Windows 10: All you need to know about the next WindowsWhen is the Windows 10 release date and how will Windows 10 differ from Windows 8? Read on as we explore potential Windows 10 release date, looks at early Windows 10 screenshots and how the Windows 10 Start Menu looks set to change compared to Windows 8.
Microsoft has now confirmed that the new version of Windows is not Windows 9 as everyone expected, but Windows 10. Speaking at its launch in San Francisco, Windows boss Terry Myerson said that Windows 10 will be "built from the ground up for a mobile-first, cloud-first world" and that "Windows 10 will run on the broadest range of devices ever".
What this means, fundamentally, is that Windows 10 is set to become the de facto operating system across every Microsoft device. That means the Xbox One, desktop PCs, laptops, tablets and phones.
Myerson added: "We're delivering one application platform... One store, one way for applications to be discovered, purchased and updated across all of these devices."
Watch the Windows 10 preview video
Windows 10 will run on every kind of device, including phones
Windows 10 Start Menu: How will it work?Microsoft showed a very early build of Windows 10 and the Windows 10 Start Menu, albeit one that looks very similar to the leaked 'Windows 9 Start Menu' seen in recent weeks.
Here's what the Windows 10 Start Menu will look like
Here we see that the tile interface from the Windows 8 Start Screen is now built into the Windows 10 Start Menu. You can add tiles, resize them and even expand the Windows 10 Start Menu so it stretches right across the screen.
As in previous versions of Windows, before Windows 8 at least, search is integrated into the Windows 10 Start Menu with a search box at the bottom and results appearing in the menu as you type. The search system also delivers search results alongside internal results as well.
Windows 10 Release Date: When will Windows 10 come out?Microsoft confirmed that Windows 10 will be released after the Build 2015 developer's conference, which would put the Windows 10 release date at some time after April 2015.
It's not clear if this means the Windows 10 release date will be immediately after Build 2015, or if it will come later in the year. At this stage it seems as if Microsoft is hedging its bets on a final release date.
Windows 10 Preview: When can you try it?Microsoft has confirmed that the Windows 10 Technical Preview will be available very soon, potentially tomorrow. There is already a website for the preview on Microsoft's website that currently says the Windows 10 preview is coming soon.
As usual, Microsoft warns that only experienced users should install the Windows 10 Preview as it is a very early build. Microsoft also recommends that you only install this Windows 10 'beta' version on a second PC, not a primary one that you rely everyday.
Microsoft has released a number of official Windows 10 screenshots, so we can already get a picture of what Windows 10 will look like.
Windows 10 Screenshots: What will Windows 10 look like?
Here we can see a 'modern' app running in a window. This is one of the key changes in Windows 10. Instead of being full-screen, modern Windows 10 apps run on the desktop alongside 'classic' apps and behave in much the same way.
This means you can now 'snap' windows from classic and modern apps on the same desktop page. This Windows 10 screenshot demonstrates the new ability to snap up to four windows on-screen at the same time in a quadrant formation. Windows 8 only supported 'snapped' apps in a side-by-side mode.
This Windows 10 screenshot shows a key new feature, the ability to have multiple 'virtual desktops' that you can move between. This kind of functionality has been in Mac OS and Linux for some time and it's a feature that power users will love.
And here we see the new Windows 10 task view, which is the main way to quickly switch between applications. Here you can see the bar at the bottom for creating new desktops, too.
Finally, the new Windows 10 Start Menu. You can see in this screenshot how it can extend outwards to include more tiles.
Windows 10 Features: Could Cortana be a key part of Windows 10?One thing Microsoft hasn't talked about yet is whether its Cortana digital assistant will appear in Windows 10. In case you missed her/it, Cortana is the digital assistant that Microsoft introduced to Windows Phone 8.1. Recently, two separate reports confirm that the system is coming to Windows 10. This would essentially add voice search, and other voice activated interactions, right into Windows 10.
This idea is also consistent with a recently leaked poster (see below) that refers to the need to make Windows 10 "deeply personal". Adding a personal assistant like Cortana seems like a good way to kickstart that idea.
Windows 10 Price: Could Windows 10 be subscription based?We don't know this for certain yet, but it's reasonably clear that Windows 10 will see a change in how Microsoft sells Windows 10 and that the Windows 9 price may be significantly lower than previous releases.
The two sources for information on this topic are WZOR (again) and respected journalist, and Microsoft expert, Mary Jo Foley. WZOR believes the base operating system will be free, with certain features costing extra as part of a subscription. This could take the form of enterprise features costing extra in a similar manner to Office 365.
Foley, meanwhile, believes that Windows 10 will be free, but only without the desktop. This is somewhat consistent with current Microsoft policy whereby products of a certain size or price are effectively exempt from the licensing fee, though how Microsoft would charge for desktop versions and what it would charge remain up for debate.
These two ideas aren't necessary mutually exclusive, either, and clearly show that discussions within Microsoft are ongoing.
As noted earlier, a recent leaked Microsoft document refers to 'Windows 365' and thus adds further fuel to the idea that Windows could have a subscription-based future. It seems unlikely, to us at least, that Microsoft would make such a radical change immediately, making the WZOR assertion of a subscription for certain features far more likely.
The most recent news on the Windows 10 price, however, is that it will be free to anyone running Windows 8. A recent report from an Indonesian news outlet said that Andreas Diantoro, President of Microsoft Indonesia, confirmed to them that Windows 10 would be free for any users running Windows 8.
This seems slightly premature, though, as Microsoft spokespeople at the recent Windows 10 unveiling refused to drawn on its plan for how it sell Windows 10.