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Windows 10 release date, features, devices and free upgrade: Everything you …

Windows 10 at-a-glance

Windows 10 launched globally on 29 July, with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users, as well as Windows Insiders, all starting to receive their free upgrade to the new OS. Here’s our round-up of everything you need to know about Windows 10.

  • Windows 10 started rolling out on 29 July 2015 as a phased release
  • Read our full review of Windows 10 here1
  • Enterprise users can manage company-wide rollouts for Windows 10 updates
  • Microsoft Edge replaces Internet Explorer as Windows 10’s default browser
  • Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 consumer edition users during the first year after launch
  • If they don’t upgrade within the year, consumers will be charged from 100
  • Android and iOS apps will run on the new OS

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Windows 10 Release Date, Features, Devices And Free Upgrade: Everything You ...

Windows 10 latest news

26/10/2015: Microsoft has announced its Edge browser2 won’t be getting support for extensions as a Windows 10 update this year, but instead those waiting for the company’s new browser add-ons will have to wait until 2016. Microsoft said in a statement: We re committed to providing customers with a personalised web experience, which is why bringing extensions to Microsoft Edge continues to be a high priority. We re actively working to develop a secure extension model to make the safest and most reliable browser for our customers, and look forward to sharing more in a future Windows 10 update in 2016. Microsoft earlier hinted that extensions would be shipping alongside the Threshold 23 updated anticipated to be rolled out before the end of 2015. Instead, the ability to add extensions will be coming in the Redstone4 update next year.

23/10/2015: Microsoft has revealed its earnings report for the first financial quarter of 2016, indicating a strong start for Windows 10.

Although Windows OEM revenue has fallen by 6 per cent, the company claims in the report that it is “performing better than the overall PC market” thanks to Windows 10 spurring new device adoption. Windows 10 also gave a market share boost to Microsoft’s Bing, which is the default search engine for many of the operating system’s apps and features. Using ‘Constant Currency’ adjustments to account for foreign exchange rates, Bing’s advertising revenue is reportedly up by 29 per cent. The company’s mobile arm did not do quite as well – revenue from its phones was down a whopping 54 per cent in Constant Currency. However, this is likely due to a lack of new devices released, as the company geared up for the launch of the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL5 flagships earlier this month.

22/10/2015: Microsoft will deliver its next big Windows 10 update in November, according to reports.

The new build, known internally as Threshold 2, will provide new features such as coloured title bars for apps on the desktop and improved context menus, The Verge6 reported. Other new functionality will allegedly include messaging and Skype Video apps for the operating system, while Paul Thurrott7 suggested Cortana and the Edge browser will get improvements, too. The Windows 10 Fall Update, as Microsoft calls it, will be distributed through Windows Update, and it will likely be delivered within the first week of November, according to The Verge.

In other news, Microsoft s Gabe Aul reported that Redmond has fixed the bug preventing mobile users from upgrading to the latest build from their existing one they previously had to roll back to Windows 8.1 to install Build 10549.4.

21/10/2015: Cortana will soon be able to send texts from a PC. Microsoft is to release a new preview of its Windows 10 Mobile software today that incorporates the functionality. This mimics a feature that has been part of Mac OS X and the iPhone since the release of Yosemite and iOS 8. According to reports from The Verge8, texts will be sent from your phone, with Cortana allowing a user to dictate the message into a Windows 10 device. At present the functionality is limited to Windows 10 mobile devices, but could be extended to Android and iOS devices in the future.

20/10/15: Windows 10’s business penetration has dramatically outpaced its predecessors, new research shows. A report from IT community site Spiceworks suggests Microsoft’s new operating system has reached over 11 per cent penetration in UK businesses in its first ten weeks of launch.

This is almost 20 per cent faster than the initial adoption rate of its predecessor, Windows 8. Another 23 per cent of companies with at least 500 employees have instances of Windows 10 running on their networks, compared to around five per cent of small organisations with less than 50 employees.

19/10/15: It appears that Microsoft is resorting to pleading with users not to use Chrome or Firefox as their default browsers on Windows 10. If a user tries to switch their default browser, the operating system comes up with a prompt asking users to “give Microsoft Edge a shot”. It then says that Microsoft’s new browser lets users write on webpages, integrates with Cortana, and includes a reading view. In big letters, it finally begs, “don’t switch and try now”. Users clicking on this will open up Edge and not change the default browser, according to The Verge9.

The firm is also trying the same tactic with its built-in Photos and Groove music apps.

16/10/15: Microsoft has apologised for a mistake in a recent Windows update that led to Window 7 and Windows 8.1 computers being automatically upgraded to Windows 10. While Microsoft has been heavily promoting its new OS and strongly encouraging customers to upgrade, it has been an opt-in, rather than an opt-out process. However, Ars Technica readers10 started to complain that the upgrade was happening without their permission. Microsoft acknowledged the issue, telling the website saying it was an unexpected bug.

