Windows 10, reviewed, is out today. It's a free upgrade to customers running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. Here's everything you need to know about the Windows 10 UK release date, price and new features. Read: Will my PC get Windows 10? Confusing Windows 10 upgrades explained.
Update 29 July: We know people are having trouble upgrading to Windows 10. Notifications aren't showing up and the 'Get Windows 10' program has disappeared altogether. Well good news: you can still install it straight away. We've put together a guide explaining how to download and install Windows 10 today. If you're having problems and they aren't solved by this guide, let us know in the comments below.
Update 28 July: Just hours to go before Windows 10 starts rolling out around the world. Those in New Zealand should be the first to see the upgrade prompt, but it's still unconfirmed whether everyone who reserved Windows 10 ahead of the launch will be able to install it on 29 July. There will be no queues at midnight in each country, of course, as most people just need to wait for the new OS to download for free via their broadband connection. You can find out more about how to install Windows 10 in our step-by-step guide.
Those wanting a brand new laptop, PC or tablet built to take advantage of new features in Windows 10 such as Windows Hello (watch the video at the top) will be able to order one tomorrow. For example, Dell's new Inspiron 15 5000 laptops start at £429 with Windows 10 pre-installed, and the enthusiast-level XPS 13 starts at £949.
You can also take a look at the 20 best laptops available to buy in the UK right now.
Microsoft has also made a launch site for Windows 10, but we're a little disappointed it couldn't find a 10th reason to upgrade - the release date isn't even correct!
Update 27 July: If your computer isn't eligible for a free upgrade to Windows 10 (typically those running Windows XP or Vista) you can pre-order the OEM version (unboxed DVD) from various retailers for under £80 for the Home version and under £120 for the Pro version. Amazon is listing the official boxed versions - also on DVD - for £99 and £171 respectively.
Microsoft has also released a 'troubleshooter package' which is specifically for those running the preview version of Windows 10. It may also be available in the release version, and addresses the issue which has concerned many people who don't like the idea of forced updates. We talked about this in the 21 July update: Windows 10 bundles driver updates along with security- and other patches. Over the weekend, a bad Nvidia update caused aggravation with multimonitor setups (among other things). The new tool allows you to block specific things within an update to prevent the problematic driver or update from reinstalling automatically the next time Windows Updates are installed.
Update 24 July: Just five days to go before the official launch, and reports are coming in that PCs which will go on sale next Wednesday are running build 10240. We mentioned earlier in the week that it was all but confirmed that Windows 10 was basically finished in this build, and the removal of the version watermark on the desktop was a big clue that this would be the 'shipping' version.
Finished, though, is the wrong word. With Windows 10, there is no 'final build' or 'RTM' as the new update regime (see 21 July update below) means that everyone will always have the latest build and that the version everyone will get on 29 July is by no means the completed operating system. It should be feature complete and shouldn't have (too many) bugs but there will inevitably be teething problems, incompatibilities with obscure hardware and other issues to iron out. Apps will be updated regularly via the Windows store, just as the are in Windows 8.1 and on Windows Phone 8.1.
See also: Will my games run on Windows 10?
Update 23 July: Microsoft is holding launch events around the world on 29 July - no big surprise there. As well as music and 'interactive experiences' there will also be Windows 10 machinery to try out and help and upgrade advice on offer. However, the big news is that the company is switching to a new scheme whereby customers will get 10 years of support for Windows 10 from the day they first start using it. So if you buy a laptop with Windows 10 in 2019, you'll have guaranteed support for the operating system until 2029. There's one caveat: the hardware will have to be able to support the updates during that decade. This means that if your laptop has a hard drive too small to cope with the Windows updates (an unlikely scenario, granted) then your machine would no longer be eligible for support.
Update 21 July: Two patches have been released for build 10240, giving an even clearer indication that this will be the 'final' build of Window 10 which gets pushed out to users who have reserved their upgrade ahead of the launch. The updates are KB3074663 and KB3074665, but the lack of information about them from Microsoft is already causing concern among users and in the media. Windows 10 will remove the option to decline updates: you'll have the option to install them immediately or at the next reboot. The problem is that updates can cause a range of problems and with no way to prevent them, some are already deciding not to upgrade on day one.
