Windows 10 release date, features, devices and free upgrade: A free Windows 10 upgrade path is ending very soon

Windows 10 at-a-glance

Windows 10 launched globally on 29 July 2015 and was touted as “the last version of Windows”, marking the end of decades of occasional heavy duty OS updates in favour of a more incremental approach. Here’s our round-up of everything you need to know about Windows 10.

Read our full review of Windows 10 here

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Windows 10 latest news

01/11/2017: A free Windows 10 upgrade path is ending very soon

Microsoft has quietly announced it will be ending free Windows 120 upgrades for badistive technologies users come the end of the year, after saying it would not be available to everyone forever when it was first announced.

The badistive technologies page has been upgraded to say: “If you use badistive technologies, you can upgrade to Windows 10 at no cost as Microsoft continues our efforts to improve the Windows 10 experience for people who use these technologies Please take advantage of this offer before it expires on December 31, 2017.”

Although the path was initially designed for people using the accessibility options on their computer, there’s no verification process in place to stop those without extra needs upgrading, so it’s possible users who don’t want to stump up the $119 fee to get Windows 10 have been using the badistive technologies pathway to get around paying.

If you still want to upgrade after this particular path expires, you can still use an existing Windows 7/8.1 product key to get the platform for free. However, it’s not clear whether Microsoft will stop this route to free Windows 10 upgrades from working at the end of the year as well.

24/10/2017: Microsoft reveals Creators Update schedule

Microsoft has revealed more details about the rollout of Windows 10 Fall Creators Update, explaining in a blog post when it will arrive for your computer, smartphone and other devices.

Anyone can download and install the update already, after its formal release last week, but it’s only being pushed out to devices that have been already tested by Microsoft. “By starting with machines which we believe will have the best update experience, we are able to get focused feedback on application compatibility and how Windows works with the rich ecosystem of available peripherals like Bluetooth devices or cameras,” said John Cable, director of program management for Windows Servicing and Delivery.

Microsoft will decide which devices to update next based on feedback from manufacturers as well as end-user testers, via Windows Insiders and Windows Insider for Business. “This helps us determine when to accelerate the release to additional devices,” he said. “We repeat this process until all compatible devices running Windows 10 worldwide are offered the Fall Creators Update.”

Cable advised businesses to follow Microsoft’s lead and rollout in phases. “Start with targeted deployments to validate that apps, devices and infrastructure used by your organisation work well with the new release,” he said. “Then continue your deployment to more and more devices based on the results from your initial targeted deployments.”

19/10/2017: Windows 10 ARM devices will have all day battery life 

Microsoft reveals Windows 10 ARM will have multi-day battery life.

Microsoft has confirmed that the battery life of laptops running Windows 10 ARM will be “really, really good.”

Although, the man making the statement – Pete Bernard, principal group programme manager at Microsoft -said that he didn’t have the final statistics, as reported by Trusted Reviews at Qualcomm’s annual 5G Summit.

“To be frank, it’s actually beyond our expectations,” he explained. “We set a high bar for [our developers], and we’re now beyond that. It’s the kind of battery life where I use it on a daily basis. I don’t take my charger with me. I may charge it every couple of days or so. It’s that kind of battery life.”

Bernard added: “I would consider it a game-changer in terms of the way people have experienced PCs in the past.”

The new devices were announced last December and will run on Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 835 chipset. Qualcomm’s Don McGuire, vice president of global product marketing, confirmed that the companies were still on target for their release date of December 2017. He hinted: “I think that expectation will be met. You’ll be hearing more from us over the next coming weeks regarding that.”

Furthermore, Microsoft revealed it was testing the laptops at its headquarters. Bernard said: “We’ve been on this journey for almost a year. We’ve been working furiously in Redmond and with our partners in San Diego.”

He added: “We have hundreds of these devices being used on a daily basis in Redmond.”

Moreover, he suggested that more partners will produce the device, aside from Asus, HP and Lenovo.

“Over time, there’s going to be a portfolio of devices from manufacturers. We’ve had some conversations with other OEMs too, for future devices, that are very exciting about bringing their own spin,” said Bernard.

Lastly, McGuire also talked about the Windows 10 Snapdragon programme: “We are starting with [the Snapdragon] 835, and I think what you’ll see from us as we roll out our next-generation platforms, we’ll be rolling those out strategically…with mobile PC in mind.”

“You’ll see an evolved roadmap with mobile PCs in it more definitively than in the past. You’ll see an evolution of different tiers of devices,” he continued.

