Windows 10 release date, features, devices and free upgrade: Windows 10 free upgrade offer ends tomorrow

From Saturday onwards, Windows 10 will cost £100

Windows 10 at-a-glance

Windows 10 launched globally on 29 July 2015, 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 free upgrade
  • Windows 10 free upgrade ends 29 July 2016 and Anniversary Update launches on 2 August
  • 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
  • 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

28/07/2016: Tomorrow marks the end of Microsoft's one-year free upgrade offer for Windows 10.

Those who do not upgrade from Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 to Windows 10 before the end of the day tomorrow will have to fork out £100 to get the new operating system.

The end of the free ugrade period will also mark the end of so-called Windows 10 nagware - the pop-ups prompting users to move to the latest OS that have been irritating many Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users who do not wish to upgrade.

On Tuesday next week, the company will start rolling out the biggest upgrade to the OS since its launch, the Windows 10 Anniversary Update, codenamed Windows 10 Redstone.

21/07/2016: Microsoft has been ordered by French data protection authorities to cease its "excessive" collection of Windows 10 users' data and to stop monitoring their internet activity without consent.

The country's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) published a formal notice on its website outlining Windows 10's "many failures" of privacy and security, and giving the company three months to fix them. If it doesn't, the CNIL may appoint an internal investigator to issue sanctions against it.

"The purpose of the notice is not to prohibit any advertising on the company's services," the posting read, "but, rather, to enable users to make their choice freely, having been properly informed of their rights."

Officials specifically highlighted "the seriousness of the breaches and the number of individuals concerned," with the CNIL noting that it affected more than 10 million Windows 10 users on French soil.

Among the reported issues were concerns over the security of Windows 10's PIN login option. Users have unlimited attempts to enter a four-digit character, the notice pointed out, "which means that user data is not secure or confidential".

It also cited a lack of user choice and consent regarding Microsoft's advertising practices. The advertising options which allow browsing to be monitored are active by default, and users are not informed about cookies or able to block them.

Furthermore, the commission also discovered that Microsoft was still transferring French citizens' data outside the EU based on the now-invalid 'safe harbor agreement, which was struck down by the EU Court of Justice in October 2015.

The investigation was launched following reports of Microsoft's high levels of data collection, which came to light when Windows 10 was released. It was conducted jointly with other European data protection regulators, who are "continuing their investigations within their respective national procedures".

20/07/2016: Almost 40 per cent of companies in EMEA are using Windows 10, with security a key factor in the decision to upgrade systems, Spiceworks has revealed.

In fact, double the number of EMEA respondents cited security as a reason to make the move compared to those in the US. The overall number surveyed was 866 across the US and EMEA.

“We know security is often the most important IT initiative in organisations across EMEA so it’s not surprising to see that the enhanced security offered by Windows 10 is one of the biggest adoption drivers,” said John Webb, general manager of EMEA at Spiceworks.

Spiceworks said the majority of customers who have upgraded computers and other devices to Windows 10 are satisfied, although Windows 7 still holds the highest levels of satisfaction among the companies questioned.

Those most likely to upgrade revealed they had at least 250 employees, demonstrating it’s an attractive operating system for medium and large enterprises.

This is probably driven by the number of companies taking advantage of Microsoft’s free upgrade initiative (valid until 29 July), although it would seem smaller companies are happier to wait until the end of life for their devices before upgrading.

Other reasons organisations haven’t chosen to make the jump to Windows 10 include that it’s incompatible with current systems and 38 per cent said they were unhappy about the lack of control over Windows updates or they were concerned with bugs in early releases.

“Despite the new features and functionality in Windows 10, some organisations are satisfied with their current operating system and may wait to upgrade until its end of life,” Webb added.

18/07/2016: Microsoft will not hit its goal of one billion Windows 10 downloads by July 2018, it has admitted one year after the operating system was released.

While the OS now runs on 350 million devices, Microsoft has written off its goal with two years still to go because of its troubled smartphone strategy.

A Microsoft spokesman said in a statement: “Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350M monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement.

“We’re pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices.”

Revenue for Microsoft’s phone division fell 46 per cent year-on-year in the three months ending March, and its Windows Phone-running hardware sold just 2.3 million units, a 73 per cent drop.

