Windows 10 release date, features, devices and free upgrade: Everything you need to know about Microsoft's latest OS

Microsoft pulls latest Windows 10 update download over privacy concerns

Windows 10 at-a-glance

Windows 10 launched globally on 29 July, with Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users, as well as Windows Insiders, all starting to receive their free upgrade to the new OS. Here's our round-up of everything you need to know about Windows 10.

  • Windows 10 started rolling out on 29 July 2015 as a phased release
  • Read our full review of Windows 10 here
  • Enterprise users can manage company-wide rollouts for Windows 10 updates
  • Microsoft Edge replaces Internet Explorer as Windows 10's default browser
  • Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 consumer edition users during the first year after launch
  • If they don't upgrade within the year, consumers will be charged from £100
  • Android and iOS apps will run on the new OS

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Windows 10 latest news

25/11/2015: Microsoft has been forced to pull the latest version of its Windows 10 OS download over privacy concerns. 

The Windows 10 Media Creation Tool enables users to download installation files for a clean installation of the OS, but the upgrade was removed on Friday night with no explanation from Microsoft, before making the upgrade available again earlier this week.

In a statement, Microsoft said it had learned of an issue that "could have impacted an extremely small number of people who had already installed Windows 10 and applied the November update" - turning their privacy settings off and returning them to the default.

"Once these customers installed the November update, a few of their settings preferences may have inadvertently not been retained."

"For these customers, we will restore their [privacy] settings over the coming days and we apologise for the inconvenience. We worked to resolve the issue as quickly as possible - it will not impact future installs of the November update, which is available today," it added.

23/11/2015: The migration of machines to Windows 10 may well be the fastest in history, according to Gartner.

The analyst outfit said that the OS is poised to become the most widely installed version of Windows ever, following the path of Windows XP and Windows 7 before it.

"In the consumer market, a free upgrade coupled with broad legacy device support and automatic over-the-air upgrades ensures that there will be tens of millions of users familiar with the operating system (OS) before the end of 2015," said Steve Kleynhans, research vice president at Gartner. "For businesses, we expect that implementation will be significantly more rapid than that seen withWindows 7 six years ago."

The analysts said that there are several factors are driving migration, specifically awareness of the end of support for Windows 7 in January 2020, strong compatibility with Windows 7 applications and devices, and a pent-up demand for tablet and 2-in-1 device rollouts. The net result is that many organisations are planning to begin pilots for Windows 10 in the first half of 2016, and to broaden their deployments in the latter part of the year. 

16/11/2015: It looks like Microsoft's plan to port Android apps to Windows has been shelved, possibly for good.

According to reports from the Windows Central blog, its Project Astoria is "not going as planned" with Redmond trying to find a way of announcing the news publicly. The report also cited that forums dedicated to the project have fallen largely silent with developer questions going unanswered as well as the Android subsystem being completely removed from Windows 10 build 10586. All other projects porting apps from other OSs to Windows appear to be unaffected.

16/11/2015: It will now be easier than ever to carry out a clean install of Windows 10. Microsoft has made changes within the latest Windows 10 update that allows users to carry out an install of the latest OS from scratch using a Windows 7 or 8.1 key.

Prior to this, users of Windows 7 or 8.1 first had to complete a direct upgrade to the new OS, allow it to be verified by Microsoft and only then do a clean install and start from scratch.

With the Threshold 2 update, users can deploy Windows 10 and then use their license to activate the new copy of the operating system.

13/11/2015: New features in Microsoft's Windows 10 November Update have started coming to light since it began rolling out yesterday, including a preview of integrated Skype messaging.

'The Consumer Preview of Skype Integration for Windows 10', as it has been called, comes as two apps individually named 'Preview of Skype video' and 'Preview for Windows 10 Messaging on PCs plus Skype'.

Despite coming in two parts, it does operate as an integrated system with additional Windows 10-specifc features.

For example, the video program carries over Skype conversation history and can also search the user's Windows 10 address book for Skype contacts.

Meanwhile, the messenger app, while mainly focused on simple text and emoji-based interaction, can be used to start voice and video calls. It also includes a quick reply feature, which will display new messages to users as a small pop-up and allow them to respond without going into the app itself.

The Consumer Preview of Skype Integration for Windows 10 is included in the November update, which began rolling out yesterday and will be delivered as an automatic update to consumers' PCs.

12/11/2015: Windows 10 November update, also known as Fall update and Threshold 2, has started rolling out to the 110 million Windows 10 around the world.

