Redmond, Wash. – Windows 10 will be available July 29 on new tablets and PCs and as a free upgrade to Windows 7 and 8.1 tablets and PCs, though the availability of a Windows 10 upgrade for Windows Phone 8.1 devices will vary by vendor and carrier, Microsoft announced.
The upgrade is free to current devices for a year. Windows RT tablets aren’t upgradable.
With Windows 10, Microsoft brings back the Start menu, blending the traditional look of Windows 7 with the tile-centric look of Windows 8. Onscreen features such as menus and taskbars adapt to the device in use so navigation remains consistent.
Windows 10 also lets people interact with their computing device not only via mouse and keyboard but also though voice, pen or gesture.
The OS will also run the same apps across phones, tablets, PCs, and Xboxes; let developers easily port apps originally written for iOS and Android; and add Continuum, which will be available on select Windows phones at launch. When docked with a keyboard and monitor or connected wirelessly to a TV via Miracast, a Continuum-equipped phone will turn apps such as Excel into a version designed for use with a keyboard and mouse on a bigger screen.
Continuum also enables the “elegant transition” of a tablet into a PC and back, the company said.
Windows 10 also gets a new browser, called Edge, and extends the Xbox Live gaming feature to Windows 10 PCs and tablets, enabling people to communicate with friends on Windows 10 PCs and Xbox One while playing any PC game. People can also stream games directly from an Xbox One console to a Windows 10 tablet or PC in their homes.
Windows 10 also supports Windows Hello, which uses biometric authentication to let users access their device via infrared-camera-based facial recognition, iris detection, or fingerprint reading to support secure access.
New Universal Windows applications for Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook offer a consistent, “touch-first” experience across a range of devices, the company added. They’re designed from the ground up to run on Windows 10 and let people annotate Word documents and PowerPoint presentations on the go.
“With Windows 10, we start delivering on our vision of more personal computing, defined by trust in how we protect and respect your personal information, mobility of the experience across your devices, and natural interactions with your Windows devices,” said EVP Terry Myerson in a blog post.
For more on Windows 10, see this TWICE article.