Instead, Redmond plans to focus on growing the number of devices running Windows 10 by focusing on enterprise contracts and making the well-received OS more useful to users. 

The spokesman said: “In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices – and increasing customer delight with Windows.”

15/07/2016: Microsoft will roll out its forthcoming Windows 10 Anniversary Update in waves, starting from 2 August.

Dona Sarkar, the new chief of the Windows Insider programme, told Windows Weekly (via Digital Trends) that Microsoft is looking into different ways of delivering updates.

Currently, when fresh Windows 10 builds are dispatched to Windows Insiders, they request a full re-installation, but leave files and programs untouched.

“There are many ways to do it,” said Sarker, responding to a question about releasing incremental Insider updates instead of full installs.

“So we’re trying a lot of different things in-house to see what makes sense for PC versus phone, what makes sense for Fast Ring versus Slow Ring. In terms of what we were working on last week, it was a little bit of that, but also we don’t ship a build unless we know we can upgrade from that build to the next build without any issues.”

From there, Sarker explained that Windows Anniversary Update will be handled in waves next month.

“It’s going take some time,” she said. “We’ll start with PC and phone, and it’s going to be a global rollout… it’s going to take a little while to roll out to everybody. Xbox and HoloLens… those come at different times since the end device is just separate.”

14/07/2016: Windows 10 can save businesses $404 per user, according to an independent analysis of the benefits of deploying Microsoft’s new operating systems.

Analyst house Forrester drew up a scenario for a hypothetical business deploying the OS for 20,000 employees (based on four real firms it looked at that are doing so), calculating the costs and savings over a three-year period.

Forrester assumed the hypothetical organisation was not spending money on licenses, because they would be covered under a volume licensing agreement, giving the business a spend of $4.3 million on deploying Windows 10.

Over three years, Windows 10 would save the company $12.4 million, giving an overall saving of $8.1 million, according to the analyst house, a 188 per cent return on investment.

Those savings were sourced in several ways, but mainly through improved end user productivity – saving between $982,800 and $3.12 million per year.

Forrester said: “Employees, especially mobile workers, estimate they can take advantage of 25% of time previously unavailable for work, enabling them to get more done more quickly wherever they may be.”

Costs were evenly split between planning and implementation (up to $1,646,190 per year) and later rollouts (up to $1,507,013 per year), with a small amount spent on ongoing task management.

You can read the full study here

13/07/2016: Microsoft has announced pricing for a new tier of Windows 10 aimed at making the operating system more affordable for enterprise customers.

Windows 10 Enterprise E3 with be priced at $7 (approximately £5.30) per seat, per month.

The service is essentially the existing Windows 10 Enterprise, with its security and management capabilities, delivered through Microsoft’s Cloud Service Provider (CSP) infrastructure.

“In most instances, organisations are moving quickly to Windows 10 due to the heightened security risks they face and the industry-leading security features in Windows 10 that can help protect them. Companies of all sizes face real security threats from sophisticated hackers and cyber-terrorists, costing an average of $12 million an incident,” explained Yusuf Mehdi, corporate vice president of the Windows and devices group at Microsoft.

“CSP partners will be able to provide a subscription to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition as part of a managed service offering, which is ideal for businesses who do not have dedicated IT resources or limited IT staff, and want their licensing and IT needs managed by a trusted and experienced partner.”

Microsoft will also be offering an enhanced subscription to businesses via CSP, in the form of Windows 10 Enterprise E5. This service will supply more features, including Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection. Pricing for this tier has not yet been revealed, but it will be more costly than the E3 service.

As well as offering Windows 10 to businesses in its new cloud packages, Microsoft will also be giving its partners the options to supply Surface devices to businesses. Registered Cloud Solution Providers, who are also Surface Authorized Distributors, can offer Surface devices through a managed service offering to resellers and customers. Microsoft said this will gives businesses access to the latest Surface devices to used alongside their current versions of Windows and Office.

More on these announcements, which coincide with Microsoft’s annual Worldwide Partner Conference, can be found here.

12/07/2016: Microsoft’s decision to end free Windows 10 upgrades on 29 July might boost falling sales of PCs, it is believed.

The market has been in decline for years, though analyst house IDC spotted that sales in the second quarter of 2016 fell three per cent less than expected.

