Let's face it, Windows 8 sucked. The interface was a confusing mash of touchscreen and traditional mouse-and-keyboard elements that got no love from most quarters and the fact that Microsoft took away long-standing features like the Start menu angered just about everyone. All that's about to change.
On Wednesday, Microsoft will take a second swing at the future of its operating system. At an event at its Redmond headquarters, the company will finally unveil the Consumer Preview of Windows 10, the next version of Windows, to the world. To be fair, some of us have already been playing with the Technical Preview, an early, unpolished version of Windows 10 that Microsoft released in September last year. But the Consumer Preview marks a special milestone: for the first time, Microsoft will show off brand new features that it hopes will set right everything that Windows 10 did wrong.
Here's what we expect from tonight's event:
Sure, Windows 10 runs great on traditional laptops and desktops. But what if you have one of those newer, hybrid devices that combine a tablet with a detachable keyboard? Microsoft's solution to fix this problem was something called 'Continuum,' a feature that dynamically changes the user interface as soon as you snap a keyboard on or off. Check out the video below to get an idea of what it will look like.
If it is indeed as elegant as it looks, Microsoft will solve Windows 8's biggest pain point.
Microsoft's intellligent voice-controlled assistants on its phones will finally be seen in Windows on your laptop and desktop. Talking to your computer isn't as natural as talking to your phone, so we'll have to wait and see if Cortana in Windows is really useful or just a gimmick. But at any rate, it will give Microsoft a one-up over Apple, which doesn't have Siri integrated into its own OS X operating system yet.
3. Support for more media formats
Are you an audiophile that prefers uncompressed FLAC audio over crummy little MP3 files? A serial downloader that gets their movies in open-source MKV? Windows 10 will support these file formats out of the box. Take that, VLC.
4. Better XBOX integration
While it's unclear how exactly will Microsoft will bring Windows, the world's dominant desktop operating sytstem, and XBOX, one of the two biggest gaming platforms in the world together, rest assured that this will happen. Last year, CEO Satya Nadella made clear that XBOX was an integral part of Microsoft's Windows 10 strategy. Will we be able to stream XBOX One games right down to your Windows PC as some gamers are claiming? We'll find out tonight.
5. Windows Phone
Microsoft's mobile platform is just about hanging in there with a 3 percent market share around the world but the company isn't going to give up just yet. Expect Microsoft to unify the underlying code behind Windows and Windows Phone so make it easy for developers to write apps that will run on both desktop and mobile devices seamlessly.