The much ballyhooed release of Windows 10 is nearing, as Microsoft polishes its features and adds devices to the list of compatible hardware that can run the new operating system. While Microsoft has not yet publically announced an official release date for its newest operating system, several media sources, including the respected PC Magazine (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2483522,00.asp), are reporting that the initial release for personal computers will be this summer, with other versions of Windows 10 being released for other devices shortly after the original PC release.
Microsoft is intending that Windows 10 will not just be a new operating system for PCs, but that it will also run on countless other devices including smart phones, tablets, Xboxes, the “Internet of Things (IoT)”, and other hardware devices. According to PC Magazine, “Redmond has pledged to put the OS on 1 billion devices by 2018 and all this week, the software giant is exhorting developers to help with that effort.” Windows 10 is explicitly designed to run on multiple and diverse hardware platforms, allowing the user to easily and seamlessly go from one type of device to another. Windows 10 is also designed to utilize different input methods including voice controls (Microsoft’s Cortana application), traditional keyboard and mouse, touch screen, and other forms of input.
Microsoft is still planning to offer the new Windows 10 operating system as a free upgrade for PCs running Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 for the first year after it is released; after the free offer expires, the upgrade to Windows will be commercially available for sale, but the price has not yet been announced. At the official Microsoft Windows 10 website at windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-10/about, Microsoft has reiterated its offer for a free upgrade to Windows 10 by posting, “Great news! We will offer a free upgrade to Windows 10 for qualified new or existing Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year! And even better: once a qualified Windows device is upgraded to Windows 10, we will continue to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device, keeping it more secure, and introducing new features and functionality over time – for no additional charge. Sign up with your email today, and we will send you more information about Windows 10 and the upgrade offer in the coming months.”
There have also been published stories that since Microsoft sees Windows 10 as much as a “service” as it does an operating system, Microsoft is rumored to also allow Windows 10 to be installed freely on computers running pirated versions of Windows 7 and 8.1, during its free upgrade period. Microsoft has announced that the free upgrade version of Windows 10 will be supported for the life of the operating system, and free updates and improved features will be provided during its functional lifetime, or the lifetime of the devices on which it is installed. The minimum system requirements for PCs in order for Windows 10 to run satisfactorily is quite low, only requiring a 1 GHz processor speed; 1 GB of RAM (memory) for 32 bit systems, 2 GB RAM for 64 bit systems; an 800×600 graphics display; and 16 GB (32 bit) to 20 GB (64 bit) of hard drive storage. While these minimum system requirements are quite low, with virtually all PCs currently running Windows 7 or 8.1 exceeding these minimum requirements, Microsoft does recommend greater system capabilities in order to have improved performance.
Among the many new features that will be incorporated into Windows 10 will be a totally new internet browser replacing the classical Internet Explorer; this new browser Microsoft is now calling “Microsoft Edge”, will be compliant with all of the new web standards. This new Microsoft Edge browser is designed to give its users a more reliable and consistent level of web performance. With literally millions of apps (applications) currently available for Android and iOS (Apple) devices, Microsoft is courting those app developers, and providing them with SDKs (Software Development Kits) to encourage the developers to produce versions of their apps that will run on Windows 10 devices, thus making devices running Windows 10, especially smart phones, more attractive to users. This could be a boon to Windows 10 powered smart phones, as there are only about 300,000 Windows smart phone apps currently available, which is only a small fraction of the apps currently available for Android and iOS devices. Microsoft is also encouraging the app developers to modify and port their apps to desktop computers running Windows 10.
As had been previously announced by Microsoft, the “Cortana” voice operated feature will be available on devices running Windows 10. Cortana is a competitor to the newly released Google speech activated feature, and the heavily promoted Siri voice activated electronic assistant currently available on newer Apple iOS products. Cortana, and the competitive voice recognition apps from Google and Apple’s Siri, all can be used to launch apps and other software, perform searches, add events to the calendar, and intelligently respond to voice initiated queries.
For those who may wish to try a “beta” or pre-release version of Windows 10, Microsoft has made the new operating system available as a free download directly from Microsoft at windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso. Users of this “beta” version must be aware that as a pre-release version, there will likely be bugs in the new operating system, but Microsoft is also offering support and frequent and periodic updates to the “beta” version, these updates also include new and updated features that are in need of widespread testing. According to Microsoft, “Windows Update will be set to automatically install important updates as they become available. You won’t be able to turn off automatic updates in Windows 10 Insider Preview.”
The free “beta” release of Windows 10 is downloaded as an ISO formatted file, which must be “burned” (not simply copied) to a DVD using ISO disc burning software to create the “image” file that can be installed. Microsoft warns that there is a risk in using this potentially buggy “beta” software on a critical or production computer, or even a primary home PC, so it does not recommend installation on those computers. Microsoft also implores users to perform a full image backup of the hard drive, which will allow a reinstall of the prior operating system, software, and data from the original software. Again, the three most important words in computing are “Backup, Backup, and Backup !” This image backup will be necessary to restore the computer to the earlier operating system in the event the user desires to remove the Windows 10, and go back to what was previously running. Users should not rely on the “recovery partition” which is usually included, and sometimes hidden on factory built computers, as it is likely that the factory recovery partition will not be available after the installation of Windows 10.
Microsoft has also issued a privacy statement and warning to users who download and install the “beta” of Windows 10. Microsoft states, ” Microsoft will collect data about your installation and use of Windows 10 Insider Preview to help us improve our products and services. See our privacy statement to learn more.”
I have been a registered beta tester for Microsoft in the past, and have installed and tested several other pre-release versions of Microsoft products. While a few have worked well, most of the others were quite buggy, especially my “beta” versions of the now defunct Windows Vista. While I like to be among the first to implement a new hardware or software product, I will probably not download and install the actual release version of Windows 10 on my primary desktop computer, I may put it on my secondary laptop computer running Windows 7-64. If you want to try Windows 10 prior to its official release, download it from the above Microsoft link, but be absolutely sure that you have a complete external backup of your existing operating system and files, preferably an image backup. Once the free upgrade of the release version is available. I would suggest waiting for a few months to allow any of the inevitable bugs to be worked out of the initial release, prior to the download and installation.
Windows 10 looks very interesting, especially with its cross platform compatibility. I actually look forward to the release of the “official” PC version this summer.
- http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/preview-iso OFFICIAL DOWNLOAD LINK