Windows 10 news, including the release of Spartan browser in latest build

  • Spartan browser arrives in latest build.
  • The operating system will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users during the first year.
  • If you do not upgrade in the first year, you will be charged. There has been some confusion around pricing - but Microsoft is expected to charge a one-off license fee and NOT move to a subscription model.
  • Windows 10 will launch in late-2015. The Technical Preview will end on 15 April 2015.
  • Microsoft also debuted the 84in Microsoft Surface Hub and Windows Holographic. The latter will allow users to create 3D models via a custom-built HoloLens.

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Windows 10 latest news

Windows 10 will launch globally in 190 countries this summer, and details about what to expect from the next-gen OS are slowly being revealed - officially and via leaks. Here's our roundup of the latest Windows 10 news.

17/04/2015: The Windows 10 Technical Preview is being pulled from its most popular phones, after users previewing the operating system began to report huge issues.

As reported by Windows Central, a Microsoft employee wrote in the Windows Insider forum: "We are seeing some reports of failures on Lumia 520/525/526 devices when trying to roll back to Windows Phone 8.1 using the Windows Phone Recovery Tool.

"We are pausing build availability for these devices temporarily while we investigate the issue and work with customers who have reported problems."

Users complaining of issues with the build have reported crashing, sometimes before completely bricking their devices.

14/04/2015: The second Windows 10 preview for mobile brings Project Spartan to Windows Phone for the first time, at least to Lumia devices.

Announced in a Windows Phone blog post, Spartan is now present on some Windows 10 mobile devices, a week after its debut on desktop. The preview isn't perfect, however, with some bugs expected to greet those early adopters.

"This build, like last week's desktop build, is a very early look at software that we're actively developing," Kyle Pflug, programme manager at Project Spartan, said.

"You'll still find Internet Explorer 11 as the default browser in this preview. In a later update, Project Spartan will be the only browser included on Windows Phones."

13/04/2015: Despite new tech preview builds arriving with increasing speed, Windows 10 still has some tricks up its sleeve. A leaked private build, Build 10056, has displayed some intriguing new features - in addition to tweaks in the personalisation options, a Shazam-style song finding function has also been added to Cortana.

Further changes include a brace of new apps (including Mail and Calendar), and the ability to resize the columns housing Live Tiles in the Start Menu. However, the most interesting feature appears to be the introduction of achievements to Windows. Opening the Windows Insider Hub in the new build will prompt a notification informing the user they've earned an achievement.

This is the first - and so far, only - sign we've seen of desktop achievements, but if they are integrated to Windows 10, it could be an intriguing aspect of the 'gamification' of modern life.

08/04/2015: Windows 10 isn't here yet, but Microsoft is already planning updates. Reports suggest Microsoft will release two major updates to the next-gen OS in 2016, one in June and one in October. Both will be released under a new codename, Redstone - a reference to the game Minecraft, which Microsoft bought last year for $2 billion. 

The updates are expected to arrive automatically to Windows 10 users, and will include some new functionality, including support for additional devices, according to another report

Windows 10 release date

Windows 10 Technical Preview ends on 15 April 2015 and the general release is tipped for later this year. Exact launch date of the full build is yet to be confirmed. 

Windows 10: Faster builds

News that Microsoft is planning to accelerate its release schedule for Windows 10 preview builds has appeared following the event. An announcement in the Windows Insider Hub app (available only for existing Windows 10 users, via ZDNet) said: 

"We've heard your feedback asking for more frequent builds - and as Gabe mentioned in his recent blog post, we've probably been too conservative about pushing builds to the Fast ring for Windows Insiders. So we're preparing to speed up the build releases for those who want to live life in the Fast lane.

"The good news is that Insiders who choose Fast will be getting fresher code, with all of the features and fixes, more often. The potential downside is that as we go faster, the builds will likely include more bugs with fewer workarounds. If this doesn't sound like something you want to deal with, now is your time to switch to Slow."

Windows 10: Latest builds

The release of Technical Preview Build 10041 brings Cortana to UK desktops.

Previously, the feature was once available to users in the US (there was a way of tricking UK desktops into enabling the feature on the previous build by changing settings). In addition to the UK, Cortana now also works in France, Italy, Germany and Spain.

