Windows 10 review

New look, new apps, new browser. Here's what we think of Microsoft's make-or-break OS...

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Our Verdict

Feature-wise, Windows 10 is the new Windows 7. It's robust, pleasant to use and free.

For

  • Start menu is functionally excellent
  • Action Center features are handy
  • Settings app is finally a Control Panel replacement
  • Universal apps are much higher in quality

Against

  • Will developers embrace Universal apps?
  • Windows 8.1 users will miss some features
  • Expensive if you can't upgrade for free

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 29 July in seven versions, which we'll tell you a lot more about below, as well as give you our complete verdict on all aspects of the new 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 to 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.

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.

Windows 10 review

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).

Windows 10 review

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.