Microsoft revealed that Windows 10 will be finally coming to desktop and mobile devices in full, official form on July 29. The highly anticipated operating system, which leaps over the entire Windows 9 to differentiate itself from everything else that Microsoft has worked on in the past, has been available as a Technical Preview for tech-minded individuals who know what they are doing with a half-baked OS.
For the rest of the world, however, we only have less than two months to go before we can check out Microsoft's vision of the future of personal computing, and from the looks of it, Microsoft has a pretty neat future in store. Here is everything you need to know about Windows 10 and whether or not it's okay to get excited about it.
It's Free, For the Most Part
From July 29 until a year after, Microsoft will be offering Windows 10 to all users running authentic Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. If you're still running the problematic Windows 8, you only need to run Windows Update to get to Windows 8.1, and you're free until July 29, 2016 to get Windows 10 for your desktop and mobile devices.
Once you get Windows 10, you will receive all upgrades for free for the entire lifetime of your device. Microsoft is also not planning on rolling out Windows 11 and will stick to Windows 10 for a good long time.
For those on Windows XP or lower, you will have to purchase from Microsoft to enjoy the new features of Windows 10. Microsoft has yet to officially unveil the prices for the new OS, but a leaked listing from Newegg reveals Windows 10 Home will cost $119, Windows 10 Pro is $199 and the Pro Pack upgrade to get you from Home to Pro is $99.
Finally, if you're running a non-authentic version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, sorry but there won't be any free upgrades for you either, although Microsoft said in the past you will have access to special offers to get you to pay for Windows 10 possibly at a lower price.
One OS for All Devices
Microsoft is making a big leap of faith here in trying to offer a single platform for all sorts of devices. The idea is to encourage developers to build apps for Windows 10 that can be used for desktop and easily switch over to other form factors without having to do a lot of work. And with a new feature called Continuum, users will be able to use their mobile devices like a PC by simply connecting it to a monitor, a keyboard or a mouse.
Consumers will have access to three Windows 10 editions, Home, Mobile and Pro for PCs and two-in-one hybrid tablets, while businesses get Enterprise, Mobile Enterprise, Education and IoT Core to be implemented in Internet of Things machines such as ATMs and handheld terminals.
Requirements for Upgrade
While Microsoft wants to push Windows 10 to a billion devices in the next two to three years, there still are some requirements your system has to meet in order to get the new OS.
Specifically, your computer needs to have at least a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM for 32-bit systems and 2 GB for 64-bit, 16 GB of free storage space for 32-bit processors and 20 GB for 64-bit, and a Microsoft DirectX 9 graphics card with a WDDM driver. You will also need to open a Microsoft account if you don't have one and must be connected to the Internet.
Downloading and installing the new OS will take at least 30 minutes of your time, depending on your device.
And if you think you're all set for July 29, Microsoft encourages you to reserve a spot for your free upgrade to Windows 10, which you can do so by clicking the new Windows icon that appears on the right side of your taskbar. Reserving your slot apparently makes it easier to get the upgrade, but since Windows 10 is free for all qualified users, you won't run out of OS to download even if you don't have a reservation.
Say a Partial Goodbye to Internet Explorer
Microsoft is putting Internet Explorer in the backseat with an all-new, more powerful browser called Microsoft Edge, although its codename Spartan could have been better. On mobile, Edge will replace IE altogether, but desktops will still give users the option to use IE over Edge.
Here are a few interesting things about Edge if you're ready to give up IE. First, since Windows 10 is developed for all devices, Edge works on both touchscreen and non-touch devices. Using your finger, stylus or your mouse, the web browser lets you annotate web pages and save them for later or share with friends or coworkers. On mobile, Edge will also let you switch into reading mode and compile a reading list that you can access even when you're offline.
Smart Personal Assistant for Desktop
Cortana is ahead of Siri and Google Now in the race to becoming a desktop mainstay, as we will soon see Microsoft's personal digital assistant on Windows 10 offering reminders, executing commands and answering questions that you ask via voice or text.
Cortana has proven itself as one of the more intelligent personal assistants in the past, and Microsoft says it has gotten even smarter by learning more facts from Bing and getting access to your desktop files.
Cortana also has access to The Notebook, which contains everything it has learned about you from previous questions and commands, but that won't let Cortana take over your life. In fact, Microsoft says Cortana is now more secure because you can see what it knows in The Notebook and edit or delete some of the things in there that you don't want it to know.
The Same Classic Look with New Functionality
When Microsoft took out the Start Menu in Windows 8, the PC-using population went up in uproar over the death of the much loved feature. The Start Menu came back in Windows 8.1, although forced into Microsoft's live tile approach, which really didn't appease a lot of users.
On Windows 10, you'll see a comeback of the real Start Menu paired with the more modern live tiles of Windows 8, which you can customize so you only see what is important to you.
You'll also see that Microsoft harks back to the classic windows style that its entire line of operating systems was named for. Instead of the forced full-screen mode in its modern UI, you'll find apps in more traditional windows mode that you can easily minimize or switch over to and from different apps when you're multitasking.
Other New Features to Look Out For
As with every new Windows, you'll also get to see a new suite of Microsoft's flagship productivity tools, and as with everything else Windows 10, the new Office 2016 is designed to be compatible with touchscreen device. You'll get Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, Outlook and other Office apps that are equipped with new controls and shortcuts that make working without keyboards a little bit easier.
You'll also find that Microsoft has upped the security for Windows 10 with Microsoft Hello, which lets you authenticate your identity via a range of biometric methods, such as face, iris or fingerprint recognition, depending on the capabilities of your device.
Gamers also get a lot of love with the integration of Xbox Live and Xbox App, which will allow them stream games directly from their Xbox to their PC and do a lot of other things they can only do on Xbox Live.
The Future of Windows 10
Microsoft is serious about Windows 10, and it is even using the OS to serve as the platform for HoloLens, Microsoft's own augmented reality headset that will let you see holograms you can interact with as though they are part of the real world. Think more immersive games and Skype conversations you can move from the wall of your kitchen to your bedroom ceiling.
HoloLens isn't coming anytime soon, though, but that doesn't mean there's nothing else exciting about Windows 10.