Instead of dropping 7.4 per cent as predicted compared to the same period last year, PC unit sales declined just 4.5 per cent to 62.4 million units.

The better-than-expected results might improve in the second half of 2016 thanks to Microsoft starting to charge £99 and £130 for Windows 10 upgrades from 29 July, too.

“The expiration of free Windows 10 upgrades may transition some users into buying new systems rather than updating older ones,” IDC explained. “Commercial evaluations of Windows 10 remain healthy and a near-term driver that could also be contributing to the relative strength in U.S. shipments.

However, that doesn’t mean PCs will recover completely from the advent of smartphones and tablets eating into its market share.

IDC’s VP of worldwide PC trackers, Loren Loverde, said: “It's not dramatic growth, but it could push the market into positive territory slightly ahead of our forecast for 2018."

11/07/2016: Microsoft is checking the final code ahead of the launch of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

Redmond has also previewed build version 14383 of Windows 10 Anniversary for Windows Insiders on the fast ring, with the launch of the anniversary edition imminent.

"This is because we’re beginning to check in final code," engineer Donar Sarkar said in a blog post.

The update brings a host of new bug fixes and minor changes, including the loss of the desktop watermark, a direct link to the Extensions pane in Microsoft Edge and new keyboard shortcuts to improve the Cortana experience.

Additionally, Microsoft said updates to the Quick Action area of Action Center will be preserved across upgrades from now on.

A list of fixes on both PC and mobile were also listed, including rectifying screen orientation confusion on the Surface Book when an external monitor is connected, issues with some Bluetooth mice behaving erratically and Microsoft Edge compatibility issues with LastPass.

However, the company said this isn't the end of updates before the final build is released generally on 2 August. "We’re not finished yet and will have more builds to release to Windows Insiders between now and then. Remember you guys play a big role in helping us decide which are the final *final* bits that we ship globally," Sarkar said.

07/07/2016: Microsoft is planning to strong-arm businesses into upgrading to Windows 10 Enterprise Edition, by gating off access to forthcoming client-side virtualization tools.

The company announced earlier this week that users will no longer have to separately download and deploy instances of Application Virtualisation (App-V) and User Environment Virtualisation (UE-V).

Instead, they will be included with Windows 10 following the Anniversary Update, and will require no additional deployment or maintenance outside of the regular Windows update procedure.

However, they will only be available in licensed Enterprise or Education Edition deployments. Anyone currently running a Windows 10 Professional deployment or earlier will need to upgrade.

"Direct upgrades to the Pro SKU will result in App-V and UE-V binaries to be removed during the OS migration process," the Tech Net blog post read.

Comprising two of the Microsoft Desktop Optimisation Pack's key components, App-V and UE-V are used respectively to stream applications to systems without requiring local installation, and to allow users to move between endpoints whilst retaining the same OS image and settings.

The announcement comes just ahead of the 29 July cut-off date for the free Windows 10 upgrade and the attendant nagging pop-ups.

Microsoft will presumably want to get as many people upgraded as possible before this happens, and the upgrade becomes more difficult to sell.

06/07/2016: From Minority Report to CSI, futuristic touch-screen furniture has caught the imagination of tech companies, which have pitched interactive tables and display boards at trade shows for years.

Now French company Kineti has decided the place customers really deserve to interact with Windows 10 is in the form of a fashionably tailored coffee table.

The coffee table, called ‘La Table Kineti’, has been shaped from veneered wood and aluminium, and has a full HD (1920x1080) 42in display as its surface, which supports up to 12 multi-touch points.

The table’s built-in Windows 10 computer includes an Intel Core i5 processor, Intel HD 6000 graphics, 8GB of RAM, a 120GB SSD, a single USB 3.0 port, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Kineit claims La Table's waterproof, tempered glass surface is “unbreakable”, just in case you’re anxious an accidental spillage could cause your precious computer-cum-coffee table to short circuit.

However, having coffee table and Cortana in one does not come cheap: the table costs £4,260 (€4,997.00), minus shipping.

On the other hand, the cost is lower significantly lower than the enterprise-focused €12,000 Kapsch Interactive 40 table-PC, as noted by WindowsArea.de, which spotted the table.

Windows-powered tables have been in production for several years. Microsoft’s own ‘Windows table’ was originally known as the Microsoft Surface, before being renamed PixelSense.

