10 Factors That Make Windows 10 a Game-Changer for Microsoft

10 Factors That Make Windows 10 a Game-Changer for Microsoft
Windows 10 Will Be Free for the First Year of Availability
Microsoft Publicly Discloses Project Spartan Web Browser
Cortana Virtual Personal Assistant Comes to Windows 10
A Proper Marriage Between Windows 10 and Xbox
Office Going Touch-First With Windows 10
Continuum Will Make Two-in-Ones More Appealing
Windows 10 Is Microsoft's First Truly Cross-Platform OS
HoloLens Will Enable Windows 10 Users to Work in 3D Virtual Environment
Surface Hub Will Make Its Way to the Enterprise
Microsoft Finally Shoots a Major Shot Over the Bow
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10 Factors That Make Windows 10 a Game-Changer for Microsoft

By Don Reisinger

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Windows 10 Will Be Free for the First Year of Availability

Microsoft made the somewhat surprising announcement that Windows 10 will be free when it launches. Now, that comes with some caveats. First, users will only receive a free copy of Windows 10 if they're upgrading from Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Furthermore, Microsoft is offering the deal for one year after the launch. When that period expires, the OS will presumably be a paid upgrade. But it's nice to see Microsoft changing the way it generates revenue from Windows.

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Microsoft Publicly Discloses Project Spartan Web Browser

We've been hearing about it for weeks, but finally, Microsoft unveiled Project Spartan at its media briefing on Jan. 21. According to the company, Project Spartan will shed many of the bells and whistles built into Internet Explorer to streamline Web browsing. Microsoft also promises that Project Spartan will load Web pages more quickly and come with offline support.

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Cortana Virtual Personal Assistant Comes to Windows 10

Cortana, the Siri-like voice-activated virtual personal assistant available in Windows Phone, will be coming to Windows 10. According to Microsoft, the assistant will provide everything from recommendations on content to personal reminders and access to Web search. It can also be activated via voice or by typing in requests and commands.

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A Proper Marriage Between Windows 10 and Xbox

Microsoft's Xbox gaming console will be a crucial component in making Windows 10 more popular among gamers. According to Microsoft, Windows 10 will come with full support for Xbox Live, meaning players who are on a PC can play with Xbox gamers. Windows 10 will also come with the ability to play Xbox One games streamed from their consoles to their PCs or tablets.

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Office Going Touch-First With Windows 10

Microsoft also confirmed that Office is getting a full makeover. The company said that Office for Windows 10 will be universal, meaning it can work cross-platform, and will come with a "touch-first experience." The productivity suite is also getting a makeover for desktop users who don't want to work with touch-screens. But it sounds like Microsoft wants to provide equal support for people who want to work with a touch-screen or a keyboard and mouse.

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Continuum Will Make Two-in-Ones More Appealing

One of the big challenges for customers who have purchased two-in-one PCs that can act as both notebooks and tablets is that Windows 8 users had a difficult time transitioning from one form to another. Windows 10, however, will come with an embedded feature called Continuum that automatically recognizes whether users are on a two-in-one and whether it is running in tablet or notebook mode. From there, Windows 10 will adapt to the mode and provide the relevant experience.

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Windows 10 Is Microsoft's First Truly Cross-Platform OS

When Satya Nadella outlined his plans for Microsoft in 2014, he said that the company must be willing to be platform-agnostic. Then, it's no surprise that all of the built-in apps in Windows 10—from Photos to Maps—will come with the same look and feel, regardless of what type of device Windows 10 is running on. More importantly, all content generated with those applications will be saved in Microsoft's cloud-storage service OneDrive, which will allow users to pick up where they left off between devices.

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HoloLens Will Enable Windows 10 Users to Work in 3D Virtual Environment

Although it's a stand-alone product, the HoloLens could be a groundbreaking way for Microsoft to showcase the value of Windows 10 for different device types. HoloLens is a wireless head-mounted Windows 10 device that enables users to interact to view and interact with virtual 3D objects. The device works with its own self-contained computing power and processes terabytes of data in real time. It should be interesting to see how well the HoloLens works with a variety of applications.

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Surface Hub Will Make Its Way to the Enterprise

Microsoft is targeting the enterprise with Windows 10 through a variety of hardware and software. However, one of the more interesting moves might be its Surface Hub, essentially a massive 84-inch touch-sensitive tablet that can be mounted on a wall or positioned on a table. Because Windows 10 can be used on a variety of devices, Microsoft has found a way to optimize the software for large-screen devices—55 inches and 84 inches—to support work team collaboration among other applications. Surface Hub includes support for white-boarding, remote conferencing, presentations, Web browsing and more.

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Microsoft Finally Shoots a Major Shot Over the Bow

When everything is taken into consideration about Microsoft's Windows 10 rollout Jan. 21, it's clear that the software company is preparing a major departure from the way it has marketed Windows for more than 25 years. It is showing that it understands that it needed to make major changes to its business model to try to keep Windows relevant in the era of intense competition in the field of mobile devices, mobile operating systems and cloud services. CEO Satya Nadella said last year that mobile and the cloud were extremely important to the company's future. Now, it's clear that Microsoft has taken that message to heart, and it's ready to move away from the old software industry business models.

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