I get asked by friends and family all the time – what is Windows 10?
I thought it would be fun to document everything we know about Microsoft’s next Operating System in one place, on one page.
So without further ado, here’s what we know about Windows 10 so far.
What is Windows 10?
Windows 10 is the most comprehensive and exhaustive overhaul of Microsoft’s Windows franchise in the history of the company. It is a complete rethinking of Windows partially in response to the poor reception Windows 8 got in the marketplace.
Microsoft’s definition is pretty cool. Here it is:
WINDOWS 10 (“WINDOWS”) IS A PERSONALIZED COMPUTING ENVIRONMENT THAT ENABLES YOU TO SEAMLESSLY ROAM AND ACCESS SERVICES, PREFERENCES AND CONTENT ACROSS YOUR COMPUTING DEVICES FROM PHONES TO TABLETS TO THE SURFACE HUB.
RATHER THAN RESIDING AS A STATIC SOFTWARE PROGRAM ON YOUR DEVICE, KEY COMPONENTS OF WINDOWS ARE CLOUD-BASED, AND BOTH CLOUD AND LOCAL ELEMENTS OF WINDOWS ARE UPDATED REGULARLY, PROVIDING YOU WITH THE LATEST IMPROVEMENTS AND FEATURES.
When will Windows 10 be available?
Windows 10 will be widely available on July 29th, 2015. Microsoft will begin releasing the Operating System to the general public in phases in an attempt to deal with several hundred million anticipated downloads.
How will Windows 10 be distributed?
The Operating System will be available via Microsoft’s Windows Update service in Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.
What will Windows 10 cost when it is released?
For the first 12 months after Windows 10 is released, users on Windows 8.1, Windows 7 and Windows Phone 8.1 can get Windows 10 as a free lifetime software upgrade.
There is some controversy regarding what that actually means but in general, if you take advantage of the free offer within 12 months, you will not have to pay for Windows on the PC or tablet you are upgrading ever again.
- Windows 10 Home will cost $119.
- Windows 10 Professional will cost $199
- The Windows 10 Pro Pack, which is the pack that upgrades Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro will cost $99.
How many versions of Windows 10 are there?
There are 7 versions of Windows 10.
- Windows 10 Home
- Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 10 Education
- Windows 10 Enterprise
- Windows 10 Mobile
- Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise
- Windows 10 for IOT
To get more detail, head to our Windows 10 Versions page.
Will there be a preview version of Windows 10?
There have been several “previews” of Windows 10 so far. Now Windows 10 previews are called “builds” and are released to Windows 10 Insiders.
What is the Windows 10 Insider Program?
The Windows Insider program is run by Microsoft and allows users to sign up for early builds of the Windows operating system previously only accessible to developers.
It was announced on September 30, 2014 along with Windows 10. Currently, the program has almost 6 million members.
You can sign up for the Windows Insider Program here.
What are some of the UI changes made to Windows 10?
The Start menu is back and comes with some new features. It comes first with the ability to be resized along with the Live Tiles within.
The Start menu also features empowered search capabilities as well, able to crawl your entire machine, not to mention web results via Bing.
The traditional Windows 7 Snap View works in Windows 10’s desktop mode with classic and universal apps, enhanced by a new “Snap Assist” interface.
Snap Assist works in tandem with Task View, a new feature that allows users to create multiple desktop environments within a single instance of Windows 10.
You can also now grab apps from different desktops and group them together using the Snap Assist UI, all of which is mouse or touch controlled.
What is Microsoft’s vision for the complete ecosystem?
Microsoft is looking to see Windows 10 transform the Windows franchise. They are looking to have Windows 10 be seamless across Desktops, Laptops, 2 in 1 systems, Phones, Tablets and all devices we use from day to day.
They even want Windows 10 to be in office hardware (See the Surface Hub) and Xbox.
What about Windows 10 and Holographs?
During its January 21 event, Microsoft revealed Windows Holographic and Microsoft HoloLens, a brand new headset and hologram system designed to blow the concept of augmented reality wide open.
Every Windows 10 device will support holographic computing APIs.
Windows Holographic is Microsoft holographic computing platform, while HoloLens is the proof-of-concept for the firm’s holographic computing initiative. The company built a brand new holographic processing unit (HPU) to process terabytes of data from every sensor packed into the HoloLens.
Through the HPU, HoloLens can run completely independent of any other device. Microsoft demonstrated the technology on stage, creating a 3D model using holograms and later 3D printing that exact specification. There was no word on when HoloLens will launch and how much it will cost, but Microsoft promised that it will be ready for the public launch of Windows 10.
What is Cortana in Windows 10?
Windows 10 will see the spread of Cortana, Microsoft’s Siri and Google Now competitor, into all versions of the new OS, including desktops, laptops and tablets. Microsoft’s Joe Belfiore showed off the new PC-centric features within Cortana during its January 21 reveal event.
Cortana will be a digital assistant to help you with easier access to files, apps and more.
What are Windows 10 Universal Apps?
Microsoft is developing special versions of its key apps, like Office, for Windows 10 phones and tablets under 8 inches.
Apps like Word, PowerPoint, Excel and Outlook will look and feel nearly identical to their desktop counterparts, but be optimized for touch and screen size. And through Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure, all of your files will be accessible through those devices regardless of where it was created.
