Everything you need to know about Windows 10The Windows 10 release date is now confirmed to land this very year, with the latest Microsoft event revealing a host of details, not least the Windows 10 price, features, and the brand new Spartan browser.
Like most of you, we're growing weary of the same old, same old Windows 8 - it's no surprise then that excitement is ramping up for Windows 9...sorry, Windows 10 we mean. What do you have to look forward to from Microsoft's next flagship OS?
One of the most exciting features of Windows 10 is assuredly Project Spartan, the new web browser that looks to eschew the beleaguered Internet Explorer. It's going to rock a lightweight design, a darker theme, and Cortana integration.
The operating system upgrade will mark a new generation of Microsoft software, with the Redmond-based firm hoping to unify all of its platforms - PC, tablet, mobile - under one, simple Windows banner.
“Windows 10 will be our most comprehensive platform ever,” Microsoft’s Windows head, Terry Myerson said in unveiling the update.
He added: “We’re delivering one application platform. One store. One way for applications to be discovered, purchased, and updated across all of these devices.”
Microsoft talked this fact up at its January 21 event, revealing some of the Windows 10 universal apps, namely Office Suite, Outlook, and the brand new Photos app.
Although Microsoft has already detailed many new Windows 10 features, much mystery still surrounds certain elements of the update – most notably exactly when the Windows 10 release date will fall.
We will continue to update this page with all the latest Windows 10 release date and download details as new information emerges. Bookmark it now to keep up-to-date on all things Windows 10.
Watch the Windows 10 preview video:
Windows 10 Release DateMicrosoft officially unveiled Windows 10 on September 30, and announced how it would make a Technical Preview available for desktops and laptops as part of the new Windows Insider Program. Sadly, details surrounding a precise Windows 10 release date are still few and far between.
With the grand consumer preview unveiling having taken place on January 21, we're now more excited than ever to finally get a hold of the final Windows 10 build.
The preview versions have tided us over for now, but both look set to shut down on April 15, leaving us a fortnight shy of Microsoft’s Build 2015 conference – scheduled to run between April 29 and May 1.
Build, held at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco, is Microsoft’s annual developer conference. It regularly offers a targeted look at the company’s upcoming software, hence the 2015 Windows 10 expectations.
The first Build conference took place in September 2011 and saw a heavy focus on Windows 8, as did the 2012 meeting. 2013’s yearly get-together saw the limelight fall onto Windows 8.1, while the focus of this year’s conference shifted on Cortana and Windows Phone 8.1
It’s generally expected that the next Build conference will see Microsoft proffer an exact Windows 10 release date, with Myerson having already confirmed that the software will land ‘later’ in 2015.
Looking back at Microsoft operating system releases, it’s difficult to gauge when the firm might actually launch Windows 10.
Windows 8.1, Windows 8, and Windows XP all landed in October, while Windows 7 came in July 2009. Based on the evidence, an October Windows 10 release is likeliest, although anywhere from Q2 2015 onwards is possible.
Read More: Microsoft Surface Pro 3 Review
Windows 10 FeaturesWindows 10 is a pretty big overhaul as far as Microsoft releases go. The firm’s execs are looking to completely unify device platforms – no small feat. This means there are heaps of new features in tow, including universal Windows 10 apps, desktop-based Cortana AI and – in response to endless consumer requests – the return of the Start Menu.
One of the most exciting additions to Windows 10 is Project Spartan, the Internet Explorer replacement set to debut with the new OS.
It's set to rock a much more lightweight design and UX, as well as a darker theme and Cortana integration - little old Corts will be on hand to supplement info you're browsing for.
Case in point - say you're looking up a restaurant; Cortana will take it upon herself to find directions from your current location, as well as the menu.
On to the Start Menu. Woe betide those who forget the furore that followed Microsoft’s abandonment of the beloved feature in Windows 8.
The outrage subsided slightly with the addition of a pseudo-Start Menu in Windows 8.1, but it still left many hungering for a full-fledged return to days of Start Menu yore.
Fortunately, Microsoft has revamped the classic Start Menu, albeit with a sprinkling of Windows 8. The new Start Menu returns to its old bottom-left stomping ground, this time with Metro-style live tiles on show. It’s also much wider and, thankfully, resizable, should its new girth not be to your tastes.
For the display-fondlers amongst you, there is also a heavy focus on improved touch integration. Microsoft has promised to evolve its touch UI, guaranteeing us more intuitive features without completely abandoning its current touch flavour.
Cortana for Windows 10
Many fans of the Windows ecosystem were excited to find Cortana showing up in Microsoft’s Technical Preview build. Cortana is a voice-controlled AI that was initially designed for Windows Phone, but now looks set to appear on your desktop through Windows 10.
Cortana for desktop got its first proper reveal back in 2014, courtesy of WinBeta. Footage from an unreleased Microsoft build showed the Windows Phone-sired AI performing a selection of tasks on her new home, including setting up calendar alerts and using location-based mapping features.
Taking on Siri and Google Now, the clever clogs software is good for the expected raft of AI tasks, including scheduling events, searching the web, and making amusing but awkward small talk – Her-enthusiasts likely disappointed.
Microsoft confirmed all the Cortana goodness at its January 21 event, revealing that Cortana would be taking shape as a Notebook-toting, machine-learning digital assistant for your desktop.
When you click on Cortana in the Start Bar, you'll see the Cortana Home Page, chock full with things she's learned about you.
"Having Cortana on your PC is like having another member of the family sitting around and helping you get things done," explained Microsoft's Joe Belfiore.
She's also getting some unique features designed specifically for desktop and laptop, including searching your Windows 10 PC for content - even detailed things like photos snapped during a given date range, or specific PowerPoint slides pertaining to a given topic.