The other issue is that Microsoft has been bundling security- and non-security related updates together for the Insider builds. In previous versions of Windows, Microsoft identified non-security updates separately, each with its own support document. You were also able to uninstall them individually. We don't know whether this kind of update bundling will continue with the release version of Windows 10, or if it will remain a practice limited to Windows Insider builds. We'll have to wait and see.
Update 17 July:
Windows Hello: One of the new features in Windows 10 is called Windows Hello and will let you log in with your face (or a fingerprint). You can see how it works in the video above. Instead of tediously typing a password, an infrared camera will recognise your face or iris and unlock your computer. Because it's biometric, it's more secure than a password, too. If your existing computer has a fingerprint reader, it should work with Windows 10. A standard webcam won't cut it, though: your laptop or PC monitor will need an Intel RealSense 3D camera. You'll be able to buy one separately for around £60, and it won't just be useful for unlocking your PC or laptop - it will also work as a 3D scanner! There are 10 laptops already confirmed to be shipping with RealSense cameras including the Asus N551JQ, Asus ROG G771JM, Dell Inspiron 15 5548, Acer Aspire V 17 Nitro, Dell Inspiron 23 7000, Lenovo ThinkPad E550, Lenovo ThinkPad Yoga 15 and HP Envy 15t Touch RealSense.
Forced updates: Certain people who clearly have time on their hands have been scouring the EULA (end-user licence agreement) in build 10240 - details of which are below - and have confirmed that Microsoft is bringing no-warning updates to Windows 10. Gone will be the old system of picking and choosing which updates you want to install. If you install Windows 10 and agree to the EULA then, "By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice".
Update 15 July: Yesterday evening, Microsoft announced Build 10240. It's significant for several reasons. First, it's available to Insiders on both the Fast and Slow rings. Second, it has no build version watermark on the desktop. In the blog post, Gabe Aul said, "this build is one step closer to what customers will start to receive on 7/29". However, The Verge said that sources inside Microsoft confirmed it was the final RTM build which is being signed off internally and will be officially announced as the 'release to manufacturing' version in the next few days. That means that if you're an insider, you'll basically have the release version installed on your PC, laptop or tablet. It's just two weeks until Windows 10 launches now, which means that if 10240 is the release build, Microsoft will spend the time between now and 29 July creating patches to fix bugs - these will be downloaded by anyone agreeing to get the latest updates online during their Windows 10 installation. Here's how to install Windows 10, explained step-by-step
Update 15 July: Microsoft has released final versions of the Office for Windows 10 apps. They're called Word Mobile, Excel Mobile, PowerPoint Mobile and OneNote. They're the 'free' versions of the Office apps which have a cut-down feature set compared to the Full Office 2016 suite. However, for home users who need the ability to create and edit basic documents, the apps are ideal.
Update 8 July: There's gaming news in the form of Minecraft: Windows 10 Edition Beta. Essentially a port of Minecraft: Pocket Edition, the game will be FREE to all 20 million (plus) people who have already bought the PC edition of Minecraft . It will be available from the Windows Store in beta form as the game develops. During that undetermined period, anyone who doesn't already have the PC edition can download it for $10.
Update 1 July: It's the month of the Windows 10 launch and Microsoft has released another build for the Windows Insider Fast ring. Build 10159 and Build 10158 were released in just two days and the latest comes with more than 300 fixes.
Update, 24 June: After some confusion, Microsoft has clarified that Windows 10 Insiders running the preview build will get the final version and get to keep it. You just need to keep opted in for pre-release updates. "Since we’re continuing the Windows Insider Program you’ll be able to continue receiving builds and those builds will continue to be activated under the terms of the Windows Insider Program," explained Microsoft’s Gabe Aul.
Update, 17 June: At E3 2015, Microsoft confirmed it will bring Xbox-only games to Windows 10 including Gears of War: Ultimate Edition and Killer Instinct. "We’re going to allow people to play on PC, to play on console, to play back and forth.” Re-watch the press conference here.
Update, 1 June: Microsoft today announced that Windows 10 will be available beginning July 29 in 190 markets around the world. Customers with PCs and laptops running Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be able to get Windows 10 as a free upgrade. Consumers will have one year from July 29 to take advantage of the free upgrade.
