Windows 10 is an entirely new version of the veteran Windows operating system – a version that is make-or-break for Microsoft.
It was released on July 29 in seven versions, which I'll tell you a lot more about below, as well as give you techradar's complete verdict on all aspects of the new operating system (OS).
Even though Windows 8.1 did improve things, there's no escaping that, with Windows 8, Microsoft was hugely complacent, buoyed by the success of Windows 7. It drastically misunderstood its users with a fundamentally changed user interface which didn't make any logical sense and was hard to learn. It failed us. It failed itself.
Thankfully, 2015 Microsoft is pretty different from 2012 Microsoft. The key management of the corporation has changed. It has woken up to the fact that people can choose other operating systems. It's keen on making stuff for OS X, Linux, iOS and Android. As you'll hear, it's allowing apps from other platforms to be easily ported to Windows, too.
And, months after release, Microsoft hasn't stopped improving the OS, nor has news surrounding the software stopped churning. Just earlier in November, the first major update for Windows 10 released, known by many for its codename: "Threshold 2."
Microsoft simply calls it the "Fall Update," rife with various features and improvements that had previously been tested in the Windows Insider preview. The most notable of which is that the update allows Windows 10 to boot up 30% faster than Windows 7 on the same device.
Other upgrades from the Fall Update include Cortana's new ability to recognize handwriting on touchscreen devices; not to mention the virtual assistant's expansion to – most notably for you folks – Australia and Canada, plus Japan and India.
The firm also gave its new Edge browser a boost with a tab preview feature, plus Cortana will now offer up coupons from several major retailers when shopping online through the browser. Finally, IT managers will enjoy easier deployment of updates and apps to their fleets of Windows 10 devices. Check out the full breakdown here.
But not all of the news has been sunshine and rainbows for the reportedly now-120 million Windows 10 users – as of this writing. Recently, Microsoft finally owned up to the widely reported rumor that Windows 10 had been trying to install itself on some Windows 7 and Windows 8 systems without their owners' knowledge.
The Redmond firm chalks it up to a bug with its automatic update system, triggering multiple unauthorized installation attempts in some cases. Microsoft recently explained that the bug is no more, and that has been confirmed by some vocal users.
Despite the stumbles, Microsoft's Surface Pro 4, new flagship Lumia phones, the Microsoft Band 2, the Surface Book and now that Windows 10 is on Xbox One have put Microsoft's new OS all over the map. That makes the road to 1 billion Windows 10 devices much easier.
(Plus, it seems that Windows 10 is better at running games than an OS developed for that very purpose.)
Now, on with our review...
Windows is more than just an OS
Microsoft believes the future of Windows is as a platform for all. Like Android, the strength of Windows is in the thousands of companies that develop for it (see the section about Universal apps for more on the relationship with developers) and use it in their products.
That's why Windows 10 is no longer just an operating system for 32 and 64-bit PCs. It will also run on the ARM platform for smaller tablets and smartphones. Windows 10 is going to run on phones – it's the new version of Windows Phone, but it's not that clear whether Microsoft will brand new Windows Phones as 'Windows 10' or not. If you know what Windows RT was, then don't worry, because it's nothing like that.
Universal apps will run not only on PCs, but on Windows 10 phones, Windows 10 for IoT devices and Xbox as well.
Like Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8 before it, Windows 10 is part of the Windows NT family.
From the Windows 10 Preview to RTM
We were part of the Windows Insider program, which has given people early access to Windows 10 through various phases of its development. The latest version, which this article is based on, is known as build 10240, made available on 15 July. It is the RTM- or Release to Manufacturing - version. RTM will also be on Windows 10 PCs.
RTM doesn't have the usual 'Windows 10 Insider Preview' text on the desktop, and it has also been released to everybody in the Windows Insider program – even those who didn't want the latest updates (the 'slow' ring as opposed to the 'fast' ring).
Even now Windows 10 is eleased, the Windows Insider program will continue, and Microsoft will release Windows 10 updates to members of the program first.
While it's natural that Windows 10 will be considered as 'finished' by reviewers (us) and consumers, Microsoft doesn't subscribe to this point of view, and says it will carry on developing the OS with additional tweaks.
Joe Osborne contributed to this review