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Microsoft To Showcase Windows 10 for Consumers on January 21

Microsoft will disclose some of its plans for enhancing the consumer experience of Windows 10 on January 21.

The event, featuring top executives, will be live streamed from Microsoft's campus at Redmond, Wash. The announced speakers will include CEO Satya Nadella, as well as Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems Group, Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the Operating Systems Group and Phil Spencer, who heads Microsoft's Xbox product efforts, according to a Microsoft blog post.

People will be able to watch the live Webcast via a link that will be posted at the "Blogging Windows" feed.

January Tech Preview
Microsoft has released several builds of Windows 10 since the OS had its debut in October. The builds arrive with new features as well as fixes. A "January technical preview" consumer version is expected to be Microsoft's next release of Windows 10, according to a report by veteran Microsoft observer Mary Jo Foley. She described this release as being a "consumer version" of Windows 10, citing unnamed sources.

The January technical preview is expected to include a "continuum" Windows 10 feature that changes a machine's behavior for devices that can convert from laptops to tablets, according to Foley. Possibly, it may include integration of Cortana, which is Microsoft's voice-responsive personal assistant application.

Also, Microsoft may start releasing Windows 10 updates on a monthly basis.

Foley's sources told her that Microsoft plans to produce a "mobile SKU" of Window 10 that will work not just on ARM devices, but also on Intel's less powerful x86 chips. She wrote today that this mobile version is alleged to being capable only of running Windows Store Apps (also known as "Metro" apps) and that it will lack a traditional desktop user interface.

Microsoft has been mum on the mobile details of Windows 10 so far. It didn't release a public preview version of Windows 10 for ARM devices back in October. However, company officials have been clear in their communications that Windows 10 will be designed to work across PCs, tablets and smartphones, in various form factors, with plans to eventually supplant Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system. The aim is to allow developers to create so-called "universal apps" that will run across various devices supporting Windows 10.

Windows 10 Roadmap
Some official Microsoft roadmap information about Windows 10 was described this month by Kevin Turner, Microsoft's COO. He told Credit Suisse Technology Conference attendees that Windows 10 will be "the best enterprise release we've ever done." It will have the best of Windows 7's features, along with security, privacy and data protection enhancements, he said.

Microsoft expects to release Windows 10 by "late summer" or "early fall" 2015, but a so-called "developer preview" of Windows 10 will be available in early summer, according to Turner.

The Windows 10 features that have been announced so far include a revamped Start Menu, an improved Snap capability for running programs side by side and the ability to run Windows Store apps in movable windows. But Microsoft also has talked a lot about the new Windows Store enabled by Windows 10. It will open up management perks for IT pros.

IT pros running Microsoft Azure Active Directory will have access to a Web-based Windows Store portal, allowing them to acquire apps and assign them to end users. Larger organizations will be able to add their own line-of-business apps to the portal by sideloading them, while smaller organizations will be able to create a private section within the Windows Store for their apps.

Organizations will be able to use System Center Configuration Manager, Microsoft Intune or third-party mobile device management solutions to manage apps in the new Windows Store, including options for controlling when updates occur and managing software licenses.

The Windows segment now constitutes the third largest money generator for Microsoft, behind its Office and its enterprise software operations, according to Turner. Microsoft now intends to monetize Windows by selling associated services, Turner said. He added that this particular business model would get explained further in the spring and summer of 2015.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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