Technology moves increasingly fast and it's not just people who find it difficult to keep up - even the companies that make the tech find it hard, and get left behind.

Take Microsoft for example: last week, Windows 10 was officially sent out into the world to find its feet with customers of all kinds.

It's a big world too: doesn't matter how you look at it, Microsoft's Windows operating system has been an incredible success that's found everywhere, from homes to small and large business, to governments, banks, and automated teller machines - just about everywhere.

The Windows 10 launch event in Sydney was a quite low-key with no surprises, with the Microsofties in attendance generally being pleased with the new operating system that seeks to excise some of the unpopular changes it made to its star product, in version 8.

Photos / Juha Saarinen, NZ Herald
Photos / Juha Saarinen, NZ Herald

Windows 10 has a Start menu, not the Windows 8 Start screen and tiles that confused and alienated users coming from Windows XP and Windows 7, and there's a new, fast web browser to replace Internet Explorer, the Edge. No, I don't think Microsoft likes U2 as much as Apple does, so it's named after a certain guitarist.

Under the new and no longer very radical user interface - and I think Microsoft has got the style of Win10 down rather nicely - there's plenty of new stuff. Gamers will be curious about the DirectX 12 set of application programming interfaces that promise to be anywhere between 20 to 30 per cent faster than its predecessors and provide new features for developers wanting to add more realism.

DirectX 12 will be Win10 only, too. And yeay, virtual desktops are now built into Windows 10, which is a great feature for people like yours truly who keep lots of apps open on the same computer.

Cortana, Microsoft's answer to Apple's personal digital assistant Siri isn't yet out of the door for our part of the world (pity), but the Device Guard feature that blocks so-called zero day attacks and other security features are, ditto the Windows Hello biometric login that can scan your face, iris of the eye, or fingerprints, provided your computer supports it.

Having used Windows 10 on and off as part of the Windows Insider preview programme, I've watched it take shape and it's now feels fast, reasonably stable (albeit not bug free); if you're the cautious sort, wait a few months for promised bugfixes and new hardware drivers, but otherwise, the upgrade is worth it even on modestly powerful computers.

Businesses will find lots to like in Windows 10 too, with improved manageability, being able to select an updates track that provides security patches but no new features, and generally a much more flexible operating system for desktops and laptops.

If Windows 10 had arrived a few years ago instead of Windows 8, users would've been rapt. Then again, had Windows 8 not been launched to universal dismay, Win10 would most likely never have seen the day, so that's kind of a moot point.

It's 2015 however, and the world's a different place now where users prefer mobile devices and increasingly use cloud computing. Microsoft's done well in the latter area, building up the Azure platform to take on the likes of Google and Amazon Web Services, but failed totally in mobility.


Analyst Benedict Evans at Silicon Valley venture capitalists Andreessen Horowitz illustrated what's going on in a blog post recently:


Microsoft has not been playing in the smartphone market which kicked off in 2007, and has skyrocketed since and it's killing Windows.

Even though Windows 10 has had a tremendous start, with at somewhere between 14 to 20 million installs currently all eyes will be on what Microsoft does in mobile.

Although Nokia's handset division is written off, Microsoft has not thrown in the towel on mobile and is talking about releasing new devices, maybe even a Surface Phone that will run Windows 10 Mobile.

Windows 10 Mobile is still in the works, and not released yet. Microsoft knows that it has to get the mobile variant of Windows 10 right and make it work well with its desktop cousin, if either's to stand a chance against Google's Android or Apple's iOS/OS X.

It's unlikely there will be another chance for Microsoft, if it fails again to capture mobile users.

Juha Saarinen attended the regional launch of Windows 10 as a guest of Microsoft New Zealand.