Microsoft confirmed that Windows 10 is coming on July 29. The software is coming to 190 countries. Windows is currently used by 1.5 billion people globally. The consumers can reserve their copy of the new operating system starting Monday. The software is free during the first year if you're upgrading a new or existing Windows 7, or Windows 8.1 device; Microsoft hasn't specified pricing beyond that.
Owners of PCs with Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 will receive pop-up notifications alerting them of Windows 10's impending arrival. Windows XP and older systems are not compatible with Windows 10.
"I think Windows 10 represents us listening and understanding what real people need better than we have before," says Joe Belfiore, Microsoft's corporate vice president for the operating systems group.
In the past, upgrading a Windows computer to a newly-minted version of the operating system has been too often a messy experience. Belfiore is confident that the path to Windows 10 "is going to be way, way, way better."
Over the past six to nine months, Microsoft has been updating the installed base of Windows 7 and Windows 8 PCs — hundreds of millions of machines. Microsoft has essentially been rehearsing for the upgrade with the more than 4 million people testing builds of Windows 10 as part of the Windows Insider program.The promise is that PCs will boot up and run apps faster, be more secure, and, in the case of laptops, boast longer battery life.
On its 20th anniversary, the Start menu for launching apps has been dramatically improved. It gains "live tiles" and is fully customizable. Windows 10 also unveils a snappy new Edge browser that pushes Internet Explorer into retirement and Microsoft's virtual voice assistant Cortana is at your beck and call.
On newer hardware you'll also be able to exploit a Continuum feature to seamlessly transform from a mouse/keyboard-driven PC to a touch-oriented tablet or vice versa. On some systems, you'll be able to log in with your face, iris or fingerprint.
There's also a fresh version of Office, improved support for gamers and new built-in Photos, Maps, Music and other apps. Universal apps are meant to run across the entire Windows 10 ecosystem: PCs, tablets, phones, Xbox One.