Now that the initial clamoring over Microsoft's quizzically numerated Windows 10 operating system has quieted, users can focus on the two biggest questions left unanswered: When will it be out, and more importantly, will she be there?
Frustratingly, the answer to the former is simply, "the second half of 2015." The Redmond tech giant seems to be sticking to a timetable that places the official launch toward the end of next summer. Conveniently, this allows for just enough time to capitalize on the back-to-school market, and should hardware manufacturers stay on point, take a huge slice out of technology competitor sales for the holiday season.
Microsoft's plans for Windows 10 are bold. To the dismay of the naysayers, Microsoft is seeking to do what both Apple and Google have not been able to accomplish: a unified operating system across all devices. Apple still divides their mobile and desktop computing businesses with iOS and OS X, respectively. Google dominates the mobile space for now with Android, but their Chrome OS computers, or "Chromebooks," are laughably lackluster. The future that Microsoft envisions is one in which both Apple and Google are forced to hear the four words they most fear: "Microsoft did it first".
The answer to the latter question is much more optimistic. Cortana is very likely to appear on Windows 10 starting day one. When asked if Cortana was on her way to other platforms, Microsoft Chief Experience Officer Julie Larson-Green responded pluckily.
"The short answer is yeah."
Cortana has been winning the hearts and minds of some of the staunchest supporters of Google Now and Siri, proving to be right on par with Google's voice assistant and light years ahead of Siri, who has, oddly enough, been in the game longer than the others. Of course, being an emotionally charged lead character from the hugely successful Halo video game franchise, Cortana naturally had a leg up on the competition.
The promises Windows 10 has made are going to be onerous when it comes to delivering on them. But if Windows 10 is the skeleton on which Microsoft hopes to build its future, the services it offers would most assuredly be its heart. Fortunately for Microsoft, it has not-so-secretly been developing these services for years. The Xbox suite of entertainment services, for example, already work seamlessly between Xbox consoles, Windows 8.1 computers and tablets, and Windows Phone devices. OneDrive, Microsoft's cloud storage service, likewise offers integration between all devices.
For Windows 10 to thrive as a consumer system, it must be able to accommodate advancements in technology that are, at this moment, unavailable. With Windows 10 Build #9860, it was found that Microsoft incorporated support for the MKV video container, a popular choice for online media pirates. What was also found, however, is that both FLAC and HEVC formats were included as well, making Windows 10 fully capable of 4K video and lossless audio.
What are your thoughts on Windows 10? Exciting new future or flash in the pan? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.