He also said that Windows 10 laptops will not be retrofitted with existing Qualcomm chips unless it was the Snapdragon 835: “As far as backward, we’re not going to look backward.”

Qualcomm announced it had formed partnerships with Asus, HP and Lenovo back in May to bring ARM processors to a new generation of Windows 10 PCs. It will be the first time a Windows machine is capable of accessing gigabit wireless connections since the Snapdragon 835 processor supports X16 LTE modems.

17/10/2017: Windows 10 Fall Creators Update starts rolling out today

Microsoft started rolling out its latest Windows 10 update to users today, who will get in a staggered release schedule to accommodate the 500 million devices running the operating system.

Calling it a “measured, deliberate” rollout, Microsoft said it wants to ensure everybody’s upgrade goes smoothly, but it means that many people will have to wait a while for the update.

A spokesperson told the Daily Express that devices already running the Creators Update – released back in April in a similarly staggered way – will get the Fall update first, before Microsoft targets machines running older updates, like the August 2016 Anniversary Update.

“Once a device is eligible, the Fall Creators Update will automatically download through Windows Update if you’ve chosen to have updates installed automatically on your device; this is the optimal experience we recommend,” the spokesperson said.

But those impatient for the new software release can download it themselves as a disc image from Microsoft’s Software Download page, though Microsoft says this is strictly for experts.

The Fall Creators Update will bring a host of new features to Microsoft’s operating system, including upfront access to the company’s privacy statement during the setup process, and forcing apps to seek user permission to access things like a device camera.

Meanwhile the Windows Shell – the Start menu and Taskbar – will undergo a facelift designed to make it more user-friendly, using Fluent Design (see below), its new design language.

Microsoft is also pushing augmented reality in the new release, running the latest OS update on a range of Windows Mixed Reality headsets available from OEMs from today.

16/10/2017: Microsoft offers sneak peek at Fluent Design

Microsoft has shown off how its new design language, dubbed Fluent Design, will change Windows 10 in the Fall Creators Update set to land this week.

Fluent Design is Microsoft’s new design language, an interface style that uses depth, motion, lighting and translucency to step away from the flat feel of Metro, its predecessor. Not only will it inform Windows itself, but the designs can be used across apps to help tie the whole system’s look and feel together.

The Fall Creators Update will see the arrival of a few hints of Fluent Design, though it’s expected to roll out gradually over a long time.

The video hints at a few of the changes, which remain subtle. The teaser trailer shows a stylus interacting with the calculator and a photo app — hinting that the ability to write in “ink” in any app could be set to arrive — while a range of apps are shown with translucent navigation menus and windows, and there’s plenty of animation to make it all feel alive and vibrant.

Rather than describe the subtle changes though, you can watch the video below to get a sense of what to expect from Fluent Design in Windows 10.

The changes are expected in the Fall Creators Update set to land 17 October, which will include tweaks to how OneDrive surfaces files, changes to voice badistant Cortana that will let users lock their PC or shut it down, and a few security, performance and readability improvements for the Edge browser.

13/10/2017: Microsoft Edge rated ‘best at blocking phishing attacks’

Microsoft Edge has been found to be significantly better than rival browsers at identifying and blocking phishing attacks.

In new research published by security badysis firm NSS Labs, Microsoft’s Edge browser offered the most protection against online threats, and was better at identifying new phishing URLs than Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome.

Its Web Browser Security Comparative Reports, seen by MSPoweruser, measured the performance of leading browsers across 36,120 test cases, which included 1,136 hidden URLs designed to delivering phishing attacks against a user’s PC.

Over a 23 day period, Microsoft Edge was able to block an average of 92.3% of the malicious URLs, compared to 74.5% blocked by Chrome, and just 61.1% stopped on Firefox.

In terms of identifying new phishing URLs, Edge also roundly beat the competition, achieving a zero-hour protection rate of 81.8%, compared to 58.6% and 50.7% for Chrome and Firefox.

Interestingly, although there was a marked difference between the browsers, the report found that a locked-down operating system made little impact on the overall performance. Microsoft Edge performed just as well on Windows 10 as it did on Windows 10 S, and there was no difference between Google Chrome on ChromeOS and Windows 10.

It will be welcome news for Microsoft, given that it has been trying to push Edge onto its Windows 10 users, who are still overwhelmingly turning to other software for a default browser. Various versions of Google’s Chrome browser hold over 37% of the market share, while Microsoft’s Edge is one of the least popular at 4%.

To put that into context, Microsoft’s older Internet Explorer 11 browser, most recently updated in 2015, still has almost 12% of the market share despite Microsoft’s efforts to phase it out.