The update - the first major update since Windows 10 launched in July - brings with it a host of improvements, including enhanced performance and security for Edge browser and better overall performance, including a 30 per cent faster boot time. The company also announced additional capabilities for Cortana, however, these are currently limited to the US.

Additionally, this update introduces new enterprise features.

Windows Update for Business offers the ability to set up device groups with staggered deployments and scaling deployments with network optimisations. Windows Store for Business allows IT to find, buy, manage and distribute both Windows Store and custom line of business apps to Windows 10 devices. This means organisations can choose how they would prefer apps to be distributed by assigning them, publishing them to a private store, or connecting with management solutions.

Additionally, there are two new device management upgrades, Mobile Device Management and Azure Active Directory Join. The former allows IT departments to manage PCs, tablets, laptops, phones and IoT endpoints from a single platform, including BYOD management. The latter allows IT to use and maintain a single directory, which can be used to enable single sign-on for all Windows 10 devices.

Windows 10 November update will roll out automatically to consumers while enterprises will have more granular control, which you can read about here

11/11/2015: As well as Patch Tuesday fixing a number of bugs found in Windows 10, Microsoft is gearing up to unveil a number of new features and improvements to the operating system.  

Among the flaws fixed in the monthly security update are ones for .NET, Internet Explorer, Hyper-V and Edge. There are also a number of updates of Microsoft Office.

This comes before the heralded Windows 10 Fall Update (codenamed Threshold 2) which promises improvements to how the OS runs.

06/11/2015: Lenovo is offering up to £200 cashback on many of its Windows 10 devices in the run up to Christmas. The offer is available between now and Christmas Eve, for those buying a qualifying device from

The full redemption is available for devices costing more than £1000 while £100 cashback is available for those spending between £649.99 and £999. The devices included in the offer are:

  • Lenovo C50
  • Lenovo Z51
  • Lenovo H30 Tower PC
  • Lenovo Ideapad 500
  • Lenovo B50Lenovo ideacentre AIO 700
  • Lenovo YOGA 500
  • Lenovo YOGA 3 Pro
  • Lenovo Y70
  • Lenovo Erazer X510 Tower Desktop
  • Lenovo Horizon 2
  • Lenovo Ideapad Y700

Although as is the case with any cashback offer, you'll have to pay the full amount upfront, the redemption process is pretty simple, requiring you just to fill in an online form to get your money back.

Check out for the full terms and conditions.

03/11/2015: Microsoft has set an end date for the sale of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 PCs, giving OEMs until 31 October 2016 to sell hardware with the older OSes pre-installed.

From then onwards, new PCs will be Windows 10 only according to the official Windows Lifecycle Factsheet Page as first noted by ZDNet. Indeed, the death-knell for Windows 8 comes even earlier, with a cut-off date of 30 June 2016 listed.

However, Microsoft will continue to support the operating systems with security updates and bug fixes until January 2020 for Windows 7, January 2023 for Windows 8/8.1, and October 2025 for Windows 10 July 2015 release - i.e. the current release, known also as Threshold 1.

Threshold 2, meanwhile, is set to release on 10 November, according to Neowin. While Windows 10 has received a number of gradual rolling updates, Threshold 2, also known as Fall Update, is thought to contain significant new features such as improved, native Skype messaging and new Cortana features.

Microsoft also released an update for its line of Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book computers today that not only fixes display problems with the devices but teases about future functionality of Windows 10 itself, specifically in relation to the Surface Pen.

Its new settings driver update (v10.0.302.0) adds support for "future functionality on Windows 10". Microsoft has said nothing else about what this future functionality will be, but we wait with baited breath.

02/11/2015: Windows 10 is now used on nearly eight per cent of desktops, with that figure expected to grow further this month.

Microsoft’s operating system had a 7.94 per cent stake in the desktop OS market at the end of October, according to NetMarketShare, up from 6.63 per cent in September.

Previous Windows OSes, including XP, 7 and 8.1, all declined in market share as users migrated to Redmond’s latest offering, though 7 still accounts for 56 per cent of desktop PCs.

The growth may partly be a result of a more aggressive marketing strategy from Microsoft, with notifications on Windows PCs urging users to download the new system.

Last week the company confirmed it would make Windows 10 a recommended update, rather than an optional update, meaning all the bits required to run the OS will be downloaded to people’s PCs every month unless they turn automatic downloads off.

30/10/2015: Microsoft will now begin to download Windows 10 onto users' PCs automatically, in a move it claims is all about "making it easier" to upgrade.

