Written by Philip Magson
As with any high-profile launch, media hype creates confusion and speculation, but hyperbole apart, Windows 10 is offering a number of genuinely exciting features for businesses. It’s not just enterprise, enhancements like a new web-browser, improved security, and capabilities for transition between devices are going to be just as compelling for small businesses…
I should point out, I’m not talking about stuff Windows 10 is ‘repairing’ after the woes of Windows 8 (missing ‘Start’ button anyone?) – rather genuinely exciting features that could push your performance to the next level…
Current Branch for Business: the label may read ’10’ but it should be clear by now that Microsoft is doing away with the notion of ‘versions’ and opting for a constantly evolving OS platform. ‘CBB’ will let business users avoid the headaches of the traditional process by allowing updates to be tested and cleared for use by IT administrators before implementation. Essentially, businesses will benefit from the perks while maintaining a safe, secure OS which best serves their workplace.
Continuum mode: In continuum mode, Windows 10 users will be able to switch between tablet-use and desktop-use of the OS, with the click of a button – or the unplugging of a keyboard. I can already see this suiting the dynamics of my work day: sit down for a period of concentrated work, take my tablet along with me for meetings or travel. It’s a clever way of keeping devices like the Surface at the heart of the modern workplace.
Universal Apps: “Build once, run anywhere” Microsoft is promising developers a platform they can use to create a single app for every device running Windows 10 – from phones and tablets, to laptops and desktops. The ‘universal’ app experience may vary across contexts but developers will vastly reduce production costs and pass this on to business users who will be able to transition between device environments seamlessly.
Security: cyber-crime isn’t going away but it looks like Microsoft is responding to contemporary threats by adding ‘multi-factor security’, which specifically prioritises identity theft by shielding user credentials when breaches occur. Windows 10 will also offer protection at the level of the file itself – rather than the directory – meaning, in theory, your information stays secure as you move it from tablet to PC to mobile and onto the Cloud.
Virtual Desktops: designed to help users flip quickly between the different requirements of their work-day, Windows 10 includes a multi-tasking feature which creates ‘on-demand’ desktops. If you need Excel and a calculator for number-crunching you’ll be able to keep the application open and ready to go on one desktop while prepping for that presentation by having Word and PowerPoint open on another – and jump between the two instantaneously.
Cortana: Microsoft’s voice-command assistant, Cortana, will be right next to the Windows 10 start button and let you call up facts, figures and client information with a simple, spoken phrase “Hey, Cortana..”. Business benefits are obvious: make memos, arrange meetings, check travel… all hands-free. Cortana will also be integrated with the new ‘Spartan’ browsing platform for quick internet searches…
Spartan: Microsoft is pushing the maligned Internet Explorer aside and introducing a new web browser. Presenting a clean, simple interface, Spartan’s business potential involves a simple ‘save for later’ offline tool, smooth integration with Cortana, a ‘reading mode’ which strips websites down to their bare essentials, and a ‘Web Note’ button which lets you annotate or doodle on pages and share your notes with colleagues.
HoloLens: Okay, we’re getting into speculative territory here, but Microsoft has announced Windows 10 will feature support for the HoloLens. There’s no point guessing what form of integration the new tech will have upon release, but a glance at the HoloLens semi-conceptual launch video shows a range of augmented reality business possibilities including virtual design, information and communication applications and a host of real-time work functions. Microsoft is also pushing the HoloLens as a new way for businesses to interact with customers.