08 Jul 2015

The Big Reveal: What to expect from Windows 10

With the 29 July fast approaching, the Windows 10’s formal release is just around the corner. Customers have been able to pre-order systems that will ship with it, and phones and other devices that will use the operating system are starting to build the hype for the launch.

It’s not all been smooth sailing thought and there have been some confusion about the launch and free upgrade deal, which Microsoft has acted swiftly to address. Customers on Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 get a copy of Windows 10 on launch date for free. People using Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate, or Windows 8 and 8.1 Pro, will be upgraded to Windows 10 Pro for free instead. People who also helped to test the operating system through the Windows 10 preview system, will also get a copy for free but only as long as they remain opted-in to future preview updates.

Confusing? We know. To paraphrase, people who are downloading and installing the Windows 10 preview copies now – in order to qualify for the free copy of the full product – will not be able to opt out of future pre-release updates after the proper release of the OS. If you do opt out of the updates (which will continue after the full version has been released), you will need to then purchase a new license to continue using Windows 10.

That confusion aside, in addition to the productivity enhancements that the new OS will bring to the table, Microsoft is also positioning it as the future of entertainment. The E3 gaming expo in June saw Microsoft take to the stage to announce a close partnership with Facebook company, Oculus, to make Windows 10 support VR technology natively. This is a big deal when current OS systems recognised VR headsets as “monitors” and need to be calibrated, which is a nightmare for people that are less tech savvy.

Furthermore, Microsoft itself has invested in an augmented reality headset, HoloLens. This will be a Windows 10-based hardware gadget that will allow people to “project” their games onto their home furniture and the like. Microsoft demoed this at E3 showing people playing Minecraft on their tabletops.

The intention of Windows 10 is to have PC, smartphone and Xbox One interact with one another with greater fluidity than ever before. You’ll be able to stream games from the Xbox One and Xbox 360 to the PC if you wish. Windows 10 will also include a Phone Companion app that will allow users to easily set up and sync their phone and their Windows 10 PC.

For work applications, the new Windows 10 OS will offer OneNote and Outlook for free. Launching at the same time as the OS will also be new Office 2016 applications for Word, Excel and PowerPoint. These will be sold separately, though you will of course be able to continue using Windows 365 if you’re a subscriber to that service.

Current predictions are that Microsoft’s new operating system will see uptake stronger than even its much-lauded Windows 7 launch. According to Gartner, a full 50 per cent of PCs in enterprises can be expected to be running Windows 10 by the end of 2018, which would be double the rate in which Windows 7 would be adopted.

It’s an ambitious target, but with Microsoft facing increasingly sharp competition across a range of devices and applications from the likes of Google, Apple and Amazon, its essential that the Windows 10 operating system create measurable competitive advantage. Microsoft’s greatest strength is the way that its portfolios encompass consumer and enterprise alike, and bringing all of that together to run off the one OS may well turn out to be the masterstroke that the company has been looking for.