The feature is still developing, so may not work as well as could be expected but it can search for files, apps, settings and stuff on the web. Cortana also promises to learn and make results more personalised as time goes on.

Build 10041 has been released as part of the “fast ring” that Microsoft has set up for users who want access to the latest features. Understandably, this build may not be as stable as other builds. Users in the “slow ring” of the Windows Insider program may well be able to get the update at a later date.

Other features now include improved handwriting recognition for pen users and a Network Fly-out setting giving access to network settings from the taskbar network icon.

There are also enhancements to the Photos app that now includes images from OneDrive and support for RAW files.

Improvements have also been made to the Windows Insider program itself with the feedback app featuring the ability to filter feedback as well as suggestions versus problems.

Earlier this month, details emerged about another Windows 10 build (dubbed 9888), which reveals even more about what users can expect from the OS when it finally arrives next year.

The build has was intended to be a partner-only release that was not scheduled to be formally pushed out to the public, but since then has been leaked online.

According to a report on Winbeta, the build has popped up on various file-sharing sites, but users are being advised against installing it because it was never intended for public release.

Therefore, it's uncertain if those that do will be able to install other builds or Windows 10 updates as and when Microsoft releases them.

follow-up report from tech site Neowin suggests users that do opt to install build 9888 will not be excluded from future Windows 10 updates, but - because the release is not supported by Microsoft - may experience problems when coming to update it later down the line.

The 9888 build features new-look animations, introduces the concept of unified context menus and makes the zPC settings app the default means of applying new settings. 

In the meantime, the November update (build 9879) for the Technical Preview of Windows 10 (which is widely considered to be the last Microsoft will push out in 2014) has been making its way to those signed up to the "Slow Ring" within the Windows Insider programme in recent days.

As part of the programme, the software giant lets users choose how quickly and often they receive the build updates. Those who opt for the "Fast Ring" will receive more frequent updates that carry with them a higher risk of bugs. 

Meanwhile, those who sign up for the "Slow Ring" will reportedly receive fewer updates and the ones they do get should be more stables as many of the bugs in them will have been picked up already by members of the "Fast Ring."

The 9879 build has since been updated too, to fix some functionality issues within the Windows 10 Explorer function.

Windows 10 Tech Preview launch: September 2014

The Windows 10 launch event was presided over by Windows chief Terry Myerson at the end of September 2014, who confirmed the OS will be called neither Windows 9 nor Threshold, despite numerous reports to the contrary. 

During his time on stage, he talked up the importance of Windows to the enterprise, before going on to explain the new OS will work on the "broadest" range of devices possible.

"Enterprises need to evaluate Windows early, and we're starting our dialogue with them today," he said.

Myerson also spoke about how Microsoft wants the development of Windows 10 to be more collaborative that previous iterations of the software.

"We're planning to share more than we ever have before... earlier that we have before," he said.

This sharing will be done through the newly-launched Windows Insider Programme, which will provide users with a forum to share feedback on beta versions ahead of its general release in 2015.

The Technical Preview is aimed at developers, and is designed to allow them to get a taste of what it has to offer ahead of its general release. 

Joe Belfiore, the corporate vice president of the operating systems group at Microsoft, used the event to walk attendees through the many new features Windows 10 has to offer.

These include a new multi-tasking feature called Task View, which showcases all the apps that are currently up and running on the system. 

Another, enterprise-friendly feature of the operating system is that it also features multiple, virtual desktop that users can switch between.

Furthermore, users can call on Task View to help them switch between them and the apps being used on these desktops.

As suggested by various sources and leaks in the run up to the launch, the OS sports a re-worked Start Menu.

He then talked about how the new-look OS will work on two-in-one devices, with users able to initiate a "tablet mode" by simply tapping the touchscreen.

Windows 10 Price

The rumours that Windows 10 will be free for existing Windows 7/8.1 users has been confirmed, with the company revealing that Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year. However, executives declined to comment on the pricing structure after this time frame.

Microsoft has also announced that the free Windows 10 upgrade will also be available to users of pirated software, with Myerson telling Reuters: "We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10."

"Anyone with a qualified device can upgrade to Windows 10, including those with pirated copies of Windows," a Microsoft spokesperson said to The Verge. "We believe customers over time will realise the value of properly licensing Windows and we will make it easy for them to move to legitimate copies."