04/07/2016: People who have not yet upgraded to Windows 10 are now being greeted with a full-screen pop-up reminder in Microsoft's final push before the free update period comes to an end, the Telegraph reports.

This is Microsoft's latest move to get people to install the new version of Windows on their PC, with many complaining that previous reminders are annoying, misleading or that Windows 10 is being installed automatically in some cases.

It comes after Redmond promised to change the way it presents upgrade notifications, after listing it as a 'recommended' upgrade, something normally reserved for critical security updates, and scheduling in upgrade times for users who dismissed the notifications by clicking the 'x' in the right-hand corner.

The free update period ends on 29 July, and it seems that users still resisting the update will continue to see the full-screen message until the end of the month unless they select the "Do not notify me again" option in the bottom-left corner of the screen. 

30/06/2016: More than 350 million devices are now running Windows 10, according to figures from Microsoft, with the company claiming it has the highest reported customer satisfaction of any Windows operating system.

As well as celebrating the successes of Windows 10, which include more than 135 billion hours of use of the OS since it launched, Microsoft has also taken the opportunity to finally announce when its Anniversary Update will arrive: 2 August, 2016, when the OS is one year and four days old.

The update will include "feautres that bring Windows Ink and Cortana to the mainstream; a faster, more accessible and more power-efficient Microsoft Edge browser; advanced security features for consumers and enterprises; new gaming experiences and new tools for the modern classroom," according to a blog post by Yusuf Mehdi, corporate VP or the Windows and Devices group at Microsoft.

Anniversary Update will be available for free to existing Windows 10 users, however there is now less than a month for people to upgrade from Windows 7 or 8/8.1 to Windows 10. After this time it will cost £100 to upgrade.

29/06/2016: With one month to go before the end of Windows 10 free upgrade, Microsoft has promised to change its upgrade notifications after many complaints that they are confusing.

As Redmond tries to spur adoption of its new operating system, it recently changed how it presents the upgrade to users, calling it a ‘Recommended Update’, a status usually only given to important security updates.

If people clicked on the ‘x’ in the right-hand corner, they would exit the notification, but the action would also schedule an update to Windows 10 for a later date.

A travel agent whose computer slowed to a standstill when the update automatically downloaded onto her computer won against Microsoft in court, claiming she had lost business as a result of the upgrade, receiving a payment of $10,000.

Now, Microsoft plans to offer people clearer upgrade notifications starting this week, according to its executive VP of Windows and Devices, Terry Myerson.

In a statement published by ZDNet, he said: "The new experience has clearer options to upgrade now, choose a time, or decline the free offer. If the red-x is selected on this new dialog, it will dismiss the dialog box and we will notify the device again in a few days. 

“We continue to recommend all of our customers upgrade to Windows 10 before the free upgrade offer expires on July 29. Thousands of engineers have been working on making Windows 10 the most secure version of Windows, helping to protect people from viruses, phishing, identity theft and more. We'd like our customers to upgrade and improve their experience with Windows and Microsoft."

28/06/2016: A travel agent has successfully sued Microsoft for $10,000 after an unauthorised Windows 10 update left her PC useless.

Teri Goldstein from Sausalito, California, sued Microsoft saying she did not give the go-ahead for Microsoft to upgrade her computer, but it mysteriously appeared and made the machine slow to a crawl, while other days it did not work at all.

Although the upgrade happened before Microsoft started using forceful tactics to try to encourage users to upgrade their computer, Goldstein insists she did not give permission.

“I had never heard of Windows 10,” Goldstein said. “Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update."

After she started having problems with her computer's speed, she contacted Microsoft's support services, which also failed to rectify the issue.

She then decided to pursue the company in court, claiming she lost business because her computer was inactive. She also insisted Microsoft bought her a new PC.

However, Microsoft denied wrongdoing, although it decided not to appeal just in case it was told to pay even more than the agreed $10,000.

“We’re continuing to listen to customer feedback and evolve the upgrade experience based on their feedback,” Microsoft said in a statement.

27/06/2016: SnapChat is making its way to Windows Phone 10, according to a tweet from Microsoft's Spanish language support account.

Rodolfo Galán asked Lumia Soporte: "Why can't I install Snapchat? It's not in the Windows Store", to which the support page responded: "It's coming to your Windows Phone soon! We are already working with our friends at Snapchat to release it as soon as possible ^_^".

