Microsoft Unveils (the Free) Windows 10

Microsoft's newest operating system is being designed for a new technological landscape, and will be offered as a free upgrade during the first year after launch.

by / January 21, 2015

As per Microsoft’s tradition of failing with every other iteration of Windows, the company appears to have given up on Windows 8, and on Jan. 21 unveiled a preview of its upcoming Windows 10.

The new operating system, presented on stage by Executive Vice President of Operating Systems Terry Myerson, will be available as a free upgrade to existing Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year after its release. A Windows 10 release date has not yet been announced, but the presentation -- which also brought news of upcoming products like Windows Holographic and HoloLens -- have people on Twitter talking:

The operating system is not yet completed, so some details are fuzzy. But Myserson looked forward to a near-future in which Windows is no longer thought of as software with a version number, but as an online service that is continually updated.

Windows 10 will enable a close integration with a burgeoning Internet of Things. The number of mobile devices that each user owns is “exploding,” Myserson said, and Windows 10 will enable users to switch between devices seamlessly to continue their work. Notifications, likewise, will be synced across devices.

Myerson noted that Windows 10 will also have an emphasis on privacy. “Everything we do puts the customer in control, because you are our customer, not our product,” he said, later noting that as mobile and wearable devices become more prevalent and there is more overlap between devices work and home, it’s important that people trust that their devices are secure and privacy-minded.

Windows 10 will also integrate new modes of interaction from the user. “Interacting with technology should be as natural as interacting with people,” Myerson said. “Voice, pen, gestures and your gaze should help you get more out of your devices in an additive and intuitive way. The right interaction in the right way at the right time.”

Other new features slated for Windows 10 now include a full-screen Start Screen, an Action Center that enables common tasks like toggling Wi-Fi, VPN or Tablet Mode, and the addition of an upgraded Cortana, Microsoft’s version of Siri, to desktop devices. The Windows 10 interface has been polished, new apps will provide a consistent appearance across devices, and Microsoft’s replacement to its widely-disliked Internet Explorer Internet browser will be replaced by an app now named Project Spartan.

More than 1.7 million registrants to the Windows Insider program will assist development of the OS by providing feedback before the final version is released.

Colin Wood former staff writer

Colin wrote for Government Technology from 2010 through most of 2016.