The wait is almost over. Windows 10, the latest version of Microsoft’s flagship operating system, will be available on July 29, 2015. On that date, all current Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free; this grace period will last one year. July 29 is also when it will be possible to buy a new PC with Windows 10 preinstalled. (The initial OS release will be limited to PCs and tablets; a Windows 10 upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 devices will vary by phone makers and carriers.)
Designed to run on what Microsoft calls its “broadest device family ever,” Windows 10 is compatible with PCs, tablets, phones, Internet of Things, Surface Hub, Xbox One, and HoloLens—”all working together to empower you to do great things,” wrote Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive vice president of operating systems, in a Windows blog post.
Windows 10 is slated to arrive nearly three years after the release of Windows 8, a controversial version of the OS that implemented a number of changes designed to improve interaction on mobile devices, and with apps. Though Windows 10 will roll back some of these for desktop and laptop owners, smartphone and tablet owners will still be able to easily interact via the touchenhanced Start environment.
This release also marks the return of the traditional desktop Start menu, and promises faster overall speed with quicker startup and resume times. Windows 10 is also, as the tech giant boasted, “the most secure platform ever.”
New features will include the Cortana digital assistant (Microsoft’s answer to Siri); the revamped Edge Web browser; Windows Hello, which provides secure logins via face, iris, or fingerprint reocgnition; the “Universal” app model, so apps can work on any device that’s capable of running Windows 10; thoroughly revamped photo, video, music, maps, people, mail, and calendar apps that work equally well on all devices and sync through OneDrive; and Continuum, for easily transitioning between desktop and mobile devices.
In addition, Windows 10 will be the last major official release of the operating system, though Microsoft promises there will be “new innovations” over time. “Like Windows 10 itself, these updates will be free for the supported lifetime of your device,” Myerson wrote.
Like many of its predecessors, Windows 10 will be available in several versions organized to better meet the needs of certain types of users. Windows 10 Home is the primary consumer-focused edition, offering all the new features in the familiar desktop environment. PCs running it will also have access to Xbox Live, where they can share gameplay and play Xbox One games from all Windows 10 PCs in the home. More advanced or business users will want to opt for Windows 10 Pro. In addition to what’s available in Home, it supplies additional functionality for managing and updating devices and apps, protecting sensitive data, and utilizing cloud technologies. Microsoft touts Pro as ideal for Choose Your Own Device organizations.
(Other Windows 10 versions will be optimized for users of consumer smartphones and tablets; desktop and mobile enterprise users; and educational users such as students, teachers, and staff and administrators.)
How Much Windows 10 Home Will Cost?
For those who need to buy a fresh copy of the operating system, such as those on an older machine running Windows XP or Vista or those who prefer to build their PCs from scratch, Windows 10 Home will be available for $119 and Windows 10 Pro for $199.
6 Features Disappearing In Windows 10
These are some of the more notable features from previous Windows versions that will not be included in Windows 10, though most will still be obtainable via third-party applications or manual update downloads.
- Windows Media Center
- DVD Playback
- Desktop Gadgets
- Minesweeper, Solitaire, Hearts
- Floppy Drive Support
- Windows Essentials’ OneDrive Application