Is Windows 10 really as new as Microsoft would have you believe?

Now that that the newest versions of the two major operating systems are being launched, it is time to sit back and let fanaticism aside (as it’s growing with the arrival of the new features of Windows 10). Many will attack OS X El Capitan claiming that it does not advance, while Microsoft really does. Others will say that El Capitan is a major change with respect to Yosemite, and much better than Windows 10.

Both views are wrong, because if something the history of operating systems has taught us is that eventually everyone will end up copying from each other. And that’s something that benefits users. In this article I will dispel some points that Microsoft is using to prove their superiority, which are being preached by its fans.

Windows 10

A Convergence which is really not

Microsoft has become a champion of convergence. They indicate that Windows 10 is the same for all devices, and from a technical point of view this is not true. A clear example: can you use your desktop Windows 10 on a smartphone? The answer is no.

Well, obviously that already breaks the alleged total convergence of Windows 10. If I can’t install it on my Raspberry Pi without having to wait for a specific version, it means that it is not an operating system that can run on any device. If I can’t use it in my Android phone, then it’s not an operating system for any type of device.

A progress that has been made with Windows 10 it is that Microsoft finds it easier to bring the features of the operating system to other devices. And some more. Microsoft engineers have to keep creating specific versions for each processor type (x86, ARM) and for each type of device (tablets, convertibles, desktop, internet of things).

Apple’s stance is that every operating system needs to be optimized for each platform. For example watchOS is a watered down version of IOS, and the IOS 9 for tablets is different from the one in smartphones, though virtually identical.

What is clear is that Microsoft wants to fool the non- skilled with the word convergence, when in fact it has the same convergence as IOS-OS X-watchOS. Not even Ubuntu provides that convergence that Microsoft trumpeted that it is actually impossible to get it today.

Windows 10

An application for any platform is not really new

This is another point that Microsoft wants to shove to end users and tech noobs. Microsoft has separated fairly well, almost all the logic of an application on the visual part. Exactly as the development of iOS-OS X has been doing it for years. I mean, Microsoft is just copying Apple on that sense.

The Xcode for iOS projects have the ability to create different views depending on whether you want compatibility with iPad and the various iPhone screen sizes (3,5 ‘, 4’, 4,7’, 5,5”). If you are a good programmer, you will leave the logic of the application out, quite separate, and since OS X and iOS share libraries and their way of working, it will not be difficult to adapt an application iOS to OS X. With some nuances.

Windows 10 makes this separation of logic and display, but it still requires the developer to make the appropriate adjustments in the logic. For example, a list screen on a phone will not generate the same information that on a PC (It may display more information in the list and further related information), then the developer will have to make sure it is not generating more information than necessary for your phone and not impact the battery consumption. So that thing of “program logic once, use it everywhere" has neither feet nor head, unless you really let Microsoft fool you.

Windows 10

Universal applications store and export feature from Android and IOS

The Universal applications store is not really something important in Apple ecosystem. You have access to OS X App Store for applications, and if you want music, video, podcasts and iOS applications, you go to iTunes. From iTunes website you can also consult the entire catalog regardless of platform. Nothing too complicated, with everything in its place.

Windows Store is a new store for all content, which actually resembles iTunes: you can have your section of music, video and applications, all rolled into one. Well, it’s about time they did.

Microsoft also wants to make it easy, in the light of the failure of certain key applications, that developers can port their applications to Android and iOS to the new Windows 10 system. There is nothing automatic about it because the developer will have to continue adapting to each type of device, but at least this is a progress.

As we developers know, this is nothing new. There are many development environments, such as C++, in which you can later export applications to Android, iOS, Windows Phone, OS X, etc. It’s absolutely nothing new and that will not change anything in the current situation. We will still need to tweak things in this process, as we need to take them to Windows 10.

Windows 10

Many features, not all useful or new

But don’t misinterpret this article. All new Windows 10 changes seem great, but being misunderstood may encourage fanaticism of those who worship Windows or those who attack OS X simply for sport.

Windows 10 still has much room for improvement, but Microsoft has achieved an extraordinary amount of publicity, based on pure rumors and speculation that need to be clarified so you can have an informed view of what is Windows 10, and not fall in ridiculous comparisons with OS X El Capitan (or Linux distributions).

*Nix systems have had for years / decades virtual desktops, a powerful command line (Belfiore presenting the copy-paste in Windows Terminal as something revolutionary made me have to pinch myself in disbelief), and have been highly stable systems since before Windows, and more.

Windows 10 is a novelty in its own way because it is disclaimed from Windows 8 and takes up the spirit of previous versions. But most features are not new and simply put Windows 10 in the line of the competition.

The integration with Cortana may be fine, but not all computers have microphone to take advantage of it, and that greatly limit its success in PCs. With touch screens on a laptop it still seems to have a marginal benefit, and on desktops it seems impractical.

Now, everyone is lulled into fanaticism /hate with Microsoft / Apple as they want. I personally use both Windows and OS X (and Ubuntu to a lesser extent), I am delighted with all, but for work I need to use a powerful terminal to install application servers and many other programs that are not in Windows or that are not handled easily (the WAMP is a bad joke if you know how to handle the console). And by developing in Xcode it is necessary to use a Mac (with hackintosh).

Obviously in terms of games, as much as Metal drivers bring a ray of hope to OS X in this field as a real alternative to OpenGL, Direct3D 12 will be insurmountable in terms of support from developers. But then, what is not often said is that only the most skilled programmers in graphics will be able to use DirectX 12, because these are really complex libraries that allow total freedom to the developer, minimizing the automation of certain complex tasks and giving more control to the developer of what happens on the graphics card.

Not all development studies, especially the small ones, have or will have the people and expertise to exploit DirectX 12 in their games. That will make them to still use DirectX 11 in the near future. This is a matter that will also depend on how much it will be supported by engines like Unity or Unreal Engine, but developers will have to work hard in the end product to fully adapt to DirectX 12 and the new effects APIs.

Not everything is black or white, and there are so many half-truths to what is being said of Windows 10 you better take what Microsoft (or Apple for that matter) says with a grain of salt. Otherwise, I am personally delighted with the news of Windows 10 and OS X El Capitan, and let’s see where they take us in 2016.

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