Windows 10, reviewed, has now been out for three 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 110 million PCs according to Microsoft, and in November it will come to the Xbox One. Here's everything you need to know about the Windows 10 UK release date, price and new features.
- 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?
- Should I upgrade to Windows 10?
- Windows 10 for phones preview
Windows 10 UK release date: When is Windows 10 Fall Update coming out?
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. We won't be be waiting for a Windows 11 - Windows 10 will have features added and changes made to the interface as time goes on.
There have already been updates - and much lamenting over their forced nature - but within the next few days we're expecting a bigger update which Microsoft is calling the Windows 10 Fall Update. This will have several new features, none of which are 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
What you won't see is support for extensions in Microsoft Edge. According to rumours this will be added in an update some time in 2016.
The first Windows 10 mobile devices will be the Lumia 950 and 950 XL
However, if you have a compatible Lumia Windows Phone you can try out Windows 10 mobile. We explain how to install Windows 10 on your phone.
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?
Enterprise customers are not part of the 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."
When we started this article we said that we thought Windows 10 would be free to consumers, although not to OEMs who purchase licences to put on PCs and laptops they sell. Microsoft had previously declined to answer direct questions about how much Windows 10 will cost, particularly for people upgrading from Windows 7 or XP saying, "we want to talk about the overall product family [at this stage]". But now we know, as expected, that the Windows 10 upgrade will be free.
See also: How to upgrade from Windows XP to Windows 10.
Microsoft is trying to make the upgrade as pain-free as possible for these users, with direct upgrades allowing settings and apps to remain in place. However, XP and Vista users must do a fresh installation if they want to use Windows 10. And they will have to pay.
As of 26 June 2015, Microsoft officially announced that Windows 10 will cost the same as Windows 8.1 in the UK. That means Windows 10 Home costs roughly £85 and Windows 10 Professional will cost around £150. These are the prices you'll pay currently on Amazon.
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.
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. Alternatively, you should see a notification pop up in the lower-right corner of your screen informing you that Windows 10 is available and that Microsoft is offering a limited time free upgrade. If it doesn’t pop up click the small Windows icon in your task bar and it should appear.
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.
What about Windows Phone 10?
Windows 10 will run on phones, tablets, laptops and PCs. It will not be called Windows Phone 10 on smartphones: it will be Windows 10 Mobile. The Technical Preview was made available in early February, and Gabriel Aul, the head of the Windows Insider program and point man for Microsoft's Windows 10 technical preview program, confirmed the launch of another Preview on April 10.
While Microsoft has dramatically increased the number of phones that Windows 10 preview supports, there's a small piece of bad news: the Lumia Icon and its international variant, the 930, won't be part of the update. For the full story, see: Windows Phone 10 UK release date, price and new features. and How to install Windows 10 on your phone
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."
Below follows the rest of our original article containing all the rumours building up to the 30 September 2014 event:
A leaked document, obtained my Myce.com, shows some interesting details about Windows 9, including the 'fact' that the Preview version is scheduled for release between "Q2-Q3 2015". This means the official launch is unlikely to be in April 2015 as previously thought. The Q2-Q3 window is huge, of course, and the Preview could therefore appear any time between April and September 2015. It's possible there will be Christmas 2015 launch to consumers and, given that everything never goes to plan with a new Windows launch, we wouldn't be surprised if you can't buy a new laptop, PC or tablet with Windows 9 until then.
The document has a section detailing 'update items' which include changes to the Metro UI (Microsoft still calls the modern UI Metro internally, apparently), Windows Defender, OneDrive and improved Windows activation. There's also a mention of Cortana, Windows Phone 8.1′s personal assistant, which could mean it's coming to Windows 9.
Windows 9 Technical Preview leaked
Ahead of the 30 September event, the Windows 9 Technical Preview has been leaked on Winsupersite. The build number is 9841, although the site in unsure whether this is the exact build of the public Technical Preview.
Plenty of information (which we've outlined below) has already been available about Windows 9 including the return of the Start Menu - although it combines the old style Windows 7 style with Windows 8 Starts Screen functionality. New information is that the feature will be resizable.
We've heard that the Charms bar (that bit which pops in from the right) would be gone from Windows 9. However, Winsupersite says that it's still present on touch-based systems but can only be accessed with touch, not a mouse pointer.
Task view (above and shown in one of the videos below) is used to switch between apps and is opened via a button on the taskbar. File Explorer, meanwhile, will open with a new Home view as the default, showing things like favourite folders, recent folders and recent files.
Windows 9 leaked videos
Before we even get to 30 September, videos supposedly showing Windows 9 have been leaked online. They show a unified Notification Center, demonstrate multi-desktop (Task view) and the start menu. Watch the videos below but bear in mind that things could change by the time the final version arrives.
