So it’s pretty early to make any judgements about Windows 10 given there isn’t that much information about it but I’ve downloaded the Technical Preview and had a play so I’m going to anyway.
Experience with Windows 8
We’ve built some Windows apps, both for the Windows 8.1 Store and for Windows Phone 8 Store. We collaborated on a project with Microsoft to make versions of the popular Betfred Lotto apps for the Windows platforms which were the first fully native betting apps in the Windows Stores. Working within the Modern UI UX guidelines (formerly Metro) was a great and refreshing experience compared to the iOS and Android platforms as it’s so different and intuitive for users.
Issues faced with Windows 8
There was however a flip side. When the Windows 8 / Windows Phone 8 platforms were announced there was the promise that it would be a unified developer platform, you could write your code once and use it anywhere, using the MVVM pattern you could change the presentation layer but keep the logic. We could create portable .NET libraries that would work on the different platforms and it would be easy!
Sadly the dream didn’t match the reality and we came across many issues with different support on platforms, differences between how the .NET Framework behaved on the platforms, third party libraries that would work on Windows Phone but not in Windows Store, push notifications were implemented differently, the submission was to two different stores that went through different approval processes.
After working through those problems we managed to develop a couple of fantastic apps. We personally were very pleased with the result and we got some great press, great feedback from the client and the public.
So why do I still use Windows 7?
Windows 8 as a desktop OS personally I thought it was a half-baked idea. I’m still running Windows 7 as my main OS, at work and at home, with occasional OS X Mavericks use. There was too much focus on touch for use with a keyboard and mouse and on the tablet it was too easy to get into a desktop that wasn’t suited for touch. It didn’t work well for either. Even worse was when Microsoft thought it was a good idea to put the same UI into Windows Server which most people won’t use directly rather through a remote desktop. Having to find the start menu by wiggling about in the bottom left corner or open the charms bar by wiggling about on the right hand side over remote desktop was bonkers and it’s frustrated me every time I’ve have to put up with it! A lot of people in the office really like it but I’m not one of them. I wasn’t a fan of the start screen, yes you could search but finding any app was a pain unless you spent hours arranging them yourself. Live tiles were fantastic on a phone where you can pick up and glance at it but who is going to press start to look at them?
The same unified development process promises are being made for 10 (also touted for Windows 8.1 since Build earlier this year) so given prior experiences I’m a bit reserved on this till we are actually doing some development. Saying that though, Microsoft rarely make the same mistakes twice or do they? (Windows alternates between good and bad versions, so going backwards, 10 good? 8.x bad, 7 awesome, Vista shocking, XP good, 2000 not great, NT good). Based on this pattern, I think they’ll probably get it right this time.
Technical Preview of Windows 10
I have downloaded and set-up the Technical Preview on a Virtual Machine and had a reasonable look through it and so far so good.
I’ve not got a variety of different devices to have a look at but the unification from a UI point of view looks to work much better across the range of devices and at first glance looks to be what Windows 8 should have been. The classic desktop still exists and works with the live tiles to produce a normal start menu and an interface that works in that context. There is no weird differentiation between desktop and store apps where the store apps are fullscreen and can’t be windowed, there are just apps.
The phone and tablet versions on the screenshots look quite similar to Windows 8.1 / Windows Phone 8 but touch in those scenarios it was never a problem.
The charms and app switching methods from Windows 8 are gone and don’t require having to attempt to do touch gestures with a mouse. There are virtual desktops, improved app switching, snap assist and more to make Windows 10 an OS that is as nice to use as Windows 7 and feels like progress.
The early signs are good and I’m quite hopeful that Microsoft will have a great OS on it’s hands that hopefully will work well on any device and we’re eager to get our hands on it and start developing for it. After the farce that was Windows Vista, the Beta for Windows 7 was a revelation and I feel similarly about Windows 10.