“As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel,” Microsoft said in a statement. “This is an intuitive and trusted place people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check.”

15/10/15: A new build of Windows 10 for mobile was made available to members of Microsoft s Insiders Program yesterday after people waited a month for the latest release.

However, users need a phone running Redmond s last mobile OS, Windows 8.1, in order to download Build 10549, owing to a bug developers found at the last minute. Microsoft s Gabe Aul said that phones trying to upgrade from the previous build, Build 10536, get stuck at a black screen after downloading the new update.

Rather than making you wait a little bit longer for us to fix this bug we decided to release this build as a single update from Windows Phone 8.1, he wrote in a blog11. Current Insiders can use the Windows Device Recovery Tool to roll back to Windows 8.1, before installing the Windows Insider app, choosing the Fast ring and rebooting their phones.

14/10/2015: Windows 10 Insider Preview builds are about to expire, reaching the end of their life later this week.

Following October 15 (for builds released between 29 January and 9 July) the PC will begin to reboot every three hours before failing to start at all after two weeks, reports Neowin12. Those using builds 9826 or 10166 should make sure to update as soon as possible though anyone who upgraded to the RTM version of Windows 10 will still be supported after the expiration date. Microsoft has also introduced13 the 12-inch Toshiba dynaPad, a high-end tablet that was first unveiled at IFA last month. The tablet comes with a Wacom Active Electrostatics TruPen and promises to ‘reinvent’ pen and paper.

12/10/2015: While Windows 10 may be available to everyone, Microsoft is still releasing preview builds to those on its Insider program, with the latest build, 10565, being dished out to the fast ring of that program today.

Build 10565 introduces several new features, including Skype integration, which will allow users to reply directly to messages from within Windows without having to open the app. Cortana, meanwhile, will now let those using a touch-enabled device save hand-written notes that include events, dates and times and integrate them into their calendar. There is also a couple of aesthetic updates, with users now able to match the colour scheme of title bars to their overall colour scheme, “improved context” in Start, including new icons for readjusting tile size, and some new desktop icons. Improvements to printer management and easier upgrading, plus some bug fixes, have all been introduced – a full list of them, along with known issues in this build, can be read on Gabe Aul’s blog post14.

Aside from this solid news, there’s also a suggestion that development has begun on the mysterious “Windows Redstone”. Redstone is thought to be the codename for what will effectively be Windows 10.1. According to WinBeta, Redstone has been in the planning phase for the past several months, but the website “can confirm that Redstone has now entered early development and has been for a few weeks, meaning engineers are now beginning to lay-down code”. While Redstone is allegedly in the early phases of development and, therefore, quite a long way off from RTM, WinBeta has also claimed that Threshold 2 – a significant update to, but not a new version of, Windows 10 – will be ready for sign-off “soon”.

How soon this actually could be is anyone’s guess, but IT Pro would speculate that Microsoft could be moving to an annual update model, a la Apple OS X15. If correct, this would mean a new version of Windows 10 could be released in summer next year.

05/10/2015: The latest Windows 10 adoption figures have revealed its growth is slowing, but 100 million devices were running the operating system as of 30 September. US analytics company Net Applications measured the number of people utilising the platform, revealing Windows 10’s user share grew 1.4 per cent in September, taking the total up to 6.6 per cent of web users. Windows 7 is still the most widely used of Microsoft’s computer operating systems, with around 925 million devices using it, while Windows 8 is trailing far behind at around 230 million.

Windows 10 accounts for 7.3 per cent of all Windows devices accessing the internet, compared to 6.6 per cent of all devices, which also includes Mac OS X and others with smaller shares such as Linux. However, Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied these figures, preferring to keep its download numbers close to its chest.

29/09/2015: Terry Myerson, VP of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft has taken to the official Windows blog16 to try and allay some of the continuing concerns around privacy in Windows 10.

“From the very beginning, we designed Windows 10 with two straightforward privacy principles in mind:

  1. Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you.
  2. You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.

With Windows 10, information we collect is encrypted in transit to our servers, and then stored in secure facilities,” Myerson said. Myerson broke down the data the company does and does not collect into three segments: Safety and reliability, personalisation, and advertising.

For safety and reliability, Myerson said Microsoft collects “a limited amount of information to help us provide a secure and reliable experience”. While this may include anonymised device information, Myerson said, “it doesn’t include any of your content or files, and we take several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID”. Personalisation is something that has caused particular concern with regards to security, but Myerson has sought to allay these fears by pointing out that users “are in control of the information we collect for these purposes and can update your settings at any time”.

“Note that with new features like Cortana which require more personal information to deliver the full experience, you are asked if you want to turn them on and are given additional privacy customisation options,” he added.

Finally, while the Scroogled campaign may be dead17, its spirit certainly lives on. The under the third section heading, labelled simply “advertising data we don’t collect”, Myerson writes: “Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you.”

