Will Windows 10 be the best ever? Not if Windows Phone is involved…

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Will Windows 10 be the best ever? Not if Windows Phone is involved...It already feels as though Windows 10 has been with us forever. The Technical Preview has already been updated a few times, and it’s only a few hours until the Windows 10 Consumer Preview is unleashed on the world. Is the world ready? Or perhaps the question should be is Windows 10 ready?

The preview builds we’ve seen thus far have been underwhelming to the point of tedium. On the whole things work very much as you would expect, but there is really very little that’s news. If we’re honest, the Windows 10 we have been treated to so far has been little more than Windows 8.1 with a few nips and tucks. Of course, there is the promise of much more to come…

There’s Cortana, the notification centre, Continuum and a few other bits and pieces. Windows Insiders have been encouraged to provide feedback that will help to shape the future direction of Windows, but is Microsoft really listening to the feedback it gets from beta testers or are they just being fobbed off? Testers have already been ‘thanked’ for all of the work they’ve done — if you can call three wallpapers a thanks. It’s easy to be cynical, but the Consumer Preview will be the first chance we have to see if any real progress has been made.

What is concerning is the suggestion that Windows 10 for desktops, laptops and tablets is going to merge paths with Windows Phone. Unless this is tackle very carefully indeed, it’s a car crash waiting to happen. We’ve already seen that Windows 10 has a few irritating little quirks — which will hopefully be ironed out — but anything that brings Windows 10 closer to the abomination that is Windows Phone is a mistake.

Short of starting completely from scratch, Windows Phone is a dead end. It’s easy to joke about the lack of apps, lack of interest from hardware manufacturers and lack of sales, but numbers talk — and they are low. Sure, there are spikes of interest in certain parts of the world, but overall Microsoft finds itself trailing a very distant third in the mobile market. To consider bringing a mobile operating system with such a tiny user base any closer to Windows seems like insanity, partly if it means compromises have to be made on the desktop side of things.

What’s funny is that Windows 10 Technical Preview has proved incredibly popular. Even with the relatively small number of changes that have been made, it still has fans. For a preview it is remarkably stable, and it’s possible that it has won fans simply because — even though it’s not all that impressive when looked at objectively — it’s still an improvement on Windows 8.1 Update.

Hopefully, what we see in the Consumer Preview will show that this is more than a service pack. My fear is that too much emphasis will be placed on integration with Windows Phone, as this would be a mistake. The Windows Phone ecosystem just isn’t ready.

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