Windows 10, reviewed, has now been out for six months. It 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 200 million PCs according to Microsoft, and in November it arrived on the Xbox One. Here's everything you need to know about the Windows 10 UK release date, price and new features.

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Windows 10 UK release date: When is the next Windows 10 update coming out?

Update 27 January 2016: There's no news on the next major update. Microsoft has just announced the latest build for Insiders (people signed up to receive beta versions), which is build 11102. That's for Insiders on the 'fast ring' which get more regular updates than those on the 'slow ring'. As Gabe Aul says in the blog post announcing 11102, there are known bugs so it's worth holding off updating if you think they will affect you. This latest build adds one main feature: a history menu in Microsoft Edge. When you right-click on the back and forward buttons you getquick access to your recently visited websites. So for most people, it's pretty insignificant.

Previous updates

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.

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. 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?

If you have a PC or laptop running XP or Vista and you want to upgrade, Windows 10 home costs £99.99 to download from Microsoft's online store. If you want Windows 10 Pro, that costs £189.99.

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."