Windows 10 is slated to be released on 29 July 2015. With less than four weeks to its launch, we have published answers to some of the questions that users might have before deciding on switching to the new operating system (OS).
Why Windows 10? The natural name would have been Windows 9, but Microsoft is eager to suggest a break with the past. Perhaps Microsoft did not like the idea of being numerically one step behind Apple's OS X. Whatever the reason, Windows 10 it will be.
How much will it cost? Users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 versions will be able to upgrade directly to Windows 10 free of charge for a full year. However, if you are not eligible for Microsoft's upgrade program — you decided to upgrade after the first year free offer, or if you are running a non-genuine Windows version or one older than Windows 7 — then Windows 10 Home will cost US$119 and Windows 10 Pro will cost $199 per license. And if you want to later upgrade from Windows 10 Home to Windows 10 Pro you will have to pay $99 more.
Microsoft has promised that it will support those who scored a free upgrade to Windows 10 with security and system updates for the lifetime of those Windows devices.
What devices will it run on? All of them; Windows 10 will be for desk-top computers, laptops, tablets, smartphones and embedded products, too. "It will run on the broadest types of devices ever, from the smallest 'Internet of things' device to enterprise data centers worldwide," said Terry Myerson, head of Microsoft's Operating Systems Group. "Some of these devices have 4-inch screens, and some will have 80-inch screens. And some don't have any screen at all."
Will it still be touch-enabled? Yes. Microsoft is obviously not giving up on touch. That means you will still be able to use touch to do things like scroll and pinch-to-zoom on laptops and desktops. There is also a new feature, called ‘Continuum’, for people using two-in-one PCs. When you detach the keyboard from a Windows 10 hybrid, it will ask if you want to go into tablet mode. If you say yes, the UI changes to better match a tablet. The app expands to full screen, for instance, and the start menu switches into a larger-icon mode.
Is there a start menu? There is, and it tries to combine the familiarity of Windows 7 with the modern interface of Windows 8. That means the menu is split: On the left, apps are displayed in the familiar Windows 7 style, while on the right are more colorful "live tiles" that open the modern, Windows 8-style apps.
Will there be two distinct app environments? Apparently not; in Windows 8, when you launch a modern-style app, it takes you into that modern UI, and when you launch a Win32-style app, it launches to the traditional desktop environment. In Windows 10, there is no such duality. With Windows 10, the familiar ‘Windows’ metaphor is back; you will be able to resize the new-style apps and drag them around the screen like an old Win32 app. Conversely, if you are using an older Win32-style app, it will be able to snap into place and fill all the available screen space just like the modern apps.
What else is new? Some users have been confused by the Windows 8 interface and cannot figure out what is open on their screen or how to get back to an app. Windows 10 has a feature that lets you zoom out and see everything that is open on a PC, then select any app to enter it.