft. Under Balmer’s tenure Microsoft became very diversified with introduction of things like the Xbox and many other experiments to find new avenues for the company. Sure Balmer had some big failures but Microsoft then and now is such a large company it can afford to take risks if it’s good for the future of the company.

What’s even more amazing for Microsoft is that Satya Nadella, only the third CEO in the company’s history, may actually be the most uniquely qualified person possible to lead Microsoft into a new era of software and services. He’s really an exciting CEO and the growing competitive landscape will drive Mircosoft, Google, Apple, and more to push the boundaries of computers in a way that we haven’t seen before.

As for Windows10, it probably the best version of Windows for what it needs to be now, just a tool to get to other services, which Microsoft is hoping are theirs. But while I may never use Bing, but I’m excited for a strong Microsoft.