Windows 9: No Charms bar
Winbeta claims that in Windows 9, Microsoft will do away with the Charms bar – that menu which pops in from the right with buttons like search, share, start and settings. However, the site is talking about Windows 9 on the desktop as the feature will remain as it is on tablets - this matches up with the information from Winsupersite above.
If you're wondering what the new regime will be, Winbeta said: "One method that we heard about that stands out is having a button up near the window controls that once pressed, would reveal the Search, Share, Devices and Settings charms from the top of the window (there's no need for a Start Button for desktop users in the charms.)"
"Another idea Microsoft have been toying with is removing the Charms completely. While it's possible, we're not entirely sure how that would work," it added.
Windows 9: Start menu returns
As we explain below we are certain that the new Windows update known as 'Threshold' will grow up to be Windows 9. And we expect Windows 9 to launch at some stage in early 2015, probably April 2015. This week we have seen what its claimed are leaked screenshots of Windows 9. Just to confuse things, these shots are labelled 'Windows 8.1 Pro', but that is consistant with what we have been hearing about the Threshold build that will eventually become Windows 9.
Windows-watchers at Myce.com and Neowin have shown off screenshots of the new Start menu in Windows 9. There's also a shot of the new Windows Store in Windows 9. Click the Windows 9 screenshots to view them at full size.
Windows 9 screenshots
Look to the lefthand side of the new Start menu in both Start menu shots and you can see a list of recently used apps and the option to select a list of 'All apps'. One interesting point to note is that 'All apps' appears to include both Desktop- and Metro apps. The key to Windows 9 is marrying up the two disparate elements of Windows 8 in a way that makes sense to consumers. This way Microsoft can satisfy both those users who miss the Start menu, and also make Metro apps more useful.
Microsoft hasn't lost its taste for uncomfortable compromise, however. Strong rumours suggest that the expanded Start menu will appear within a more 'Desktop' Start screen and in the Desktop for PC- and laptops users. But that the same, expanded, Start menu may take over the entire Start screen for tablets and other smaller touchscreen devices.
Now look over to the right for another symbol of the same movement. To the right of the apps list is an area with pinned Metro apps. So as now you can see from the Start screen live tiles for important apps such as weather, mail, news, and calendar. Just as now the new Windows 9 Start screen is customisable, it seems, but here you can also pin Desktop Windows software. On both sets of screenshots you can see icons for the Pictures and Documents folders, as well as what looks like a 'My PC' tile that gets you straight into the file system.
Windows Phone 9
Talking of Cortana, the document also mentions Windows Phone 9, which is tagged alongside Windows 9 for a Q2-Q3 Preview release. We're only just seeing new smartphones running Windows Phone 8.1 - the first version to feature Cortana - but in a year's time Windows Phone 8 will be consigned to the history book. Let's just hope that existing hardware will be upgradeable and that owners don't end up in the same situation as Windows Phone 7 buyers did.
Based on Microsoft's Build 2014 developer conference, we've put together an article looking at the future of Windows - beyond even Windows 9.
Microsoft partners will be getting a pre-beta version of Windows Developer Preview 9 soon, we understand. Thus those partners will have seen the earliest version of Windows 9 before the Build conference this April.
We expect to see a single beta of Windows 9, which will likely appear in the summer of 2014. If everything goes perfectly it is possible that Microsoft will release a Release Candidate version at the end of August or the beginning of September 2014. That date could easily slip.
Once a RC is released, bugs will be collected and fixed for several months before the final code is released to manufacturers. On this basis, it makes sense to see a Preview version from April 2015 onwards. (See also: How to use Windows 8: 10 tips to get you started on Windows 8.)
Windows 9 features
We expect that Windows 9 will be 64-bit only, although we expected that for Windows 8 and we were wrong. A lot depends - as ever with Microsoft - on what OEMs want to build, and what Intel gives them with which to build.
One thing that Microsoft has to do is allow Windows Phone and Windows RT apps to run on both Windows Phone and Windows. Even Xbox apps should become cross compatible. You may also be able to pin Metro apps to the taskbar. Also expect to see Kinect-based 3D gestures to be enabled for laptops with 3D cameras - basically the ability to control your computer with gestures.
Microsoft's recent pronouncements suggest a full return of the Start menu and that Windows 8-style apps will be able to run on the desktop. Windows 9 will definitely be less traumatic a chance for desktop users.
One key - although less obvious - development is likely to be much improved power management. The rise of mobile devices has made battery life a key battle ground for Windows. Intel has done its part, massively improving power management with its latest generation of mobile processors. But the Windows software needs to keep pace, so expect Microsoft to make great claims for Windows 9's power management capabilities.