Microsoft announces Windows 10
Microsoft has announced the latest version of its Windows operating system, called Windows 10, at an event in San Francisco.
Terry Myerson, Windows chief said: "There's about one and a half billion people using Windows today. Devices outnumber people. Windows is at a threshold and now it's time for a new Windows.
"Our new Windows must be built from the ground up for a mobile first, cloud first world."
Microsoft says the new operating system will run on the "broadest types of devices ever" and sees the companies various app stores merged into one platform, called the One Store. This will cover all of the company's smartphones, tablets and desktop computers.
"Windows 10 will deliver the right experience, at the right time. Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform, ever ," said Mr Myerson.
"We're delivering one application platform. One store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased, and updated across all of these devices."
The technology giant had been expected to announce an update to its flagship Windows software after the previous upgrade, Windows 8, which saw a major overhaul of the interface and functionality, received mixed reviews within the user community.
Microsoft says its new version of Windows will be "familiar" and compatible with existing management systems already in use around the world.
Microsoft's Joe Belfiore said that the company was going "back to basics" with Windows 10, and confirmed that the famous Start menu, which was removed from Windows 8, would be returning.
"We're looking to find the balance, so that all the Windows 7 users get a familiar experience on the devices they already have," he said.
"It gives the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the elements of Windows 8."
The new Start Menu has the traditional list layout of previous versions of the interface, combined with the tile set-up that Microsoft introduced in Windows 8. Mr Belfiore demonstrated how the new tiles in the new menu can be personalised and re-sized.
The Bill Gates-founded company is pushing to challenge the likes of Apple across multiple platforms, but remains the market leader when it comes to desktop computing. The company has also launched a Windows Phone and Windows-powered tablet, the Surface, in recent years as they look to challenge the iPhone and iPad, as well as Google's Android platform.
Mr Belfiore also confirmed that Windows 10 would be compatible with both traditional and touch-based device users like tablets through a new task view with buttons scaled up so that they're more friendly to those on touchscreen devices. Users on hybrid devices like the Surface Pro tablet will be able to jump between and keyboard and touchscreen modes, with Microsoft demonstrating how the interface will change as you do.
Mr Myerson also announced the launch of the Windows Insider Program, which will allow Microsoft fans and users to get early versions of the new software and become part of the development team by testing Windows 10 and suggesting improvements. The service will launch tomorrow.
"We're inviting our enthusiastic fans to evaluate it with us. We know they're a vocal bunch."
Windows 10 was confirmed to launch "later in the year in 2015".