And here's one for the keyboard happy - Cortana will gladly take written commands, meaning you won't need to bark at your monitor every time you want something done.
Another new Windows 10 feature is Task View. This lets users flick between virtual desktops. It launches from the task bar, and offers up the chance to re-arrange running apps. There’s also a swipe-from-the-left option to engage Task View for touch users too.
A big part of Task View is the new Snap Assist feature. Snap Assist builds on the side-snap functionality that shipped with Windows 8. The new system allows for 2 x 2 snapping, vertical snapping, and cross-monitor snapping – a welcome boon for multi-taskers.
For the hardcore Windows user, the command prompt is getting a 21st century kick up the backside with the addition of keyboard shortcuts. No longer will you have to hack out lengthy command lines – just copy to the clipboard and paste away.
There’s also Continuum. Before you ask, no it’s not Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Continuity. In fact, what it does is register how you’re using your Windows device, and then subsequently adapts to your chosen style.
If you’ve got a keyboard or mouse plugged into your Surface Pro 3 then you’ll get a standard click-friendly Windows interface. Unplug all your peripheral kit and the Surface Pro 3 will switch to a more touch-friendly Metro-style interface – how considerate.
Universal apps will also be making an appearance as part of Microsoft’s over-arching unification agenda. Since the (effectively) same Windows 10 will run across all of your Microsoft-powered devices, the big M wants a singular app store to cover all your gadget bases.
This means that when you download, for instance, Skype on your PC, it should be the same effective download for all other platforms, tablet and mobile included.
Microsoft also wants to put a big focus on gaming this time around, with Xbox head Phil Spencer teasing the January 21 event ahead of time by tweeting: "I'll be focusing more on what we are doing on Win10 in January. It's time for us to talk about gaming on Windows."
And talk he did. Microsoft used the occasion to reveal that Windows 10 would enable users to stream Xbox One games to tablets and PCs.
"With Windows 10 we will enable streaming of Xbox One games to any Windows 10 PC or tablet in your home later this year," confirmed Spencer, speaking at the event.
You'll need to do a one-time setup, whereby the new Xbox app for Windows 10 will search for Xbox One consoles in your home.
You'll then be able to stream those games over your local Wi-Fi connection, meaning you can carry on lobbing frags in Halo even when you're on the loo.
Spencer also showed off the upcoming Windows 10 gaming API, DirectX 12, boasting that it would boost performance by 50 per cent.
This is thanks to a new version of Direct3D, which will offer more granular access to your computer's CPU and GPU.
This means that developers will be able to optimise their code to run as quickly as possible, no matter whether you're rocking Intel, Nvidia, AMD, or any other hardware variant.
"DirectX 12 will make your games even better," said Spencer. "For CPU-bound games, DirectX 12 will increase the performance of those games by up to 50 per cent."
It's similar to AMD's Mantle API, which launched a couple of years ago and worked in conjuction with DirectX 11.
Read More: Nokia Lumia 930 Review
Windows 10 PreviewThe Windows Insider Program officially launched on October 1. This has given keen tinkerers and developers a chance to play around with the new Windows 10 software ahead of launch. Microsoft has been regularly releasing Windows 10 preview builds ever since.
Shortly thereafter, on October 7, the company made the developer preview build available for Windows 7 users. Unfortunately there’s still no consumer preview build available, although this is set to be unveiled on January 21.
Keeping its timeline tight, on October 13, Microsoft revealed that upwards of one million unique users had already accessed the Windows 10 Technical Preview. There’s also been north of 200,000 feedback comments, with 68 per cent of users testing the system with more than seven apps per day.
The technical preview is due to shut down on April 15 next year, locking out everyone ahead of a general release, but it’s not too late to get involved.
For those who can't wait for the full release, Microsoft unveiled its Consumer Preview back on January 21.
This latest preview offers a much more fleshed out version of Windows 10 that will give keen users access to brand new features like Cortana for desktop and the Start Menu 2.0.
Windows 10 DownloadWhile you can’t download Windows 10 proper just yet, Microsoft has made both its Windows 10 Technical Preview and Consumer Preview available.
Neither truly repesent the final product, of course, with both receiving regular updates, or new ‘builds’, pushed out by Microsoft, adding new features, fixing bugs, and responding to tester feedback.
Any willing individual can sign up to Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program and gain access to the preview downloads, although it’s largely recommended for those who are keen to actually provide feedback on the software to Microsoft.
It’s also not for the tech non-savvy, with Microsoft recommending knowledge of .ISO files and UEFI BIOS before getting involved. There’s an FAQ available as a helping hand to those willing to give it a go, however.
There could also be bugs and issues with the build, and so it’s potentially worth not making the preview offerings your main OS.
Read More: Android 5.0 Lollipop Review
Windows 10 PriceUntil January 21, Microsoft had remained frustratingly quiet on how much Windows 10 would cost.
To that end, there was plenty of speculation on what approach Microsoft would take to its Windows 10 pricing, including abandoning price tags altogether, offering a subscription plan, and running with a one-off fee.
Well thanks to Microsoft's most recent event, we know now exactly how much Windows 10 will cost - zilch.
That's right, Microsoft has said that during the first year of release for Windows 10, the upgrade will be offered completely free.
Microsoft also says it will be bringing tweaks and new features to users of Windows 10 via free and regular software updates. Jolly good show.
"With Windows 10, we think of Windows as a service," explained Myerson. "You could comfortably think of Windows 10 as the world's largest internet service."
The caveat to all of this is that it's not yet clear how much Windows 10 will cost once that initial year-long free run is up.
The good news is that all of this means Windows 10 will be free across all platforms, including your smartphone.
Read More: Best Laptop 2014
Bookmark this page and stay tuned to TrustedReviews for all the latest on the Windows 10 release date.