Once a Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, Microsoft will continue to keep it current for the supported lifetime of the device—at no cost. Those who want to be among the first in line for the free Windows 10 upgrade can reserve a free copy in the coming weeks.
Build 10130 of the Windows 10 Insider Preview is now available for the Fast ring. Cortana is fully working for UK users, but there's still no support for streaming games from the Xbox One. The new web browser - Microsoft Edge - also features Cortana. You can right-click on just about anything to 'Ask Cortana' for more information.
Windows 10 UK release date: When is Windows 10 coming out?
The latest build of Windows 10 is available to insider testers now. If you have a compatible Lumia Windows Phone you can even try out an early version of the mobile Windows 10. (See: How to install Windows 10 now and how to install Windows 10 on your phone.
The final version will ship as soon as this summer 2015. Microsoft announced today that Windows 10 will start to roll out on July 29, in almost 200 markets around the world. Previously, Microsoft at Microsoft's re-born WinHEC conference in Shenzhen, attendees were told that Windows 10 will roll out in 190 countries and 111 languages.
Kevin Turner, Chief Operating Officer at Microsoft had said in late 2014: "By next late summer and early fall we'll be able to bring out this particular OS (operating system). That's the current plan of record," according to Reuters. This means Windows 10 is slightly ahead of schedule, and the upgrade will be ready to go in late July or August. We will bring more details of the UK launch as we have them.
At Build 2015, Microsoft said that Windows 10 will launch in several staggered events from summer onwards, each geared toward different devices with PCs coming first. "The way to think about it will be a launch wave that starts in the summer with PCs, and fills out over time as more devices come online," said Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president of the operating systems group at Microsoft. There's still not a confirmed date for any of these launch events, though Belfiore said that Microsoft is still on track for this summer. See also: How to use virtual desktops in Windows 10.
"You should expect [the] phone, HoloLens, Xbox, and Surface Hub [launches] will be staggered," Belfiore explained, because of the complexity of coordinating hardware and software launches.
Although Microsoft was present at CES, it scheduled a Windows 10 event in Redmond back in January in order to "talk about the next chapter of Windows 10". Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore, Phil Spencer and Satya Nadella all presented. See also: How to watch Microsoft's January 21 Windows 10 event and live blog.
Windows 10 UK price: How much will Windows 10 cost?
Windows 10 will be 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 will be able to 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?
It was also discovered that the Raspberry Pi 2 might be able to run Windows 10, and that it would be freely available to those customers.
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 hoping 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 has officially announced that Windows 10 will cost the same as Windows 8.1 in the UK. That means Windows 10 Home will cost roughly £80 and Windows 10 Professional will cost around £140. These are the prices you'll pay for Windows 8.1 currently from 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 reserve Windows 10
So, how do you get your hands on a copy of Windows 10? Windows has organised a reservation service for Windows users to guarantee that they get Windows 10 on launch day. How will it work? Automatic download of course!
If you’re currently running either Windows 7 or 8.1, you should see a notification pop up in the lower-right corner of your screen informing you that Windows 10 is coming and that Microsoft is offering a limited time free upgrade. If it doesn’t pop up, have no fear – click the small Windows icon in your task bar and it should appear.
The icon should appear if you’ve got Windows Update enabled, but if you don’t, there’s another way to register. You just have to navigate to the Control Panel and click on the Windows Update menu.
Click on “reserve your free upgrade” in the app window and enter your email address to confirm that your registration has been approved. Once the OS is released on 29 July, you should receive a notification that allows you to schedule the installation time at a time that suits you. The update should’ve already been downloaded in the background.
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. At least you don’t have to wait for the download first!
It’s worth noting that you’ll still be able to download and install your free copy of Windows 10 without reservation, but you won’t have it pre-downloaded in the background.
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, it made it clear that the next version 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 has now become clear that Surface tablets 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."
Windows 10: What's Bill Gates got to do with it?
The co-founder and former CEO of Microsoft has been working with the company on a project called Personal Agent, which is in essence an advanced personal assistant.
"One project I am working on with Microsoft is the Personal Agent which will remember everything and help you go back and find things and help you pick what things to pay attention to," he told Reddit. "The idea that you have to find applications and pick them and they each are trying to tell you what is new is just not the efficient model - the agent will help solve this. It will work across all your devices."
Below follows the rest of our original article containing all the rumours building up to the September 30th 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.