Following the January 21 event, Microsoft went on to confirm that its most important suite of Universal apps, Office 2016, will launch in the second half of 2015. This potentially puts Office 2016 ahead of Windows 10 in terms of release.
What is Continuum in Windows 10?
During it’s January 21 event, Microsoft demonstrated its “continuum” approach to computing with Windows 10.
Continuum is designed to adapt Windows to the form factor of the hardware it is running on.
As an example with a Surface Pro 3. When the tablet is connected to its keyboard cover, the Surface Pro 3 acts as if it is a laptop, which it technically is. Then, as soon as the keyboard is removed, a small icon appears in the lower right of the screen, asking whether you would like to activate tablet mode.
Doing so changes all of the apps to full screen, making icons slightly larger and allowed users to access the Start screen a la Windows 8, albeit much updated. As soon as you reconnect the keyboard, the device offers to revert back to its original mode.
What is Spartan in Windows 10?
Project Spartan as it is called is the company’s revamp of Internet Explorer.
Some of the features of this new browser are:
- The ability to mark up webpages before sharing them with others
- The ability to comment on those same pages at the software level.
- Built-in offline reading and PDF support
- Built-in Cortana support and Integration
Spartan is not a replacement for Internet Explorer, but rather a second browser. Microsoft have explained that while Spartan will work with the rest of the web, IE11 will be kept for compatibility with legacy and enterprise websites.
What is Xbox integration in Windows 10?
There will be an Xbox app on Windows 10.
The app collects all games played on any Xbox or Windows 10 device, a universal friends list and an activity feed. Every Windows 10 device will have the Xbox app pre-loaded.
Users will be able to record game sessions through the Game DVR tool and share them across the Xbox network. Essentially, Windows 10 will bring the automated recording featured in Xbox One to games played on Windows 10 – even those launched through other apps, like Steam.
There will also be the ability to stream any Xbox One game to any Windows 10 device from within the home over Wi-Fi. The
What will Enterprise Licensing look like in Windows 10?
As we detailed here, Microsoft issued its plans for rolling out Windows 10 to enterprise users: through Windows Software Assurance program.
While this program will offer several methods for enterprise users to upgrade their fleets of systems to the new OS, that also means it will not come free like it does for consumer versions of Windows 10.
The SA program is designed to give enterprise customers more control over when and how updates are pushed to their range of machines. Of course, the idea here is a focus on security and flexibility for IT through additional Long Term Servicing branches that provide security and critical updates only – barring new feature updates.
What about Windows 10 and the Internet of Things?
Based on CEO Satya Nadella’s recent comments during Gartner’s Symposium ITxpo in October 2014, Windows 10 is almost certainly being developed with the Internet of Things in mind.
“Windows 10 is a very important step for us.” Nadella said on stage. “It’s the first step in a new generation of Windows as opposed to just another release after Windows 8. General purpose computing is going to run on 200 plus billion sensors. We’ve architected Windows where it can run on everything.”
Microsoft is playing the long game with Windows 10 and will be looking to make sure that all devices that can connect to the web have some ability to interact with a Windows 10 device.
What are some of the rumored changes that are rumored to be coming with Windows 10?
This is where the internet goes a little crazy. Here are some of the rumored changes Windows 10 is bringing:
The blending of the desktop and the modern UI
Apparently, Microsoft are planning to further merge the Desktop and Modern UI. Simply put, Microsoft will allow Modern UI apps to run in the desktop, in windowed mode, and have Modern UI apps pinned to the Start Menu instead of a Start Screen.
Some of this work has begun with Windows 8.1 and may continue with subsequent updates before Windows 10.
A new/refined start button
The controversy over the disappearance of the start button was a big part of the furor and uproar over Windows 8. There is speculation that Microsoft will bring it back in the desktop versions of Windows 10, more refined and better.
Radically redesigned UI
I doubt that 100%. Windows 10 is the gentle unwinding of Windows 8, emphasis on the word gentle. Microsoft will be looking to do very little harm with this upgrade. I believe there will be subtle changes but nothing aggressive.
Deeper integration with Bing
I believe this will be true. Microsoft continues to go all in with Bing and I think Windows 10 will be no exception. There will be many opportunities in the next version of Windows for Microsoft to integrate search into the Operating System.
Deeper integration with Azure for Cloud Storage
I believe that Microsoft will continue the push to leverage Azure for cloud storage. Microsoft may actually integrate parts of the Operating System into the cloud for document/file storage.
Improved Power Management
This is expected. Microsoft has done a great job with Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 with power management. Expect Microsoft to make the OS even more efficient in the next version of Windows.
Deeper Kinect/Gesture integration
It makes sense that Microsoft may try and push the envelope with gesture recognition in Windows 10. I would expect that the company would push beyond the initial forays made in Windows 8.1 (specifically the Cooking application). Gesture based computing would be huge if they could pull it off.
I fully expect better security options in Windows 10 including fingerprint recognition. Microsoft do a great job with security and continue to lock down Windows with every major release.
64 Bit only?
This is the enduring urban legend. For the past 6 years, we have speculated that Microsoft would move to 64 bit exclusively. I doubt that will happen in this release. Once again, this is not going to be a controversial release, this will be as smooth and drama free as possible. At least that is what Microsoft have to be hoping.
That’s all I have right now but I will continue to update this page as we know more.
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