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Countdown to Windows 10: Coming July 29

Microsoft is touting the latest update to its operating system, due for release starting July 29, with the line, “It’s the Windows you know, only better.” Underscoring the distance that Microsoft wants to put between the new OS and the previous version is the fact that it’s named Windows 10 — there will be no “9” to succeed the less-than-beloved Windows 8.

Windows 10 will also be the “last” version of the operating system, according to Redmond. Rather than releasing future upgrades as discrete, numbered generations, the company plans to roll out continuous updates as part of its “as-a-service” model for Windows.

Some of Windows 10 features Microsoft is promoting most heavily in advance of the release date include the return of the Start Menu left out in Windows 8; the debut of a new browser — Microsoft Edge — to replace Internet Explorer; and advanced integration of Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-controlled digital personal assistant. Windows 10 will also be the first universal version of the OS, meaning that the same code will be used across all Windows devices, from desktop computers and tablets to Windows phones.

Keyboard/Mouse- and Touch-Friendly

According to Microsoft, Windows 10 has been heavily reviewed and tweaked ahead of its release date based on the input of five million Windows Insiders who have been taking multiple pre-release builds for test drives. That’s a far cry from the approach Redmond used before launching Windows 8.

“Windows 8 was built in near-secrecy, with few disclosures and no broad public testing program,” Al Gillen, program vice president for servers and system software at IDC, told us. “Windows 10 is being developed in about as different of a process as it could be.”

Gillen said he has been using Windows 10 for a while, and sees it as a notable improvement over previous versions.

“Windows 10 brings the best of Windows 8 and Windows 7 into a common UI that gives you a touch-enabled environment that also is efficiently used with a keyboard and mouse interface,” he said. “To the extent that application environments can be unified, as Microsoft is doing with the universal application platform, that is a real positive for developers. In Microsoft’s case, it is hard to get developers excited about its relatively small installed base of phones and tablets, but by unifying the customer base across PCs, tablets and phones, the opportunity potentially gets a whole lot larger.”

No Opting Out of Automatic Updates

With less than two weeks to go before Windows 10 arrives, Microsoft has also published the text of the end-user license agreement (EULA) required for anyone to download the new OS. With the future of the software now built on an “as-a-service” path, it should come as no surprise that ongoing updates will be delivered automatically, according to the EULA. In other words, consumer and small-business users won’t be able to selectively avoid software updates as they’re rolled out.

“The software periodically checks for system and app updates, and downloads and installs them for you,” according to the EULA. “By accepting this agreement, you agree to receive these types of automatic updates without any additional notice.”

Among some of the other new features arriving with Windows 10 will be a unified, cross-device Windows store; screen views that are optimized for each device; and support for game streaming from Xbox One consoles.

The new OS is scheduled to roll out in phases, going first to Windows Insiders and then being released in waves to users who have made reservations online. Enterprise users will begin seeing Windows 10 on August 1.

Zoltan Vlad:

Posted: 2015-07-18 @ 9:33am PT

No Media Center, no W10.

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