Unfortunately, "as soon as possible" doesn't really give any indication as to the likely timeline. Windows Phone users have been hankering for an official app for at least three years, when Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel told someone asking for an official version of the app that he "didn't think anyone used those".

Then, in 2014, all non-official Snapchat apps were removed from the Windows store, which led some to believe an official app may be on its way, but none has been forthcoming.

IT Pro has contacted Snapchat for confirmation of Lumia Soporte's statement, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

24/06/2016: Roku has launched a new app exclusive to Windows 10 PCs and tablets. The free app has a new homepage, which Roku said will enable users to "get to ... [their] favourite streaming entertainment content quickly and easily".

"The new Homepage provides you with quick access to your 'My Channels' list and surfaces content available on Roku. With more and more Windows 10 devices supporting both point-and-click, as well as gesture navigation, browsing these lists can be accomplished with a simple swipe or click to bring te next page of content to the front," said Roku in a blog post.

The new app also has a complete list of My Channels in addition to the classic remote and also features Cortana integration, which can be used with the "Hey Cortana" voice search function.

In addition to Roku, Crunchyroll, a streaming service specialising in Japanese Anime, has also launched a new, free Windows 10 app, which also has Cortana integration, as has music and voice streaming service SiriusXM.

23/06/2016: Soon you’ll be able to enjoy Windows 10 without all the bloatware, when Microsoft introduces a new tool designed to remove it.

Currently in preview, Refresh Windows 10, also called Start Fresh (via Windows Central), helps you delete bloatware to run Windows 10 without all the default add-ons.

Bloatware is an unpopular but necessary evil for Microsoft, with the software giant relying on partners like Dell to ship its operating system on their devices. These partners often add their own software on top of the operating system, and it is typically hard to remove.

However, bloatware has also become less popular with the discovery that Lenovo devices were running Superfish bloatware that left users vulnerable to hackers.

17/06/2016: Microsoft has rolled out its latest Windows Insider Build for PC and mobile to users in its fast ring.

Preview build 14367 contains a number of new feature updates and improvements, including an easier way to do a clean install of Windows 10.

There are new keyboard shortcuts for Feedback Hub, which allows users to send their thoughts on their Windows 10 experience to Microsoft.

Windows 10’s handwriting recognition software has received support for 23 new languages, including Indonesian, Malay, and, for the first time, African languages, such as Swahili, Xhosa and Zulu.

It has also created a tool that enables users to do a clean install of Windows 10. More information on that app can be found on the Microsoft Community pages.

Along with these updates, there are also performance tweaks and bug fixes.

Some of these include making cross-device notifications more reliable and fixing issues with Cortana’s search results.

More information on the Windows 10 Insider Preview build 14367 can be found here.

07/06/2016: Microsoft has defended its insistent Windows 10 upgrade tactics following renewed uproar and petitions condemning the company alleged “forced” automatic update.

Microsoft had previously been accused of not giving users consent over whether to upgrade to Windows 10 in March when users took to Twitter and Reddit to complain about their system’s allegedly automatically updating. Then users complained that Microsoft “hide” the decline option behind further information on their upgrade pop-up window.

Last month, stories about further aggressive tactics surfaced. Users reported that they had the ‘x’ button to decline the update, only for the update to begin soon after. This apparent refusal to allow users of Windows 7 or 8 to decline the update has been described as “forceful” and “malicious”.

Microsoft has fought back against allegations about its Windows 10 upgrade approach.

Microsoft said: “The Windows 10 upgrade is a choice – designed to help people take advantage of the most secure, and most productive Windows. People receive multiple notifications to accept the upgrade, and can reschedule or cancel the upgrade if they wish.”

Addressing the issue of the dud cancellation buttons, Microsoft also told ZDNet that that upgrade reminder only appears when a user has accepted the initial Windows 10 upgrade offer. Still, ways to step back from the upgrade track if a user changes their mind are still not straightforward.

Disgruntled Windows users, displeased by Microsoft’s approach to Windows 10, has started a petition for the company to be investigated on Change.org, which had gained 1,800 signatures at the time of publishing.

Microsoft is due to release its Redstone update for Window 10 month, so it will be considering how best to continue its upgrade strategy in its bid to reach a 300 million install base for its latest OS.

