Microsoft will offer customers already using Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Window Phone 8.1 a free upgrade to Windows 10 the first year after the OS launches. Windows 10 also represents the start of ‘Windows as a service”, with Microsoft promising to keep the OS up to date for the life of a customer’s device, at no extra charge. Enterprise customers will be offered more longer-term support, including enhanced security updates.
Other new features include the integration into Windows of Cortana, the personal assistant software already available for Windows phones, and the launch of a new web browser, with the code name ‘Project Spartan’. In addition Windows 10 will come with new apps for Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People & Messaging, and Mail & Calendar, and Microsoft will release new versions of its Office applications for Windows 10. An Xbox app will also allow users to stream games from the Xbox console to a Windows computer or tablet.
To highlight the new features of Windows 10, Microsoft also presented two new devices. Microsoft HoloLens is a new computing platform that can turn Windows apps into three-dimensional holographic images and interact with the user through a series of advanced sensors. For business environments, Microsoft presented the Surface Hub, a large screen with cameras, sensors and mics to support conferencing and presentations. It will be available in 55- and 84-inch versions.
Microsoft has been testing the new Windows since last September, through its Windows Insiders programme. Around 1.7 million people have joined the programme and provided over 800,000 pieces of feedback. In the next week, the company will release to Insiders the latest build for the Windows 10 Technical Preview on PCs and expand availability to 25 more languages. Later in February, the first technical preview for phones will be available. The company is expected to announce at its Build conference in April a final launch date for Windows 10, later in 2015.