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Xbox One and smartphone versions will land later this year

It's official, Windows 10 is launching in July.  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) posted to its official Windows blog that the new operating system (OS) would be distributed to customers in finished form on July 29.  

This launch date will notably only cover the PC version of Windows 10 -- which includes desktops, laptops, hybrid form factor laptops, and tablets.  Later this year Microsoft is expected to launch a smartphone version of Windows 10 (which will notably be available as a replacement ROM for Android from some OEMs/on some devices).  It will also launch versions of Windows 10 for the Xbox One and other form factors such as ARM Holdings plc (LON:ARM) architecture microcomputers.

Windows 10

Windows 10 is highly anticipated for several reasons.  For starters, it's the first time in its three and a half decade history that Microsoft has offered a major OS release for free to existing customers.  Second, Windows 10 marks a return to the company's OS roots with the Modern UI (Metro) style homepage going away, replaced by a scaleable start menu incorporating a mixture of Windows 7 Start Menu and Modern UI elements.

In other words, for traditional laptops and desktops Windows 10 will by default only use the Desktop mode.  Modern UI apps live alongside traditional ones on the desktop.  And while the new start menu has distinct Modern UI touches, it's more of an evolution of Windows 7, versus the radical departure we saw in Windows 8/8.1.

Windows 10 Build 10061

At the same time Windows 10 does preserve the Modern UI homepage in the one class of devices where it worked well -- tablet computers.  Hybrids will be able to default to Modern UI when they're in tablet mode, use the traditional Desktop mode when they're acting as a laptop.

Among the other major changes coming with Windows 10 include:
  • Cortana
    • A deeply integrated digital voice assistant found in the Taskbar and browser
Cortana


Project Spartan -- Reading
  • Continuum
    • Changes the interface to match screen size and type.  This means that in tablet or hybrids in tablet mode the Modern UI inteface is the default, while in traditional kinds of PCs (hybrids in laptop mode, laptops, and desktops) the Desktop mode is the default.  Continuum also provides a desktop mode when you connect your Windows 10 smartphone to a wireless HDMI capable display.
       
Windows 10

  • Universal Apps
    • Universal apps are similar in spirit to Continuum, this new kind of apps will be compatible and optimized with all supported Windows 10 devices and hardware architectures.  New APIs help developers to develop scaleable interfaces.  Universal Apps will be found in the Windows Store.
Windows 10 Universal apps


DeepFace -- an example of 3D facial recognition. [SOURCE: MIT Technology Review]
  • Xbox App
    • Xbox users can access social gaming features, news, and account controls from this new app.
  • Core Apps Refresh
    • Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People, Mail, and Calendar all receive major makeovers with new Modern UI apps.
Microsoft hints at a series of increasingly loud encouragements to users of Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 devices, encouraging them to upgrade.  For now it's rolled out a "Get Windows 10 App" to these plaftorms via Windows Update.

Found in the system tray the Get Windows 10 App allows users to confirm that they want Windows 10 as soon as it becomes available.  For those who don't enroll, it may take somewhat longer or require more manual steps to download and install Windows 10. Most users should probably enroll to ensure that Windows 10 is installed automatically and smoothly via Windows Update (although some more cautious or reticent adopters may wish to watch for problems on launch day before jumping in).

Windows 10 on Windows 7

Alongside the news of Windows 10's launch date, Microsoft has also rolled out Preview Build 10130 to its Fast Ring Insider Preview testers, including me.  Versus the last Fast Ring Preview Build (Build 10120) the changes in this update appear to be relatively minimal/subtle.  

Source: Microsoft [blog]





"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997






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