Monday, software giant Microsoft announced that Windows 10, the latest and greatest upgrade for its ubiquitous operating system designed to scale from smartphones to tablets to desktop computers, will be launching on July 29 across 190 countries.
The software will be available as a free upgrade for both mobile and desktop Windows devices, with the desktop version released through a reservation system.
As mentioned before, the desktop upgrade will only be free for the first year. Terry Myerson, executive vice president of the Operating Systems group, said that “for the first year after Windows 10 is available, we will be making available a free upgrade to Windows 10 to all devices running windows 8.1.”
Beginning July 29, you can get Windows 10 for PCs and tablets by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer, or on a new Windows 10 PC from your favorite retailer.
“If you purchase a new Windows 8.1 device between now and then, the Windows 10 upgrade will be available to you and many retail stores will upgrade your new device for you,” said the Redmond firm.
Windows 10 includes the familiar blue taskbar, a polished Start menu available in full screen mode, a new Action Center that doubles as a notification center with quick access to commonly used options like turning off Wi-Fi and more, an all-new web browser dubbed Edge, a virtual assistant called Cortana, Windows Continuum—Microsoft’s take on Apple’s Continuity—and more.
Speaking of Cortana, the virtual assistant will be arriving soon to iOS and Android devices as a free download, sans the “Hey Cortana” feature, toggling settings or opening apps as these features require deep integration on the OS level.
Windows 10 will also include a brand new application called Phone Companion, pictured above, to install Cortana and other Windows apps for the iPhone, Android and Windows Phone.
Windows 10 highlights
Cortana, the world’s first truly personal digital assistant helps you get things done. Cortana learns your preferences to provide relevant recommendations, fast access to information, and important reminders. Interaction is natural and easy via talking or typing. And the Cortana experience works not just on your PC, but can notify and help you on your smartphone too.
Microsoft Edge, is an all-new browser designed to get things done online in new ways, with built-in commenting on the web – via typing or inking — sharing comments, and a reading view that makes reading web sites much faster and easier. With Cortana integrated, Microsoft Edge offers quick results and content based on your interests and preferences. Fast, streamlined and personal, you can focus on just the content that matters to you and actively engage with the web.
Office on Windows: In addition to the Office 2016 full featured desktop suite, Windows 10 users will be able to experience new universal Windows applications for Word, Excel, and PowerPoint, all available separately. These offer a consistent, touch-first experience across a range of devices to increase you productivity. Designed from the ground up to run on Windows 10, you can easily create and edit Word documents, and deliver PowerPoint presentations while annotating on the fly. With new touch-first controls in Excel you can create or update spreadsheets without a keyboard or mouse. You will also be able to enjoy new versions of OneNote and Outlook, which are included with Windows 10 at no additional cost.
Xbox Live and the integrated Xbox App bring new game experiences to Windows 10. Xbox on Windows 10 brings the expansive Xbox Live gaming network to both Windows 10 PCs and tablets. Communicate with your friends on Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One – while playing any PC game. You can capture, edit and share your greatest gaming moments with Game DVR, and play new games with friends across devices. You can play games on your PC, streamed directly from your Xbox One console to your Windows 10 tablets or PCs, within your home. Games developed for DirectX 12 in Windows 10 will see improvements in speed, efficiency and graphics capability.
Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People, Mail and Calendar
New Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People, Mail & Calendar apps have updated designs that look and feel familiar from app to app and device to device. You can start something on one device and continue it on another since your content is stored on and synched through OneDrive.
Photos app in Windows 10
Windows Continuum enables today’s best laptops and 2-in-1 devices to elegantly transform from one form factor to the other, enabling smooth transitions of your tablet into a PC, and back. And new Windows phones with Continuum can be connected to a monitor, mouse and physical keyboard to make your phone work like a PC.
Windows Hello, greets you by name and with a smile, letting you log in without a password and providing instant, more secure access to your Windows 10 devices. With Windows Hello, biometric authentication is easy with your face, iris, or finger, providing instant recognition.
Windows Store, with easy install and uninstall of trusted applications, supported by the broadest range of global payment methods.
For the desktop version of Windows 10, head over to Microsoft’s reservation webpage. For existing users, the free upgrade offer will appear as an icon in the system tray at the bottom of the screen.