Microsoft has given us a sneak preview of its next operating system and amongst the biggest surprises was the name.

So after 8 comes 10. But what happened to Windows 9? Maybe it was just considered too negative for the German-speaking market, although various other reasons have been offered – some more technical then others. One theory is that early tests of Windows 9 uncovered problems with code that some developers had used as a shortcut to detect whether apps were running on Windows 95 and Windows 98.

In any case, what’s in a name? The important questions are ‘what does Windows 10 hold in store for us all?’ and ‘how will it impact your business?’

[themecolor]The best release ever[/themecolor]

Microsoft says the changes it has planned for the next version of Windows are so significant, a jump in version numbers can easily be justified. However, users will be reassured to learn that the beta version of Windows 10, demonstrated to the world’s media this month, did not look like too radical a departure from Windows 8.

This is the careful line Microsoft must tread with this release. The company certainly needs to address the shortcomings of Windows 8 which have resulted in such low adoption rates by businesses (2 years after release, it only accounts for 13.37 per cent of the market – making it less popular even than Vista over the same lifespan*).

But it doesn’t want to scare off users with the prospect of even more change. Its marketing team will also have their work cut out trying to reintroduce some of the more popular features of Windows 7 without making this look like a backward step.

Despite these challenges, Microsoft appears excited. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems group said: “This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead.”

[themecolor]New features and some golden oldies[/themecolor]

So what do we know about the new and renewed features of Windows 10? Here are some key areas that Microsoft has already confirmed will be there.

Expanded Start menu. The familiar Start menu is back, providing quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most, and it includes a new space to personalise with favourite apps, programs, people and websites.

Apps that run in a window. Apps from the Windows Store will now open in the same format that desktop programs do. They can be resized and moved around, and have title bars at the top allowing users to maximize, minimize and close with a click.

Snap enhancements. Working in multiple apps at once will be easier and more intuitive with snap improvements. A new quadrant layout in Windows 10 allows up to four apps to be snapped on the same screen. Windows will also show other apps and programs running for additional snapping, and it will even make smart suggestions on filling available screen space with other open apps.

New Task View button. The new Task View button on the task bar enables one view for all open apps and files, allowing for quick switching and one-touch access to any desktop created.

Multiple desktops. Instead of too many apps and files overlapping on a single desktop, it will be easier with Windows 10 to create and switch between distinct desktops for different purposes and projects – whether for work or personal use.

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[themecolor]Some Windows 10 Screenshots[/themecolor]

Start Menu

New task view button

Multiple desktops

Snap enhancements

Everything runs in a window