Hardware Matters: How Device Design Will Play Into the Adoption of Windows 10
It’s hard to argue that when it was first released, Windows 8 threw consumers and businesses for a loop. However as the market has shifted and mobile workplaces become the standard, it turns out that Microsoft’s biggest offense may have simply been ahead of its time.
Windows 8 was designed with a touch-style interface in a world before tablets and 2-in-1 tablet/laptop devices were common in the business world. But today, the next generation of Microsoft operating systems, Windows 10, has the potential to become a much more aggressive player.
Offering mobility perks, security improvements, and a newly reappeared Start menu, Windows 10 is already garnering great reviews, particularly among the business community, which depends on mobility like never before. All of this – analysts predict – will lead to a more accelerated take up rate of the new OS.
This means that the first generation of Windows 10 devices has a great deal riding on it. Creating a Windows-10-optimized device takes a significant investment, and with the lifespan of a computer purchase lasting a few years, the manufacturer won’t get another chance to capture this market for a long time. Staggered adoption brings disparate experiences, which could make it tougher for the operating system to find its feet.
Without the right hardware devices, users might struggle to enjoy all of the productivity and user experience benefits instilled within the operating system (OS). To clear the lofty bar set by Microsoft and capture the captive audience of early adopters, hardware makers need to design for the platform, including a few key features:
The touch-style interface that was awkward for PCs is ideal for tablets, so Windows 10 machines will benefit from a two-in-one design that combines the performance and keyboard functions of a laptop with the touchscreen functionality of a tablet. Windows 10 offers separate laptop and tablet modes, and hardware manufacturers can bolster this feature by installing sensors that detect whether or not a keyboard is present so the OS can automatically shift between modes. With other tablet-ready actions, like the ability to hand write notes on web pages and share them with others, Windows 10 machines need to give users top-quality styluses, tablet functionality, and other physical options that back up the OS’s experiential flexibility.
Advanced Audio Quality
With Windows 10’s incorporation of Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana into PCs and tablets, audio quality has become more important than ever. Hardware designers should opt for high-quality speakers and microphones to make voice interaction natural and usable for users across devices.
Microsoft is expanding its gaming focus beyond the XBOX ecosystem with Windows 10’s DirectX 12 API and Game DVR features. This second feature enables gamers to capture moments from their game - victories, bloopers, and other interesting snippets - and send videos of those moments to friends. To support this major PC gaming opportunity, hardware makers will need to ensure their devices are able to handle the performance needs of resource-intensive PC games, notwithstanding the boost they’ll get from the DirectX 12 API.
Later in 2015: Intel 3D Cameras, Wireless Charging, and More
One of Windows 10’s new security functions, called Hello, uses facial recognition to authenticate users. Microsoft announced this technology would be supported by the Intel® RealSense™ 3D Camera , a sign that Microsoft might share Intel’s vision of a “ no-password ” user experience (another sign - the WiFi Sense [AM1] feature that allows users to share their password-protected WiFi with visitors without giving them their password). For device manufacturers to make a strong Windows 10 play later in the year, they’ll need to include not only the RealSense camera but other Intel technologies, including wireless charging and Skylake Core chips, which boost graphics and applications and improve battery life.
Microsoft is upping the stakes for hardware makers in a big way, and it’s an opportunity most can’t afford to miss out on. What the 2012 market lacked in demand for touchscreen and mobility, 2015 more than makes up for, with the widespread institutionalization of BYOD and the remote workforce.
Not only does the world look different than it did three years ago, Microsoft looks different as a company, and the full glory of its new service-based, free software model is realized in Windows 10.
There’s no question the world is ready for Windows 10. Now it’s up to hardware designers to make sure they are too.