This follows a period of time in which users were frequently shown a pop-up touting the availability of the latest operating system, but this will change when Windows 10 becomes a recommended update and is installed on all Windows 7 or 8 PCs that have automatic updates enabled.

To avoid this, users should block the update manually, but Microsoft strongly opposes this as it could leave PCs vulnerable to threats if automatic updates are disabled. 

In the official blog post, executive vice president of Microsoft's Windows and Devices group, Terry Myerson, wrote: "We understand you care deeply about what happens with your device. This is why - regardless of your upgrade path - you can choose to upgrade or decline the offer.

"That being said, we would encourage everyone to upgrade because Windows 10 is the best Windows ever - familiar, safer, faster and full of innovations."

26/10/2015: Microsoft has announced its Edge browser won't be getting support for extensions as a Windows 10 update this year, but instead those waiting for the company's new browser add-ons will have to wait until 2016.

Microsoft said in a statement: “We’re committed to providing customers with a personalised web experience, which is why bringing extensions to Microsoft Edge continues to be a high priority. We’re actively working to develop a secure extension model to make the safest and most reliable browser for our customers, and look forward to sharing more in a future Windows 10 update in 2016.”

Microsoft earlier hinted that extensions would be shipping alongside the Threshold 2 updated anticipated to be rolled out before the end of 2015. Instead, the ability to add extensions will be coming in the Redstone update next year.

23/10/2015: Microsoft has revealed its earnings report for the first financial quarter of 2016, indicating a strong start for Windows 10.

Although Windows OEM revenue has fallen by six per cent, the company claims in the report that it is "performing better than the overall PC market" thanks to Windows 10 spurring new device adoption.

Windows 10 also gave a market share boost to Microsoft's Bing, which is the default search engine for many of the operating system's apps and features. Using 'Constant Currency' adjustments to account for foreign exchange rates, Bing's advertising revenue is reportedly up by 29 per cent.

The company's mobile arm did not do quite as well - revenue from its phones was down a whopping 54 per cent in Constant Currency. However, this is likely due to a lack of new devices released, as the company geared up for the launch of the new Lumia 950 and 950 XL flagships earlier this month.

22/10/2015: Microsoft will deliver its next big Windows 10 update in November, according to reports.

The new build, known internally as Threshold 2, will provide new features such as coloured title bars for apps on the desktop and improved context menus, The Verge reported.

Other new functionality will allegedly include messaging and Skype Video apps for the operating system, while Paul Thurrott suggested Cortana and the Edge browser will get improvements, too.

The Windows 10 Fall Update, as Microsoft calls it, will be distributed through Windows Update, and it will likely be delivered within the first week of November, according to The Verge.

In other news, Microsoft’s Gabe Aul reported that Redmond has fixed the bug preventing mobile users from upgrading to the latest build from their existing one – they previously had to roll back to Windows 8.1 to install Build 10549.4.

21/10/2015: Cortana will soon be able to send texts from a PC. Microsoft is to release a new preview of its Windows 10 Mobile software today that incorporates the functionality. This mimics a feature that has been part of Mac OS X and the iPhone since the release of Yosemite and iOS 8. 

According to reports from The Verge, texts will be sent from your phone, with Cortana allowing a user to dictate the message into a Windows 10 device. At present the functionality is limited to Windows 10 mobile devices, but could be extended to Android and iOS devices in the future.

20/10/15: Windows 10's business penetration has dramatically outpaced its predecessors, new research shows. 

A report from IT community site Spiceworks suggests Microsoft's new operating system has reached over 11 per cent penetration in UK businesses in its first ten weeks of launch.

This is almost 20 per cent faster than the initial adoption rate of its predecessor, Windows 8.

Another 23 per cent of companies with at least 500 employees have instances of Windows 10 running on their networks, compared to around five per cent of small organisations with less than 50 employees.

19/10/15: It appears that Microsoft is resorting to pleading with users not to use Chrome or Firefox as their default browsers on Windows 10.

If a user tries to switch their default browser, the operating system comes up with a prompt asking users to "give Microsoft Edge a shot". It then says that Microsoft's new browser lets users write on web pages, integrates with Cortana, and includes a reading view. In big letters, it finally begs, "don't switch and try now". Users clicking on this will open up Edge and not change the default browser, according to The Verge.

The firm is also trying the same tactic with its built-in Photos and Groove music apps.

16/10/15: Microsoft has apologised for a mistake in a recent Windows update that led to Window 7 and Windows 8.1 computers being automatically upgraded to Windows 10.

