While it's fair to say that Windows 8 wasn't a cartwheeling success, that's not stopped the world from shifting forward to the edge of its seat in anticipation for the launch of Windows 10.
At 18:00 BST tonight, Microsoft will lift the lid on Windows 9 as a "technical preview." This is a beta version that will be made available to eager tech enthusiasts who want to experience the latest Washington-based company can offer as the surprises are pulled out its billowing sleeves.
Updated regularly, the new OS will be constantly stocked in the coming months with new features ahead of its full-scale roll out scheduled for 2015.
Intriguingly, the rumour mill seems to think Microsoft will cater specifically to business and enterprise customers with its new OS. The colourful, consumer centric tiles of Windows 8 alienated a broad swathe of the enterprise market, and it looks like Microsoft wants to rectify that
Aside from answering questions of whether Windows 10 will herald the rebirth of the much-mourned Start Menu, tonight should also reveal the official name of Microsoft's OS.
Still, as Shakespeare once said, "an operating system by any other name will still smell as sweet," and no amount of rebranding will be able to cover the fact that tonight is Microsoft's big chance to prove to loyal Windows users that things are changing.
We'll be covering the San Francisco event live tonight 10:00 Pacific / 11:00 Mountain / 12:00 Central / 18:00 BST, so be sure to tune back then for full coverage and analysis of Microsoft's event as it unfolds.
So to clear up for those who are confused, you'll only be able to download a technical preview, or "Beta" version of Windows 10 ahead of its full roll-out next year. You can find out how to be part of that testing program and download Windows 10 here.
So what do people think? Hot or a flop?
And on that note, we wrap! Time to go leave sticky fingerprints all over Windows 10 - we cannot wait.
"Probably not" is the response. Microsoft probably won't be releasing bendy Windows Phones any time soon either.
Cheeky journalist who asked that is looking very smug.
"Now it's Windows 10, will we see future versions named after big cats?"
A decade worth of support? Maybe THAT'S why they called it Windows 10....
"There's these different devices in the Windows world. One of the things we offer for enterprises is a mission critical level of support. Microsoft will support them for a long time. We have ways to support our products for well north of 10 years."
Ooo the million dollar question: "How long will Windows 10 last?"
Looks like heavy traffic is bringing down Microsoft's website for some people. Talk about your hug of death...
The mobile and ARM tablet OS is being built alongside the X86 code, but there's no word on whether they'll launch together. Microsoft also acknowledges that not all Windows users will upgrade to the latest version of Windows, and that backwards compatibility is important.
Talking about release schedules now.
So basically Microsoft wants to address the issues big businesses are facing with having to manage a diverse workforce that's packed with different mobile devices. It sounds like it wants to end that diversity by making Windows Phones running a Windows OS the go-to product for company employees, thus encouraging synch with their desktop workspaces.
Microsoft is dropping official press material now: looks like they're really going for this "one OS, many platforms" thing after the failure of Windows RT...
"We hear people saying, we have this giant problem of diverse base of mobile devices we have to manage.If you look at Windows 8 users on touch devices, they have higher satisfaction than those on Windows 7 devices. Windows 7 users have higher satisfaction on mouse and keyboard devices than Windows 8."
"We don't hear pushback that we don't like Live Tiles. We hear pushback about too much training."
The questions are turning back to Windows 10's business focus: "When it comes to your enterprise customers about Windows 10. How big has the push back been to get Windows away from Live Tiles, back to Windows 7 stuff?"
It might be because they famously missed the boat with mobile, and Windows Phone suffered greatly as a consequence. If they feel hybrid devices could take over, they'll likely shout about it to avoid being shucked to the bottom of the pile again.
Microsoft's focus on convertible devices (alongside Intel) is a funny one. We have to say we absolutely loved the Surface Pro 3 when we got our paws on it, but Microsoft is REALLY pushing its Surface range as the future of computing.
For those of you that may have missed it, here's another look at the Windows 10 tiled menu.
It argues that having "that core common code makes developers more efficient. As long as we do the right tailoring and we feel like we're on the right track."
Microsoft is stressing that its team is focussed on building common technology that's shared across all devices.
"You're likely to be an owner of both devices. The real rub comes in the middle...convertible devices. There's a lot of magic in the devices that can be a great laptop and also flexes to be a tablet."
Belfiore: "Part of the reason we organized the way we did, is there will be champions of every device type. It was intentional to put together the PC, tablet, phone. Similar capabilities, but at the end they differ."
The answer? "We're building a platform that scales, from small devices all the way up to Azure."
It's an apt ask - from Windows Phone, to tablets, to desktop PCs, Microsoft has its fingers in many pies.
Another interesting question about the challenges of building a platform across all devices.
Comment on this article:
"Considering that every even numbered Windows OS has been [REDACTED], I am not very optimistic for Windows 10."
