Windows 10, reviewed, became available on July 29 2015 in 190 markets globally as a free upgrade to customers running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. It's already been downloaded on more than 350 million devices, including the Xbox One, and on 2 August the free Anniversary Update will become available. Here's everything you need to know about the Windows 10 UK release date, price and new features. Update to Windows 10 before the free upgrade deadline on 29 July 2016.
Updated 25 July with general updates.
- Should I upgrade to Windows 10?
- Can my PC get Windows 10? Confusing Windows 10 upgrades explained
- How to download and install Windows 10 today
- Will my games run on Windows 10?
- Windows 10 for phones preview
Windows 10 UK release date: When is the Anniversary Windows 10 update coming out?
Windows 10 Anniversary Update UK release date: 2 August 2016
There's big news on the next major update. Microsoft has just announced at Build 2016 that an 'Anniversary Update' is coming this summer. We now know that this will become available on 2 August.
Microsoft also reiterated that its free update to Windows 10 offer is valid until 29 July - click here for how to upgrade to Windows 10 now, and our advice on whether you should upgrade to Windows 10. If you haven't yet upgraded, you might be seeing the full-screen notification below. This is further evidence that Microsoft really will stop offering Windows 10 for free.
The Anniversary Update will include improvements to Cortana, Windows Hello and Ink. In particular, the Edge browser will support biometric logins so you'll be able to easily sign into websites with your fingerprint, for example.
Microsoft demonstrated build 14306 at the Build developers conference, showing how you'll be able to use your Surface Pen to make everyday tasks a lot easier. Whether that's jotting down a reminder on a sticky note (Cortana can then automatically add a reminder) or drawing a route on a map, the Pen will become hugely more useful on Surface tablets.
Another update said to be coming to Windows 10 is the ability to unlock Windows 10 devices using wearable tech. Microsoft is opening up its Windows Hello feature to allow wearables to unlock a Windows 10 PC, and at Computex 2016 showed how this was possible using the Microsoft Band. According to The Verge, Microsoft is also testing an update to its Authenticator app that will allow Windows 10 Mobile devices to unlock a PC.
The Windows 10 Anniversary Update will be required for Xbox Play Anywhere, announced at E3, which is due to arrive on 13 September. This will allow gamers to play compatible cross-platform games on both Windows 10 and Xbox.
Windows 10 has had its fair share of teething troubles, with some people claiming Microsoft launched an unfinished product too early just to hit a deadline. Whether true or not, Windows 10 is different from previous versions of the operating system: it's now a service rather than a standalone piece of software. In practice, that means it will be getting regular updates and changing over time.Think of it more like Google's Chrome web browser: you don't worry about which version you're running. Instead automatic updates bring improvements and new features regularly. So it is for Windows 10; we won't be be waiting for a Windows 11 - we might instead have to get used to calling it simply "Windows".
There have already been updates to the operating system since launch - and much lamenting over their forced nature - but the biggest update was what Microsoft called the 'Windows 10 Fall Update'. This arrived on November 12 and had several new features, none of which were particularly significant (and some of which were meant to be included in the 29 July release):
- New, pre-installed Messaging and Skype Video apps
- Improved context menus
- Coloured title bars for apps
- Extra column of tiles for Start menu
- Ability to send text messages via Cortana (if you have a Windows 10 mobile phone)
- Improvements to Microsoft Edge, including tab preview.
What you won't see is support for extensions in Microsoft Edge. According to rumours this will be added in an update some time this year.
Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Podcast discussion
What about Windows Phone 10?
If you're also interested in Windows 10 mobile, check out the Lumia 950 and 950 XL. If you have a compatible Lumia Windows Phone you can install Windows 10 on your phone. For the latest on a release date - and when your phone will get upgraded to Windows 10 mobile, see When is Windows 10 mobile coming out?
Windows 10 UK price: How much does Windows 10 cost?
Windows 10 is free to end users. At least it will be a free upgrade for a lot of people. which ends on 29 July 2016. Users of Windows 7, Windows 8.1 Update, and most Windows Phone 8 devices can upgrade to Windows 10 on their devices, for free. This is guaranteed for the first year of the new OS's shelf life, but we would be surprised if it didn't remain free - depending on uptake. For more detail, see Will my PC get Windows 10?
Suffice to say that in the face of Apple giving away OS X, and declining PC sales, it was always unlikely that Microsoft would charge for Windows 10. Add in the fact that Windows 10 is aimed at smartphones and tablets just as much as desktop PCs and laptops and you can see that there really isn't much of a market for selling the upgrade.
See also: How to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10.
Enterprise customers are not part of the free upgrade deal, however. Jim Alkove, director of programme management, wrote in a blog post:
"Windows 7 Enterprise and Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise are not included in the terms of the free Windows 10 upgrade offer we announced last week, given that active Software Assurance customers will continue to have rights to upgrade to Windows 10 enterprise offerings outside this offer, while also benefiting from the full flexibility to deploy Windows 10 using their existing management infrastructure."
How to get Windows 10
So, how do you get your hands on a copy of Windows 10? These days it's harder not to upgrade to Windows 10. If you have an eligible system you will have seen countless notifications. We've explained how to try to put a stop to Windows 10 nag messages, but it only makes sense for a minority of users not to upgrade.
Windows 10 is available through Windows Update so if you have selected automatic updates you should find it has already been downloaded and is ready to install when you go to Windows Update in the Control Panel. For more, see How to upgrade to Windows 10.
Installation time may vary between computers, but Microsoft claims that it could take as little as 20 minutes on a high spec machine – so we estimate it’ll take around an hour for regular PCs.
New features in Windows 10
Perhaps the biggest news about Windows 10 is that it will be - in Microsoft's words, "One product family, one platform, one store". For the desktop version of Windows 10, there will be no more 'duality', as Microsoft's Joe Belfiore put it. That means no more split personality between modern apps and the 'old' desktop.
Here are what we think are the best 10 new features in Windows 10, including Cortana, multiple desktops, a proper start menu and more.
Windows 10: why is it called Windows 10?
During the short briefing in San Francisco when Microsoft unveiled Windows 10 (see below), it made it clear that it would be very much unified across all types of devices with screen sizes from 4 inches to 80 inches. It confirmed that the next version of Windows Phone - after 8.1 - would be 10 and said, "This product, when you see the product in your fullness I think you'll agree with us that it's a more appropriate name."
When questioned about ARM-based Surface tablets, the answer was, "we're building the software to update vast majority of devices out there." However, it was then confirmed the Surface tablets with ARM processors won't be upgradeable to Windows 10.
Microsoft's Terry Myerson summed it up with, "Windows 10 represents the first step of a whole new generation of Windows, unlocking new experiences to give customers new ways to work, play and connect. This will be our most comprehensive operating system and the best release Microsoft has ever done for our business customers, and we look forward to working together with our broader Windows community to bring Windows 10 to life in the months ahead."