12/10/2017: Microsoft makes Windows 10 Fall Creators Update SDK available

Microsoft has announced general availability of the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update SDK, meaning developers can finally develop apps for the latest iteration of Microsoft’s operating system.

The biggest change in this SDK is the introduction of support for Microsoft’s Mixed Reality, taking advantage of augmented reality and virtual reality, whether for gaming or other applications that can come alive in 3D.

“As humans, we interact with space constantly, and Windows Mixed Reality will feel the most natural for users,” Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president, of the Windows Developer Platform said. “With HoloLens, we have already demonstrated unrivaled innovation that is transforming industries. Now, our immersive headsets offer unrivaled experiences.”

The Windows 10 Fall Creators Update SDK will also “modernise” applications for the workplace, allowing developers to create new apps or update existing code to work on the platform and help boost productivity. To make the process of updating apps easier for developers, they can use Visual Studio 2017 version 15.4 to use the app packaging without having to convert the existing installer.

“Whether you’re building immersive experiences for Windows Mixed Reality, games, education or business applications, community is crucial to the Windows developer platform,” Kevin Gallo, corporate vice president, of the Windows Developer Platform said. “I look forward to seeing what you create with the Windows 10 Fall Creators Update SDK.”

06/10/2017: Microsoft Edge is coming to Android and iOS

Microsoft is finally bringing Windows 10’s desktop web browser to non-Windows smartphones, announcing that Edge is coming to Android and iOS devices for the first time.

Edge users will be able to sync their bookmarks, favourites, reading lists and history across both their PC and their smartphones. The new app also brings features like Reading View and New Tab Page to iOS and Android, and there’s also the ability to open whatever page you’re looking at on your phone to your Windows 10 PC.

Microsoft hasn’t made any claims about the power efficiency of Edge versus rival mobile browsers like Chrome, Firefox and Safari, but the company is bullish about how well the desktop version compares, so it’s possible that switching could net users big gains in battery life. It’s also unknown whether or not the mobile version of Edge will feature integrations with Cortana – something that played a big part in the recent Fall Creators Update.

iOS users can preview the app starting today via Apple TestFlight, and an Android version will be available to test soon – just head here to sign up. The previews will only support US English at launch, but Microsoft says that more languages will be added as time goes on. Some of Edge’s other features, including tablet support and pbadword roaming, will also be added later down the line.

The news marks a further blow for Microsoft’s ailing mobile OS. Windows 10 Mobile has been a continual disappointment for the company, consistently losing money and failing to attract customers. One of the most embarrbading moments came last month, when Microsoft founder Bill Gates revealed that even he has abandoned Windows Mobile.

Rumours have been persistently swirling that Microsoft is planning to axe Windows 10 Mobile altogether, but while this has yet to be officially confirmed, the news that Microsoft is bringing its flagship browser to other platforms suggests that it may be moving in this direction.

Windows 10 release date

Windows 10 started to roll out to consumers on 29 July 2015.

The news of a July release came as little surprise to Microsoft watchers, as the company had stated the release would come in summer 2015, and AMD’s CEO Lisa Su tipped the world off to a July launch thanks to a slip of the tongue during an earnings call in April that year.

The RTM build was delivered to OEM partners to image new devices on 15 July, and another build is being delivered to retailers to upgrade unsold devices currently running Windows 8.1.

The first end users to get the finished version of the product were the five million Windows 10 Insiders using the operating system in a preview. Following that, Redmond began offering the upgrade to Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users.

One year after the initial launch of Windows 10, Microsoft rolled out the Anniversary Update, which introduced useful tweaks but was a little light on new features. You can read our full review of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update here.

Volume licensing customers are able to download Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

System requirements for Windows 10 can be found here.

Windows 10 different versions

As with its predecessors, Windows 10 is available in various different versions: Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 Pro, Windows 10 Enterprise, Windows 10 Education and Windows 10 Mobile Enterprise.

Windows 10 Home is the standard edition of Windows for consumer PCs, tablets and hybrids such as the Surface 3 and upcoming Surface Pro 4. This version of the OS features personal badistant Cortana, Edge browser, Continuum and Windows Hello facial recognition, as well as standard Universal Apps like Mail, Calendar, Photos and Maps.

Windows 10 Mobile, which had until now been known as Windows 10 for Phones, “is designed to deliver the best user experience on … smartphones and small tablets”, according to Microsoft. It has many of the same features as Windows 10 Home, although Continuum is only available on large mobile devices.

Windows 10 Pro is aimed at small businesses and includes all the features of Windows 10 Home plus device and app management, data protection services, and support for remote and mobile working.


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