While Microsoft has been heavily promoting its new OS and strongly encouraging customers to upgrade, it has been an opt-in, rather than an opt-out process. However, Ars Technica readers started to complain that the upgrade was happening without their permission.

Microsoft acknowledged the issue, telling the website saying it was an unexpected bug.

"As part of our effort to bring Windows 10 to existing genuine Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers, the Windows 10 upgrade may appear as an optional update in the Windows Update (WU) control panel," Microsoft said in a statement. "This is an intuitive and trusted place [that] people go to find Recommended and Optional updates to Windows. In the recent Windows update, this option was checked as default; this was a mistake and we are removing the check."

15/10/15: A new build of Windows 10 for mobile was made available to members of Microsoft’s Insiders Program yesterday after people waited a month for the latest release.

However, users need a phone running Redmond’s last mobile OS, Windows 8.1, in order to download Build 10549, owing to a bug developers found at the last minute.

Microsoft’s Gabe Aul said that phones trying to upgrade from the previous build, Build 10536, get stuck at a black screen after downloading the new update.

“Rather than making you wait a little bit longer for us to fix this bug – we decided to release this build as a single update from Windows Phone 8.1,” he wrote in a blog.

Current Insiders can use the Windows Device Recovery Tool to roll back to Windows 8.1, before installing the Windows Insider app, choosing the Fast ring and rebooting their phones.

14/10/2015: Windows 10 Insider Preview builds are about to expire, reaching the end of their life later this week. 

Following October 15 (for builds released between 29 January and 9 July) the PC will begin to reboot every three hours before failing to start at all after two weeks, reports Neowin.

Those using builds 9826 or 10166 should make sure to update as soon as possible though anyone who upgraded to the RTM version of Windows 10 will still be supported after the expiration date.

Microsoft has also introduced the 12-inch Toshiba dynaPad, a high-end tablet that was first unveiled at IFA last month. The tablet comes with a Wacom Active Electrostatics TruPen and promises to 'reinvent' pen and paper.

12/10/2015: While Windows 10 may be available to everyone, Microsoft is still releasing preview builds to those on its Insider program, with the latest build, 10565, being dished out to the fast ring of that program today.

Build 10565 introduces several new features, including Skype integration, which will allow users to reply directly to messages from within Windows without having to open the app. Cortana, meanwhile, will now let those using a touch-enabled device save hand-written notes that include events, dates and times and integrate them into their calendar.

There is also a couple of aesthetic updates, with users now able to match the colour scheme of title bars to their overall colour scheme, "improved context" in Start, including new icons for readjusting tile size, and some new desktop icons.

Improvements to printer management and easier upgrading, plus some bug fixes, have all been introduced - a full list of them, along with known issues in this build, can be read on Gabe Aul's blog post.

Aside from this solid news, there's also a suggestion that development has begun on the mysterious "Windows Redstone".

Redstone is thought to be the codename for what will effectively be Windows 10.1. According to WinBeta, Redstone has been in the planning phase for the past several months, but the website "can confirm that Redstone has now entered early development and has been for a few weeks, meaning engineers are now beginning to lay-down code".

While Redstone is allegedly in the early phases of development and, therefore, quite a long way off from RTM, WinBeta has also claimed that Threshold 2 - a significant update to, but not a new version of, Windows 10 - will be ready for sign-off "soon".

How soon this actually could be is anyone's guess, but IT Pro would speculate that Microsoft could be moving to an annual update model, a la Apple OS X. If correct, this would mean a new version of Windows 10 could be released in summer next year. 

05/10/2015: The latest Windows 10 adoption figures have revealed its growth is slowing, but 100 million devices were running the operating system as of 30 September.

US analytics company Net Applications measured the number of people utilising the platform, revealing Windows 10's user share grew 1.4 per cent in September, taking the total up to 6.6 per cent of web users.

Windows 7 is still the most widely used of Microsoft's computer operating systems, with around 925 million devices using it, while Windows 8 is trailing far behind at around 230 million.

Windows 10 accounts for 7.3 per cent of all Windows devices accessing the internet, compared to 6.6 per cent of all devices, which also includes Mac OS X and others with smaller shares such as Linux.

However, Microsoft has neither confirmed nor denied these figures, preferring to keep its download numbers close to its chest.

29/09/2015: Terry Myerson, VP of the Windows and Devices Group at Microsoft has taken to the official Windows blog to try and allay some of the continuing concerns around privacy in Windows 10.

