This morning at a San Francisco press event, Microsoft's Windows Chief Terry Myerson announced that the next version of Windows would be called Windows 10. Like Windows 8 and 8.1 (which I guess was Windows 9), Windows 10 will be one operating system that runs on traditional desktop and laptop PCs, as well as touch-only and hybrid devices like tablets and Microsoft's own Surface. It will also be Microsoft's mobile OS, as well as their Enterprise OS.
For desktop Windows users, we'll see the long-awaited return of the Start Menu, with familiar functionality like pinned programs and system shortcuts, as well as Modern UI tiles nested alongside. It's an explicit callback to the features that Windows 7 users missed when Microsoft introduced the Start Screen--hence the 18% adoption rate of Windows 8 since it was released two years ago. For example, universal search is now back on the Desktop with the Start Menu, so users won't have to slide into the Start Screen to use it. Modern UI apps--now called Universal Apps--can run windowed on the Desktop, and snap alongside "Classic" programs.
Other new features include a Task View button that is the new equivalent of Alt-Tab/Windows-Tab. Running applications tile next to each other in a grid so you can see what you're running and switch to any app. It's a lot like OS X's Expose, which third-party apps like Switcher have been mimicking for years. Windows is also getting better multiple-Desktops support, a feature I use heavily on small-screen laptops like my MacBook Air. This will make the Surface Pro that much better.
Other features demoed today included a new Desktop Command Prompt (woo!), a new Start Screen mode, and improved app snapping. The Charms Bar is not going away.
Microsoft is releasing a Technical Preview of Windows 10 soon for Desktop and Laptop users--interested parties should register at the new Windows Insider website. Windows 10 will be released "later in the year" in 2015, after Microsoft's Build conference. Watch Microsoft's Joe Belfiore introduce Windows 10 in the video below: