SAN FRANCISCO - Microsoft on Tuesday offered its first glimpse of its Windows 10 software that it hopes delivers a winning formula for powering tablets and smartphones, along with laptops and desktop computers.
The US software colossus focused on its core business market while unveiling an "early technical preview" of next-generation Windows software slated for release next year.
Microsoft executives said the naming decision to skip right from Windows 8 to Windows 10 was intended to reflect that the new software will be a big leap and not a small step.
While pulling back the curtain on an early technical build of Windows 10, Microsoft heralded the operating system as a blend of what was best in the previous two generations.
"This is what Windows 8 should have been," analyst Rob Enderle of Enderle Group in Silicon Valley said after attending the unveiling event in San Francisco.
"Now, they have the most advanced platform to deal with a BYOD (bring your own device) world." An "Insider Program" for developers who want to dabble with Windows 10 and provide feedback will kick off on Wednesday.
"Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows, unlocking new experiences to give customers new ways to work, play and connect," said Microsoft operating systems group executive vice president Terry Myerson.
"This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers."
Aimed at businesses
Pressure has been on Microsoft to win over companies that have shunned the current version of Windows, which was radically overhauled to adapt to the booming popularity of computing devices with touch screen controls.
While Windows 8 was tuned into personal lifestyles rich with smartphones or tablets, it was not a hit at companies where people still work using traditional computers with keyboards and mice.
More than a year after its release in late 2012, the number of businesses using Windows 8 were vastly outnumbered by those using Windows 7 and even using the earlier Windows XP, according to market trackers.
The operating system is crafted to automatically adapt to whichever device someone is using, from Xbox consoles and desktop computes to tablets or "tiny gadgets," according to Microsoft.
" Windows 10 will run across the broadest range of devices ever from the Internet of Things to enterprise data centers worldwide," the US software firm promised.
Microsoft also said the coming version of Windows will provide developers a converged platform that will allow them to write a single application that can run across the array of devices powered by the software.
Windows 10 will also boast enhanced security, including separating and securing data in ways more resistant to breach or theft.
A beloved "start menu" missed by users will make a comeback, providing 'quick one-click access to the functions and files that people use most," according to Microsoft.
Windows 10 is also designed to make it easier to work using multiple files or applications simultaneously.
The software can also segregate personal and work activities on mobile devices, allowing companies to wipe their information as needed but leave anything else untouched.
Windows 10 is also the first platform to aggressively handle biometrics "up through eyeball recognition," according to Enderle.
"I had a list of things Microsoft needed to do, and they ticked off everything," Enderle said of how Windows 10 is shaping up.
"It looks like they really hit on all the elements." Microsoft even improved a command prompt, addressing a long-running lament of Windows users stretching back for generations of the software.
Microsoft's Windows remains the dominant platform for traditional PCs but has been overtaken in the fast-growing mobile segments of tablets and smartphones by Google's Android and Apple's iOS.
Shares in Microsoft fell 0.19 per cent to close at US$46.35 (S$59.13) after the announcement.