Microsoft finally ended one of Windows 10's biggest remaining mysteries: its release date.
"On July 29, you can get Windows 10 for PCs and tablets by taking advantage of the free upgrade offer, or on a new Windows 10 PC from your favorite retailer," blogged Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems group, today on the Microsoft Website. "If you purchase a new Windows 8.1 device between now and then, the Windows 10 upgrade will be available to you and many retail stores will upgrade your new device for you."
Windows 10 is an ambitious effort by the Redmond, Wash., software giant to unify the Windows ecosystem and bring the operating system to the devices that make up the so-called post-PC era.
Myerson reminded that the software was to designed "to run our broadest device family ever, including Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows phones, Windows for the Internet of Things, Microsoft Surface Hub, Xbox One and Microsoft HoloLens," he stated. The Surface Hub, for instance, is an 84-inch 4K video conferencing and digital whiteboard solution designed to promote office collaboration. HoloLens, meanwhile, is an augmented reality headset that splashes apps onto a user's physical environment.
Despite some of these next-generation implementations, Windows 10 is also somewhat of a blast from the past. "Familiar, yet better than ever, Windows 10 brings back the Start menu you know and love," Myerson said. Microsoft controversially replaced the venerable Start Menu with a touch-friendly Start screen in Windows 8.
One Windows mainstay that won't be making the jump to the newest version of the company's flagship operating system is Internet Explorer (IE)—except for businesses seeking to maintain compatibility with their legacy apps. Replacing IE is Microsoft Edge, a more modern browser that sports better interoperability with today's open Web standards.
Myerson described Edge as an "all-new browser designed to get things done online in new ways, with built-in commenting on the web—via typing or inking—sharing comments, and a reading view that makes reading web sites much faster and easier."
Other new features include Continuum, a technology that seamlessly switches between the Windows tablet, phone and desktop interface. Windows on PCs and tablets will also feature Cortana, the company's learning digital assistant, which debuted in Windows Phone 8.1.
Taking a page from Apple, Microsoft is offering Windows 10 as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8. "The Windows 10 upgrade is designed to be compatible with your current Windows device and applications," Myerson said. "We are hard at work to make this upgrade process a great experience."
Microsoft is implementing a reservation system that displays the Windows logo in the system tray. After reserving an upgrade, Microsoft will later notify users to schedule their Windows 10 installations.
Like Office 365, Windows will evolve with a cloudlike update cadence, hinted Myerson. "In addition to these innovations, we will continue to update Windows 10 over time with new innovations to help you be more productive and have more fun. Like Windows 10 itself, these updates will be free for the supported lifetime of your device."