"From the very beginning, we designed Windows 10 with two straightforward privacy principles in mind:

  1. Windows 10 collects information so the product will work better for you.
  2. You are in control with the ability to determine what information is collected.

With Windows 10, information we collect is encrypted in transit to our servers, and then stored in secure facilities," Myerson said.

Myerson broke down the data the company does and does not collect into three segments: Safety and reliability, personalisation, and advertising.

For safety and reliability, Myerson said Microsoft collects "a limited amount of information to help us provide a secure and reliable experience".

While this may include anonymised device information, Myerson said, "[it] doesn't include any of your content or files, and we take several steps to avoid collecting any information that directly identifies you, such as your name, email address or account ID".

Personalisation is something that has caused particular concern with regards to security, but Myerson has sought to allay these fears by pointing out that users "are in control of the information we collect for these purposes and can update your settings at any time".

"Note that with new features like Cortana which require more personal information to deliver the full experience, you are asked if you want to turn them on and are given additional privacy customisation options," he added.

Finally, while the Scroogled campaign may be dead, its spirit certainly lives on. The under the third section heading, labelled simply "advertising data we don't collect", Myerson writes: "Unlike some other platforms, no matter what privacy options you choose, neither Windows 10 nor any other Microsoft software scans the content of your email or other communications, or your files, in order to deliver targeted advertising to you."

25/09/2015: Microsoft is said to have missed a self-imposed deadline to release its Skype messaging apps for Windows 10, according to this report by The apps were supposed to be in preview stage by the end of summer.

The report said that Skype suffered downtime earlier this week due to a "larger-than-usual configuration change” that some versions of Skype were unable to process correctly. It was further suggested that the downtime and delays in releasing the apps were related to each other.

22/09/2015: Microsoft's latest version of its flagship Office productivity suite, Office 2016, includes several new Windows 10 focused features - most notably integration with Cortana and Hello.

Cortana will integrate with Outlook in particular and show information on meetings, including agenda and location stored in the Outlook calendar. Additionally, she will take into consideration live travel conditions, for example, when a user is traveling to a remote location and advise them when to leave accordingly.

Windows Hello, meanwhile, is used as a single sign-on for Windows 10 and Office 365, meaning the user will be automatically connected to the cloud when they use facial recognition to log in.

11/09/2015: Some Windows 7 and 8 users have started to find an unwelcome visitor squatting on their system - the installer for Windows 10.

An Inquirer reader reported finding the full download of Windows 10 in a folder on his PC, despite not asking for the upgrade or even "reserving" a copy, as Microsoft has been hassling many users to do via a pop-up.

The reader was sure of this as he has no plans to upgrade, but discovered a hidden folder taking up 6GB of space after his internet connection slowed to a crawl for a week.

The auto-download is no bug - Microsoft admitted it's intentional. “For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade," the company told The Guardian.

09/09/2015: Dell has agreed to sell the Surface Pro range alongside its own tablet offerings, as Microsoft pushes the Windows 10-running device at the enterprise.

The hardware giant will start selling the tablet in its US and Canada stores from October, before selling it at later in the year. The partnership will be rolled out to 28 other geographies starting in early 2016.

Redmond has also signed agreements with Avanade, HP and Accenture under its Surface Enterprise Initiative to sell more Windows 10 devices to business users. Around 75 million devices already run Windows 10, according to the company.

02/09/2015: Native translation support for Cortana in Windows 10 is now available in the US and China, allowing users to translate English and Chinese words and phrases into a total of 38 languages.

The same blog post states that more versions of Windows 10 will be supported "in the near future". Specifically, Microsoft says it is planning to bring the digital assistant to Mexico, Brazil and with French support in Canada by the end of 2015.

For 'Insider Program' users (with Build 10532 or later) in Canada, Australia and Japan, Microsoft has made Cortana available via an optional download. Users in India can already use Cortana in English.  

02/09/2015: VMware is set to speed up business deployments of Windows 10 with a new product titled Project A2 (pronounced A-squared).

The initiative, currently in preview, combines app virtualisation and enterprise mobility management technologies to virtualise then install Windows 10, before managing all applications and devices via a single view.

Sumit Dhawan, VMware's senior VP and general manager of desktop products for end-user computing, wrote in a blog post: “Most of our current customers deploy and manage Windows images and distribute applications as part of the image updates or via tools that are used in concert with image management.

“This often leads to difficulty in managing application lifecycles that include updates and rollbacks. This is why we announced Project A2, a solution that has two key components: VMware App Volumes for real-time delivering and managing applications, and AirWatch for managing Windows 10 environments and devices.”