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

Windows 10 now has 14 million users and counting, with more Windows 7 and 8.1 users upgrading soon

Windows 10 at-a-glance

Windows 10 has launched globally in 190 countries today, 29 July 2015, and Windows Insiders have started to receive their upgrade to the full OS, with Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 users who registered for a free upgrade expecting to see the new OS roll out to them shortly. Here's our round-up of everything you need to know about Windows 10.

  • Windows 10 initial release date set for 29 July.
  • Enterprise users can manage company-wide rollouts for Windows 10 updates.
  • Project Spartan browser finally gets a proper name: Microsoft Edge.
  • Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade during the first year after launch for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 consumer edition users, who can reserve their copy right now.
  • 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

31/07/15: More than 14 million people have downloaded Windows 10 since Microsoft released its latest, greatest operating system on Wednesday.

Redmond claimed feedback has been “overwhelmingly positive” as consumer users take advantage of a one-year free upgrade offer to install and run the OS, with Microsoft aiming to reach one billion devices by 2018.

However, Microsoft reiterated that it is rolling out upgrades in waves, concentrating first of all on Windows Insider users who tested the OS throughout a long preview period, some of whom have reserved upgrades.

“We still have many more upgrades to go before we catch up to each of you that reserved your upgrade,” Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP of Windows and Devices Group, wrote in a blog post yesterday. “Rest assured we are working 24×7 to continue the upgrade process and are prioritizing the quality of your upgrade experience over anything else.”

Those who have reserved upgrades will get a notification appear on their PC’s system tray when the software is ready, and then when it has been downloaded.

29/07/15: Windows 10 has started rolling out to consumers across 190 countries today, with registered Windows 10 insiders receiving the update first. Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users who have pre-registered for the upgrade will also receive the update within the coming days and weeks. Those who have not opted to upgrade yet can still do so now by clicking the alert button in the bottom right-hand side of the tool bar, however during the initial roll-out period they may still have to wait for their upgrade to become available to download.

27/07/15: Windows Insiders who want to check out the new Windows 10 Store will have to upgrade to Windows 10 build 10240 first. The development was flagged by Gabe Aul, general manager for the OS Group Data and Fundamentals team, who has been overseeing much of the developement of Windows 10, on Twitter.

In an official announcement on the Windows Insider Hub said: "The Windows 10 Store team has been making some great fixes and improvements to reliability and performance. To ensure you are able to benefit from these important updates, starting July 24 we will be requiring Insiders who are not running the latest Windows 10 operating system to upgrade their PC; otherwise those affected will be unable to experience the Windows 10 Store."

It is thought that build 10240 will be the same build released to the public on 29 July.

24/07/15: Microsoft and Intel are working hurriedly to patch a but that can reduce the battery life of some machines running Windows 10.

In a statement to PC World, Intel said: "Intel and Microsoft are working to optimise drivers for battery performance on Windows 10 across Intel platforms. While we are working on technical optimisations, we have seen very minor hits to battery life but even the upper end of what we have seen is below 10 per cent. Do know that we expect battery life on Windows 10 systems to be nearly the same as Windows 8.1 systems once the final Windows 10 drivers have been updated and released."

Windows 10 has been receiving a lot of fixes and updates in the past few weeks and, although they have been fairly minor, Microsoft clearly wishes to release as polished a product as possible on 29 July

22/07/15: Windows 10 will revive Microsoft's fortunes in the phone market and restore the company to solid growth, or so hopes CEO Satya Nadella and his management team.

During the company's latest quarterly results call, Nadella said: "Our ... bold ambition is to create more personal computing experiences with Windows and our devices. I am thrilled we are just days away from the start of Windows 10. It's the first step towards our goal of one billion Windows 10 active devices in the fiscal year 2018."

On the consumer side, Nadella said the new OS "is more personal and more productive with Cortana, Office, universal apps, and Continuum. And Windows 10 will deliver innovative new experiences like Inking on Microsoft Edge and gaming across Xbox and PCs, and also opens up entirely new device categories such as HoloLens".

He added that Windows 10 will, Microsoft believes, offer significant benefits to business customers too.

"Windows 10 provides advanced security capabilities with additional features for hardware-based security, mobile work and data protection. It also provides a single device management platform across all devices, from phones to laptops to Internet of Things devices. And Windows 10 helps enterprises stay up to date with Windows Update for Business and Windows Store for Business," Nadella added.

Microsoft's chief also said the company "will have great flagship phones for Windows 10", admitting: "That's actually a segment we don't today have good devices [for], and we hope to change that with Windows 10."

21/07/15: An emergency security patch for Windows 10, dubbed KB3074667, has been issued today to block a vulnaribility made public in the Hacking Team data dump. If left un-fixed, the bug (CVE-2015-2426) could allow hackers to remotely take control of a person's computer without them knowing via malicious documents or websites that use OpenType fonts.

More information on the vulnerability, the patch, and Hacking Team can be found here.

20/07/15: In a surprise move, Microsoft has updated its Windows 10 website to reveal mainstream support for Windows 10 will end in 2020, with extended support ending in 2025.

