Windows 10: release date, price, news and features

The future of Windows is coming on July 29

Windows 10 release date news and features

Update: With less than a month left before the big launch, we've updated this space with news of a brand new Insider preview build, plus news that Windows 10 might come with a free version of Office.

Find these new pieces of info in the "What's new in Windows Technical Preview?" section and just before the "Cut to the chase" section, respectively. But before you dig into those bits, check these out:

Original article follows...

With Windows 8 and today Windows 8.1, Microsoft tried – not entirely successfully – to deliver an operating system (OS) that could handle the needs of not only number-crunching workstations and high-end gaming rigs, but touch-controlled systems from all-in-one PCs for the family and thin-and-light notebooks down to slender tablets.

When Microsoft pulled the curtain back on Windows 10 back in September of 2014, it was clear that, with an operating system optimized for PCs, tablets and phones in unique ways, the Redmond, Washington-based firm was onto something. Skipping the Windows 9 name entirely, Microsoft issued a public preview of the shiny new OS later that autumn, known as Windows Technical Preview (WTP).

You can try it out for yourself through Microsoft's Windows Insider Program (nearly 4 million have, as of May 2015). You'll need a Microsoft account to get it, and it's worth bearing in mind that it's not the finished product, so it will be a bit rough around the edges.

Since its September 2014 reveal, Microsoft held a consumer-facing preview of the upcoming OS in January 2015, and shelled out even more details during its Build 2015 conference back in April. As the months have passed through those milestones, new features rolled in with each Windows 10 preview build update. And now, with a release date announced, the OS is mighty close to completion.

Most recently, a new Windows 10 Insider preview build has been issued for those in the Fast ring: build #10158. This new release namely features the debut of Edge, Microsoft's new browser and de facto replacement for Internet Explorer.

Better yet, it appears that Windows 10 installations will offer a version of Office for free. Albeit near identical to the Office Mobile versions of Word, Excel and PowerPoint available for iOS and Android, this move is nothing to scoff at. The first machine to officially receive this software package? Archos's $99 (£63, about AU$130) PC on a stick.

Cut to the chase

  • What is it? A complete update for Windows
  • When is it out? July 29
  • What will it cost? For Windows 7 and 8.1 users: free for one year; then $129/£99/€135 to start

Windows 10
Microsoft's Terry Myerson says 'this summer'

When is the Windows 10 release date?

Microsoft slated Windows 10 for a summer launch, and the company has stuck to its word. Following several leaks (and one giant snafu from US retailer NewEgg which published an incorrect launch date), it has been confirmed that Windows 10 will launch on July 29.

That said, it's unlikely that Windows 10 will release for all device types on this date. Judging from comments made by Microsoft Corporate VP of Operating Systems Joe Belfiore, the company has planned a phased approach to the launch. Windows 10 will release for desktop and laptop devices first, then trickle down to phones, the Xbox One, Arduino machines and its own HoloLens.

Windows 10
For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, the cost is free-99

How much will Windows 10 cost?

For Windows 7 and 8.1 users, Windows 10 will be free for one year. After that period – not to mention for standalone copies of the OS – the asking price starts at $119.

Microsoft's Executive Vice President of Operating Systems Terry Myerson announced in January that Windows 10 will be free for existing Windows 7 and 8.1 users for its first year. Microsoft also confirmed a while ago that the two most recent Windows versions will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 directly.

However, if you're not eligible for Microsoft's upgrade program – those who upgrade after the first year free offer, or those running a non-genuine Windows version or one older than Windows 7 – Windows 10 Home will cost $119 (£99, €135, about AU$156) and Windows 10 Pro will cost $199 (about £131, €178 AU$262) per license, Microsoft confirmed to TechRadar.

Windows 10 Home users who want to upgrade to Pro will have to pay an additional $99 (about £65, €88, AU$130) for the Windows 10 Pro pack. Unfortunately, Microsoft has been mum on exact Pro pricing for the UK and EU, while nothing has been said of Australian pricing.

The company promises that it will support those who scored a free upgrade to Windows 10 with security and system updates for the lifetime of those Windows devices.

Neowin reported back in February that Microsoft has trademarked the term "Windows 365," supposedly with the intent of it being a service. The news and speculation has sent folks buzzing about the possibility of a subscription-based Windows to come, though that's not likely to be Windows 10. Oh, we hope not.

Windows 10
This could be you right now

How will I get to download Windows 10?

Confirming the rumours and leaks leading up, Microsoft has already started the upgrade process for current Windows 7 and Windows 8 users. If your machine is up-to-date today, you will soon see a small icon of the Windows logo on your task bar next to the internet status icon.

Clicking it will open a window that details the upgrade process and will allow you to 'reserve' your free Windows 10 download by providing your email address. Presumably on or in advance of launch day, Microsoft will download the OS to your device and notify you when it's ready to install.

What follows that prompt are a few bits of info to tease the new release and get users excited. It's that easy.

Seven shades of Windows 10

Windows 10 will be available in seven versions, far more than one would have expected in the first place. While IoT, Mobile, Home, Enterprise and Professional were already confirmed, Mobile Enterprise and Education were unexpected. In comparison, there were only four versions of Windows 8.1 (five if you include Windows Phone 8) and one of them was Windows RT.

Microsoft clarified the free upgrade offer for Windows 10, adding that Windows 10 Home and Pro will be available for free to Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users that have appropriate licenses (presumably, Windows 8.1 Home users will only be able to upgrade to Windows 10 Home).

Windows 10
It pays to be an Insider

What's new in Windows Technical Preview?

The latest WTP build available for all testers is build #10130, released earlier this June. The update builds on what was released in the last stable build from Microsoft's Build 2015 conference, namely streamlining the Virtual Desktop experience and giving the Photos app some much-needed functionality.

For the more experienced or foolhardy users in Microsoft's Fast ring, you're now looking at build #10158. The new build is not as stable as the Slow ring's aforementioned latest release, and introduces one major new feature of note: Edge, Microsoft's new web browser.

The new browser was teased ad nauseum at the company's Build 2015 event, and we've even gone hands on with Microsoft Edge. So, your chance to test the version of Edge we did a few months back has finally come. We even have some tips for installing the new update right here.

Other updates coming through in build #10158 are animation and interface improvements to the Continuum system for hybrids and cross-device communication. Cortana has been upgraded, too, now able to compose and send emails following your dictation. Finally, the Photos app has been further upgraded to now support GIFs.

Finally, Microsoft detailed what will happen for those that installed the Windows 10 Technical Preview directly on top of Windows 7 or 8.1: not too much. Basically, if this is how you installed the preview, just keep receiving the updates as normal and, come July 29, you'll have the same version of Windows 10 as everyone else – but there's a catch.

Regardless of whether the "final" version of Windows 10 is available, Insiders must continue to receive preview updates – which will not stop after July 29 – for their copy of Windows to remain genuine. If you want to opt out of the preview, you'll likely have to restore back to your previous version of Windows 7 or 8.1 and perform a clean Windows 10 install from there.

Further updates are in the works (already)

Before Windows 10 has even launched, Microsoft's upgrade plans for the OS have leaked. Operating under the codename Redstone, the Windows maker will issue updates in two waves.

According to Neowin's report, the first will come June 2016 and the other October of next year. But don't expect huge, sprawling changes from these updates – they're likely to be tweaks to the new OS for specific types of hardware and other improvements.

Move on to the next page to read about the biggest changes coming to Windows 10 in depth.