02/06/2016: Microsoft has announced its latest Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build, and includes it new cross-device notification features, Cortana improvements and additional performance fixes.

Microsoft had previously announced that better notification integration would be on the way for Windows 10 devices, and mobile build 14356 now allows users to get mobile notifications direct to their Windows 10 PC.

Virtual assistant, Cortana, will now surface users’ phone notifications and critical alerts, from messaging services, SMS or social media, along with missed calls from any Windows 10 phone or Android device to your PC.

Microsoft notes that some functions may not yet be available. Android users will also require Cortana version 1.7.1 installed.

As well as messages, users can now forward photos from their phone directly to their PC wirelessly. Users simply have to ask Cortana to “send this photo to my PC”. This feature is currently exclusive to Windows Phone.

The listening animation for Cortana has also been changing to give it more visual appeal.

Also in mobile build 14356, there are also a score of performance fixes. These include fixes for battery level display icon, high battery use by the Microsoft Health app, and the Glance screen not updating accurately, among others.

See more on Windows 10 Mobile Preview build on the Windows blog.

Alongside this news, Microsoft also announced a change in leadership to its Windows Insider programme. The programme initial leader, Gabe Aul, now corporate vice president of Microsoft's engineering systems team, has passed on leadership duties to Microsoft software engineer Dona Sarker.

Earlier this week, Microsoft also rolled out the same preview build for the desktop version of Windows 10. You can see more about that build here.

31/05/2016: A Microsoft employee has revealed the latest Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview build could be launching today. Peter Skillman tweeted out a blog post announcing the release of the latest desktop version of Windows 10 Insider Preview (build 14352), with the added comment:  "Mostly bug fixes/polish things from us. Phone 14352 postponed until Tuesday."

The blog post lists the changes in the latest version of Windows 10, which include new commands for Cortana that allow the personal assistant to play your music and set timers. The new commands also allow you to query how much time is left on a timer set through Cortana and cancel it using natural language.

Other updates relate to Windows Ink, such as updated sticky notes and a compass added to the ruler, while the feedback hub will soon show Microsoft responses. Smaller updates include a new folder icon and an update to Windows Enterprise edition, making it much simpler to update machines.

Windows phone 10 build 14352 was originally supposed to be launching on 26 May alongside the desktop build, but it was apparently delayed while Microsoft ironed out a few final bugs.

25/05/2016: Microsoft has performed a U-turn on its controversial Windows 10 upgrade notifications that were tricking people into downloading the operating system.

The tech giant has now decided to change its policy following customer feedback, with one critic describing the ploy to garner more Windows 10 users as a “nasty trick”.

Redmond had revamped its Windows 10 upgrade notifications so that, when users clicked on the ‘x’ in the corner of the pop-up to dismiss it, it also sent a message to the company that the user had requested a software download, and would schedule one in.

PC World called out Microsoft for employing the tactic, saying it was a cynical attempt to add to the 300 million devices now running Windows 10.

A Microsoft spokesperson told the BBC: “We've added another notification that confirms the time of the scheduled upgrade and provides the customer [with] an additional opportunity for cancelling or rescheduling the upgrade. 

"If the customer wishes to continue with their upgrade at the designated time, they can click 'OK' or close the notifications with no further action needed."

24/05/2016: Microsoft is tricking people into upgrading to Windows 10 with its pop-up notifications, it is claimed. 

For months, Redmond has been pushing users into downloading its new operating system via a barrage of notifications, which users could dismiss by clicking the ‘x’ in the corner of the box.

It has seen success with this strategy, recently boasting that Windows 10 is running on 300 million devices.

However, Microsoft now wants to employ dirtier tactics to increase its user base even further, according to PC World.

When people click ‘x’ to dismiss the new Windows 10 upgrade notifications, it actually sends a message to Microsoft that they want to install the operating system – and the users are not even notified about it.

23/05/2016: Windows 10 users will be able to switch between Internet Explorer 11 and Edge and back without interruption with the platform's Anniversary update, Microsoft has revealed.

Microsoft explained the feature has been introduced to appease business users - the only group of people it expects would use the older browser.

"We recognise that some enterprise customers have line-of-business applications built specifically for older web technologies, which require Internet Explorer 11," the company said.

