Windows 10, Microsoft's ambitious new operating system, finally began to roll out across 190 countries today as a free upgrade.
"Upgrading to Windows 10 is easy if you have a genuine Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 PC or tablet," Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft Windows and Devices, said in a statement. "Starting today, a new notification on your taskbar will alert you when your upgrade is ready to be installed."
Corporate customers have a few more days to wait. "For business customers, Windows 10 is available to start deploying within your work environments and starting Aug. 1, organizations who have volume licensing can upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education," Myerson added. Windows 10 IoT for Internet of Things devices is also available July 29, he said.
Brad McCabe, product marketing manager on the Windows commercial team, told eWEEK the OS has been heavily influenced by the IT experts who signed up for the Windows Insider beta software program.
"Windows 10 is the culmination of nine-plus months of work with 5 million participants in our Windows Insider program," said McCabe. "Thirty percent of those Insiders self-identify as IT pros."
Apart from the management, deployment and user experience aspects of the new OS, security was a major priority for both those early testers and Microsoft, said McCabe. Windows 10 was built with the "modern security landscape" in mind, "and it's quite active to say the least," he said.
To guard against sophisticated threats, the OS supports new capabilities like Credential Guard, which "protects corporate identities by containing them in the hardware-based secure execution environment," blogged Jim Alkove, corporate vice president of Enterprise and Security in Microsoft's Windows and Devices Group. By combining the Enterprise Data Protection feature in the OS and cloud-based Microsoft Azure Rights Management, "we help protect sensitive corporate data by enabling automatic data encryption and cloud-based rights management," he added.
Windows 10 also brings IT departments a step closer to stronger user authentication. "With Windows 10, companies can begin to replace passwords with more secure options, such as biometrics and hardware-based multi-factor credentials," Alkove said. "With Microsoft Passport and Windows Hello, people can log into their Windows 10 device or a line-of-business app without a password."
Chipmaker Intel is an important partner in enabling these capabilities, said Josh Newman, general manager of Intel's 2-in-1 and Tablet Segment, in an interview with eWEEK. Windows Hello's face-recognition technology relies on the company's RealSense 3D camera (F200) technology to help visually identify users. An infrared sensor helps ensure the system isn't fooled by a printout of a user's face.
The companies collaborated while "Microsoft started coming out with their next-gen facial recognition for Hello," said Newman. "The F200 already had the horsepower," thus current systems equipped with RealSense have "a leg up on being Hello-ready," he said.
In terms of Windows 10 hardware, Newman is bullish on upcoming devices featuring his company's sixth-generation "Skylake" processors, particularly two-in-ones, which have been an "incredibly strong segment for us," he said. Systems based on the new processors, due out by the holidays, will represent the "next step in performance and power efficiency," spurring corporate buyers to consider replacing their aging Windows 7 machines.
"There's been a ton of innovation in PCs of late," Newman said, adding that once business users experience Windows 10 on Skylake, they will be "incredibly impressed."