This will include mandatory software updates for Windows 10 Home edition, which will occur without warning. However, unlike current update batches, commonly known as Patch Tuesday, which occur on start up or restart, the Windows 10 updates will download and install in the background.

Business users and IT departments will still be able to opt out of automatic updates if they so wish.

03/07/15: Not everyone will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 on 29 July, with Microsoft confirming it will roll out the operating system in waves.

The first to get the finished version of the product will be the five million Windows 10 Insiders currently using the operating system in preview.

Following that, Redmond will begin notifying the millions who have reserved Windows 10 upgrades.

Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, wrote in a blog post yesterday: “Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders.

"From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.

"If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."

It’s not clear how long this scale-up process will take, with Myerson keeping quiet on timescales. Nor was it mentioned how quickly all Insiders will get 10 installed.

OEM partners will receive a build of Windows 10 to image new devices with, and another build will go to retailers to upgrade unsold devices currently running Windows 8.1.

Both Windows 10 Pro and Home versions will be available on 29 July, while volume licensing customers will be able to download Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education on Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC) from 1 August.

24/06/15: Windows 10 uptake in businesses could be as high as 73 per cent within the first two years of release, according to a report from Spiceworks. The survey of IT professionals revealed the return of the Start button, free upgrades and better security are the most appealing factors of Windows 10. If the survey is accurate, this would be a faster adoption rate than Wthe 60 per cent adoption seen by Windows 7 - currently the most widely used Windows operating system - over the same time period.

15/06/15: Facebook's forthcoming virtual reality headset Oculus Rift will have native support on the Windows 10 operating system, according to the VR device's launch event last week.

Whether users will be able to use the Rift with a 360-degree interactive desktop, or whether Microsoft will simply allow app developers to stream their content to the device, however, is currently unclear.

Microsoft has also announced the development of a universal app for Skype that will come preinstalled with every copy of Windows 10.

This move is part of Microsoft's effort to bring more people into its app ecosystem with Windows 10, which has also included signing contracts with several OEMs to preinstall other selected Office apps on their devices.

18/05/15: Only people using genuine copies of Windows 7 or 8.1 will be able to upgrade free to Windows 10, Microsoft has confirmed, dispelling rumours it would also be available for users of pirate copies of the operating system.

Earlier this year, Microsoft appeared to indicate it would offer a free upgrade to pirates, with operating systems chief Terry Myerson telling Reuters: "We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10."

However, in a blog post Microsoft clarified that only those who are using a legitimate version of Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 will be entitled to the free Windows 10 upgrade, although Myerson did express sympathy for accidental victims of piracy.

"Microsoft and our OEM partners know that many consumers are unwitting victims of piracy, and with Windows 10, we would like all of our customers to move forward with us together," Myerson said.

"While our free offer to upgrade to Windows 10 will not apply to non-genuine Windows devices, and as we've always done, we will continue to offer Windows 10 to customers running devices in a non-genuine state," he added, meaning these customers will have to shell out for the full license fee.

Windows 10 release date

Windows 10 started to roll out to consumers on 29 July 2015, as Microsoft announced at the beginning of June.

The news of a July release came as little surprise to Microsoft watchers. The company had stated the release would come this summer, and AMD's CEO Lisa Su tipped the world off to a July launch thanks to a a slip of the tongue during an earnings call in April.

The general release version of Windows 10 is almost identical to the latest version of Windows 10 Technical preview, build 10240, which came out on 15 July - the same day as it hit RTM.

The first to get the finished version of the product are the five million Windows 10 Insiders currently using the operating system in preview.

Following that, Redmond will begin notifying the millions who have reserved Windows 10 upgrades, according to Terry Myerson, Microsoft’s executive VP of operating systems, who wrote in a blog post: "Starting on July 29, we will start rolling out Windows 10 to our Windows Insiders.

"From there, we will start notifying reserved systems in waves, slowly scaling up after July 29th. Each day of the roll-out, we will listen, learn and update the experience for all Windows 10 users.

"If you reserved your copy of Windows 10, we will notify you once our compatibility work confirms you will have a great experience, and Windows 10 has been downloaded on your system."

The RTM build has already been delivered to OEM partners to image new devices and another build is being delivered to retailers to upgrade unsold devices currently running Windows 8.1.

While Windows 10 Pro and Home versions were made available to consumers on 29 July, volume licensing customers will have to wait until 1 August to download Windows 10 Enterprise and Windows 10 Education from the Volume Licensing Service Center (VLSC).

System requirements for Windows 10 can be found here.

Fast and slow track releases

Windows Insider Program subscribers can sign up to either the Fast Ring or Slow Ring of releases. As the names indicate, the Fast Ring receives builds as soon as they become available. This has the benefit of allowing users to get their hands on the latest build straight away, but the disadvantage of having more bugs.

Those on the Slow Ring will not receive builds for a while after they become available to the Fast Ring, but they will be more polished with fewer performance issues or potential vulnerabilities. It is also possible to move between the two if you find Fast Ring too buggy or Slow Ring too slow.