Windows 10 is coming"After the Build conference, mid next year"...
Myerson answers: "This product - when you see the product in full I think you'll agree with us that it's a more appropriate name."
So basically brushing off that question?
Someone inevitably asks about the name: "Seems weird going from Windows 8 to Windows 10."
Another look at that all-important start menu...
Now moving onto the Q&A - that was quick, Microsoft!
We're going to see Windows 10 shipping "later in the year" in 2015, according to Microsoft.
"Early next year we'll start talking much more about the consumer story.At our Build conference in April, we'll share more about Universal apps."
Technical Preview build for servers will follow soon after, apparently...
Basically, the Start Screen will remain in all its tiled glory, but (and this is crucial) it will come and go depending on whether you're using Windows 10 with a touch-enabled device or not.
"Starting tomorrow we're going to launch our Windows Insider Program, a technical preview build for laptops and desktops.We're inviting our enthusiastic fans to evaluate it with us. We know they're a vocal bunch."
Now there's a lot of talk about a new "continuum." It's a little hazy, but we think the general deal is that while Microsoft is indeed celebrating touch functionality, it's balancing Windows 10's UI with fresh support for keyboard and mouse users.
Terry Myerson is back on stage...
Buuuut.... we're still getting the charm bar? Damn you, Microsoft!
We'd be very surprised if he'd said the opposite...
"With Windows 10, we think we have a better approach."
"The way we're going to evolve this touch UI, I expect the Charms bar to change..."
"In Windows 10, when you swipe in from the left, you get a task view." In his demo, we can see that this new task view is going to be larger with more touch friendly buttons.
"In Windows 10, when you swipe in from the left, you get a task view."
So Windows 8-esque touch functionality isn't completely dead in Microsoft's grand plan.
Bear in mind this is a Beta version of Windows 10, and Belfiore is referencing that. He says that Microsoft is fully intending to evolve the OS's touch user interface, so he expects that "Charms Bar will change."
Onto the (divisive) Windows Charms Bar.
And as Corporate Vice President of Microsoft operating systems, Joe Belfiore knows his stuff. He's making some pretty bold claims, like "Windows 10 is going to be our greatest enterprise platform ever."
Joe Belfiore is taking us through a full-on demo of Windows 10...
Microsoft power users are going to go crazy for this stuff....
Apparentlythere's a new "Snap Assist" UI at the side where you can grab apps from multiple desktops... cool!
For anyone whose main hanguparound Windows is lack of virtual desktops: Windows 10 has them. Good news!
Head on over to join the conversation!
By the way, the debate is really hotting up in the comments section of this article:3 reasons that Windows 9 will fail
Though an "improvement," this is kind of a step backwards - you could search in exactly that manner back in the days of Windows Vista, but Microsoft removed it for Windows 8. Thank God Start Menu search has returned once more.
The search menu has also been improved, meaning you can now enjoy a universal search function straight from the Start menu.
Microsoft is really pushing personalisation as a key feature of Windows 10. We saw the beginnings of it in Windows 8 with the colourful tile system, but being able to customise the selection of menus means that the new operating system takes it to the next level.
The new Start Menu will be customisable, so you can resize it, decide what applications are in it and so on.
Although we're getting a modernised start menu - so... that's good?
There IS a Start Menu though! The audience are gripping their chairs to stop themselves doing cartwheels.
Windows 10 also has the same live tiles from Windows 8. Disappointed anyone?
Ok we'll stop with the terrible jokes now. Back to business. Which is what Microsoft is also turning its attentions to - Windows 10 is all about the enterprise.
Feeling pretty sorry for the number 9 right now. It's like the little kid left out of the Microsoft party, standing outside with its breath misting up the Window (get it? Window??)
Interesting how Microsoft are jumping straight into the enterprise side of Windows 10. Obviously really pushing it as a solid enterprise option...
"Windows 10 will be compatible with all the traditional management systems used today..."
Well that's a... relief?
When it comes to Windows, it looks like 7 8 9...
"Enterprises need to evaluate Windows early, and we're starting our dialogue with them today."
"We're delivering one application platform.One store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices..."
Looks like Microsoft is down-the-barrel serious about calling it Windows 10!
"Windows 10 will run on the broadest types of devices ever."
"It unlocks new experiences to allow customers to work play and connect."
I literally read a parody article about this the other day:
"That new Windows is Windows 10."
So apparently they wanted to call it "Windows One" to fit with the One Drive series. "But Windows 1 has already been done".
Of course, we saw Tony back at Microsoft's Build conference this year - he's no stranger to the spotlight.
"It wouldn't be right to call it Windows 9!"
Classic Microsoft. Always with the mobile first, cloud first.
"Our new Windows must be built from the group up, for a mobile-first, cloud-first world."