25/09/2015: Microsoft is said to have missed a self-imposed deadline to release its Skype messaging apps for Windows 10, according to this report by Thurrott.com18. The apps were supposed to be in preview stage by the end of summer. The report said that Skype suffered downtime earlier this week due to a “larger-than-usual configuration change19 that some versions of Skype were unable to process correctly. It was further suggested that the downtime and delays in releasing the apps were related to each other.

22/09/2015: Microsoft’s latest version of its flagship Office productivity suite, Office 2016, includes several new Windows 10 focused features – most notably integration with Cortana20 and Hello21. Cortana will integrate with Outlook in particular and show information on meetings, including agenda and location stored in the Outlook calendar. Additionally, she will take into consideration live travel conditions, for example, when a user is traveling to a remote location and advise them when to leave accordingly.

Windows Hello, meanwhile, is used as a single sign-on for Windows 10 and Office 365, meaning the user will be automatically connected to the cloud when they use facial recognition to log in.

11/09/2015: Some Windows 7 and 8 users have started to find an unwelcome visitor squatting on their system – the installer for Windows 10. An Inquirer22 reader reported finding the full download of Windows 10 in a folder on his PC, despite not asking for the upgrade or even “reserving” a copy, as Microsoft has been hassling many users to do via a pop-up. The reader was sure of this as he has no plans to upgrade, but discovered a hidden folder taking up 6GB of space after his internet connection slowed to a crawl for a week.

The auto-download is no bug – Microsoft admitted it’s intentional. For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they ll need if they decide to upgrade,” the company told The Guardian23.

09/09/2015: Dell has agreed to sell the Surface Pro range alongside its own tablet offerings, as Microsoft pushes the Windows 10-running device at the enterprise. The hardware giant will start selling the tablet in its US and Canada stores from October, before selling it at Dell.com/Work later in the year. The partnership will be rolled out to 28 other geographies starting in early 2016. Redmond has also signed agreements with Avanade, HP and Accenture under its Surface Enterprise Initiative24 to sell more Windows 10 devices to business users. Around 75 million devices already run Windows 10, according to the company.

02/09/2015: Native translation support for Cortana in Windows 10 is now available25 in the US and China, allowing users to translate English and Chinese words and phrases into a total of 38 languages.

The same blog post states that more versions of Windows 10 will be supported “in the near future”. Specifically, Microsoft says it is planning26 to bring the digital assistant to Mexico, Brazil and with French support in Canada by the end of 2015. For ‘Insider Program’ users (with Build 10532 or later) in Canada, Australia and Japan, Microsoft has made Cortana available via an optional download. Users in India can already use Cortana in English.

02/09/2015: VMware is set to speed up business deployments of Windows 10 with a new product titled Project A2 (pronounced A-squared). The initiative, currently in preview, combines app virtualisation and enterprise mobility management technologies to virtualise then install Windows 10, before managing all applications and devices via a single view.

Sumit Dhawan, VMware’s senior VP and general manager of desktop products for end-user computing, wrote in a blog post: Most of our current customers deploy and manage Windows images and distribute applications as part of the image updates or via tools that are used in concert with image management.

This often leads to difficulty in managing application lifecycles that include updates and rollbacks. This is why we announced Project A2, a solution that has two key components: VMware App Volumes for real-time delivering and managing applications, and AirWatch for managing Windows 10 environments and devices.

References

  1. ^ a future to be embraced, not feared (www.itpro.co.uk)
  2. ^ Which is the best browser? (www.itpro.co.uk)
  3. ^ Threshold 2 and Redstone (www.itpro.co.uk)
  4. ^ Threshold 2 and Redstone (www.itpro.co.uk)
  5. ^ Lumia 950 & 950 XL release date, price, specs and features (www.itpro.co.uk)
  6. ^ The Verge (www.theverge.com)
  7. ^ Paul Thurrott (www.thurrott.com)
  8. ^ The Verge (www.theverge.com)
  9. ^ The Verge (www.theverge.com)
  10. ^ Ars Technica (arstechnica.com)
  11. ^ blog (blogs.windows.com)
  12. ^ Neowin (www.neowin.net)
  13. ^ also introduced (blogs.windows.com)
  14. ^ Gabe Alu blog (blogs.windows.com)
  15. ^ OS X 10.11 El Capitan – is it worth upgrading? (www.itpro.co.uk)
  16. ^ Official Windows Blog (blogs.windows.com)
  17. ^ Microsoft ditches negative privacy campaign against Google (www.itpro.co.uk)
  18. ^ Thurrott.com (www.thurrott.com)
  19. ^ larger-than-usual configuration change (www.petri.com)
  20. ^ Cortana (www.itpro.co.uk)
  21. ^ Hello and Securirty (www.itpro.co.uk)
  22. ^ Inquirer (www.theinquirer.net)
  23. ^ The Guardian (www.theguardian.com)
  24. ^ Surface Enterprise Initiative (www.itpro.co.uk)
  25. ^ now available (blogs.msdn.com)
  26. ^ is planning (blogs.windows.com)

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