Microsoft has big hopes for its upcoming Windows 10 operating system, the company announced during its Build developer conference in San Francisco today.
In a statement, the software giant announced "its ambition to have 1 billion active Windows 10 devices" by fiscal year 2018. Microsoft is currently in its fiscal 2015 fourth quarter, which ends June 30. According to Microsoft's timeline, the company hopes to achieve this lofty goal by mid-2018.
Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft's Operating Systems group, said in a blog post today that it is his company's hope "to see Windows 10 on one billion devices within two to three years of Windows 10's availability—the first platform version, in any ecosystem, to be available on one billion devices." To help reach that number, Microsoft will take cost out of the equation for current Windows users.
"We will accomplish this by delivering Windows 10 with a free upgrade offer, making it easy for customers and businesses to upgrade quickly, and with great new devices (which we haven't discussed yet)," wrote Myerson. Taking a surprising detour from the company's past anti-piracy efforts, the offer will extend to users of pirated copies.
"Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to eWEEK on March 18. "We believe customers over time will realize the value of properly licensing Windows, and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies."
Upgraders will also be treated to a new browser, Microsoft Edge.
Formerly Project Spartan, Microsoft Edge is the new default browser for Windows 10. Representing a break from Internet Explorer's checkered past, the interoperability-focused browser sports a new rendering engine and a minimalist user interface.
Microsoft is also working on a unified Windows Store that will make getting apps for Windows 10, or any other Windows-powered device. "For end-users, apps in the Windows Store will install and uninstall easily, and the Store will support a range of global payment methods on all Windows devices—including the largest carrier billing footprint of any ecosystem, supporting 90 carriers, to help people around the world who don't have credit cards, but do have phones," Myerson said.
On the productivity front, the company announced add-in support for Excel for iPad, with Word and PowerPoint for iPad add-in support coming soon. Similarly, add-ins are headed to Outlook.com, Microsoft's Webmail service. This summer, the company will start rolling out the first batch of Outlook.com add-ins, including Uber, PayPal and Boomerang, which allows users to schedule the sending of emails and set email reminders.