He said THRESHOLD!
"Windows is at a threshold and now it's time for a new Windows."
"For one audience the world still hasn't changed, and that's our developers. Still too much to do and not enough time!"
Anyone out there hear that?
Myerson:"Devices now outnumber people."
That's a lot of people. Will that number increase with Windows 9?
According to him, there's about one and a half billion people using Windows today.
Terry Myerson, Executive VP of Windows Operating Systems, has taken to the stage.
The Wi-Fi password is "Windows2015" - does that mean Windows 9 is coming in 2015?
Microsoft has just asked everyone to take their seats. Looks like things are about to kick off - cue a lot of nervous finger stretches from journalists prepping their keyboards.
A resounding 98 per cent of you said you were excited about this year's launch, with only 2 per cent put off by the mixed reviews Windows 8 received when it launched back in 2012. Will Microsoft exceed expectations?
There are Windows signs everywhere though. This is reassuring. We are definitely covering the right event.
Clearly, the only appropriate attire for the launch of a new operating system is all-black. Our bad, we didn't get the memo.
The outside of the Microsoft event, with suitably serious-looking bouncers...
As Shakespeare once said, "an operating system by any other name will still smell as sweet..."
So is it Windows, Windows 9, or Windows TH? We'll find out tonight! Stay tuned, UK Microsoft fans!
Do you know what to expect in Windows 9? Check out our full guide on what we already know for more.
With all the changes coming in Windows 9, it's easy to forget the humble origins of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system. Let's get all nostalgic and take a look back at where it all began: with Window 1.0.
Just a half hour to go! Everyone excited? Don't forget to stop by and chat to us onITProPortal's tech talk live chatand share your thoughts as the launch unfolds...
It seems that not everyone on the team is convinced about Windows 9. Staff writer Sam Pudwell has identified three reasons why he thinks it will fail.
T-minus 1 hour folks until launch - be sure to keep checking back for updates.
It's not all about desktop though. Windows Phone 8.1 (the first version of Microsoft's mobile OS to feature Cortana) only launched in April, but could today mark our first glimpse of what Windows Phone 9 could offer?
Check out this leaked video showing Windows 9's rumoured new Action Notification Centre in... well, action.
With all the changes coming in Windows 9, it's easy to forget the humble origins of Microsoft's ubiquitous operating system. Let's take a look back at where it all began: with Window 1.0.
We've taken the liberty of knocking up a quick comparison of what we already know about Windows 9 vs. its predecessor, Windows 8. Who comes out on top?
Looks like you guys are overwhelmingly optimistic - and rightly so. From what leaks we've seen already, Windows 9 looks like a real gamechanger.
It's just over three hours to go now until we'll get our first glimpse of the new operating system. Are you excited to see what Microsoft has to offer or are you bracing yourself for another disappointment?
However, it might be that Microsoft just decides to disable that function for PC users of Windows 9. After all, it is a useful menu for those that do use Windows on a touchscreen device. It would be a shame to banish it completely.
A criticism of Windows 8 was that it just wasn't optimised for PC users, favouring touchscreen tablet owners instead. Rumours have been spreading that Microsoft will be getting rid of the Charms Bar (that little menu that pops over from the right) in Windows 9, since it can be difficult to call up using a mouse pointer.
Plenty of information has leaked online in recent months about the upcoming Windows operating system, including the return of the Start Menu (see picture below) which should combine retro Windows 7 design with Windows 8 Start Screen functionality.
And here are some more tantalising screenshots!
Here are a couple of things we know about Windows 9, so you know what to expect going into the launch.
For anyone who's curious, here's the official invite to tonight's event - it stands as cryptic confirmation that Microsoft means business. Literally.
It's great news for anyone whose pennies are truly pinched, but it does not answer the question of whether this generosity will stretch to Windows 7 or Windows Vista users. If it did, it would certainly be a clever way of getting as many users as possible onto the latest version of Windows.
According to the Indonesian news site Detik, the Indonesian president of Microsoft Indonesia, Andreas Diantoro, has confirmed that Windows 9 will be a free upgrade to all existing Windows 8 users.
So what do we already know?
But could the pressure actually be a good thing? You could say thatWindows 9 will shine because of Windows 8's failings.
Still, there's a lot of pressure riding on Windows 9's young shoulders, not least of which because the reception of its predecessor was so mixed.
What we DO know is that Microsoft's newest operating system will be targeting business. The official event invites call on journalists to head to San Francisco to "hear about what's next for Windows and the enterprise" - so that's exactly what we're doing.
The day is here! In just over six hours Microsoft will lift the lid on what's being currently referred to as "Windows 9," but could theoretically be called any number of things. "Windows Threshold," Windows TH," "Duncan..." The possibilities are endless.