The changes will replace Enterprise Mode in Windows 10, which allowed IT staff to limit IE 11's usage to certain applications that only worked on the browser.

At the moment, anyone switching from Edge to IE 11 when opening a page not supported in the newer web browser is presented with a message explaining Edge will switch to the legacy browser before loading up. The change means IE 11 will now open without pausing or displaying a message, making the transition smoother.

Microsoft also revealed its plans to launch a new group policy for IE 11, which will block users from accessing web pages via IE 11, unless they appear on the whitelist.

19/05/2016: Android users will now be able to see notifications from their phones and tablets on a Windows 10 desktop.

The latest version the Cortana for Android app brings the app notification synchronisation feature that users have been asking for a long time.

The feature was noticed by a Reddit user and could be part of the Windows 10 Anniversary update due this summer.

According to the Reddit thread, version 1.7.0.1021-enus-release of Cortana for Android adds Android notifications on Windows. 

With Cortana for Android, users can see calls they have missed and will be able to respond to messages without having to change devices.

17/05/2016: Web notifications for the Microsoft Edge browser are to be included as part of the Windows 10 Anniversary Update.

A preview has been rolled out to the newest Insider Build of Windows 10, and Microsoft has detailed the feature on its developer blog.

Web notifications alert users to updates and activity from contacts and websites they use. These can take the form of message previews, news alerts and download completion alerts.

To keep the notifications consistent with other Windows 10 desktop furniture, the Edge notifications will utilise the Notification Platform. When a user clicks or taps a notification, they will be then be redirected to the source of the notification within the Edge browser.

Browsers such as Google Chrome and Safari already include this feature. Much like those, users will have to give websites permission to send them notifications before they are displayed in the Action Center.

These features are due to be included in Windows 10’s Anniversary Update, due this summer.

Further tweaks will be made to the system later. At present, notifications are displayed in the Action Center under the sole 'Microsoft Edge' category. In future the company intends to arrange them based on their originating website domains to offer better context for each notification. Microsoft is also looking into offline notifications.

More info about Windows Insider Preview, build 14.14342, and the web notifications  for Edge can be found here.

12/05/2016: Microsoft is killing off Windows 10’s ability to share Wi-Fi passwords.

Its Anniversary Update will do away with Wi-Fi Sense this summer after Redmond pulled the feature from Insider previews, claiming not enough people use it.

Gabe Aul, corporate VP of the engineering systems team at Microsoft, wrote in a blog post that it was a simple cost vs demand decision.

“We have removed the Wi-Fi Sense feature that allows you to share Wi-Fi networks with your contacts and to be automatically connected to networks shared by your contacts,” he said. 

“The cost of updating the code to keep this feature working combined with low usage and low demand made this not worth further investment. Wi-Fi Sense, if enabled, will continue to get you connected to open Wi-Fi hotspots that it knows about through crowdsourcing.”  

06/05/2016: Microsoft has revealed 300 million devices are now running Windows 10, less than a year after the operating system's official launch in July 2015.

Yusuf Mehdi corporate vice president of Microsoft’s Windows and Devices Group highlighted some of the platform's key milestones in a blog post, including six billion queries made through Cortana and more than 144 million people using the Photos app since launch, and 63 billion minutes spent on Microsoft Edge in March alone.

"We’re pleased to see Windows 10 become one of the largest online services in less than a year," Mehdi wrote.

"Core to delivering our more personal computing vision, Windows 10 offers experiences that are familiar, safer and more secure, and more personal and productive – enabling innovative new experiences."

He said although the free upgrade offer will end on 29 July 2016, anyone who still wants to get their hands on the upgrade can do so by paying $119 for the Home edition or $199 for the Pro edition.

29/04/2016: In a blog post Microsoft has announced that Cortana will be rid of the option to use Google Chrome and Google search engine capabilities to complete its tasks.

The only search engine that will be used by Cortana will be Bing and the only browser that will be used is Edge, both of which are Microsoft products, which are integrated into Windows 10.

“Cortana was designed to work with Microsoft Edge and is powered by Bing,” Microsoft’s blog states.

Microsoft has claimed that this change of policy is to improve the experience for its users. As other search engines and browsers are not optimised to use Cortana properly.

“This includes scenarios like searching ‘get tickets to Rihanna show’ in the Cortana box, where Microsoft Edge opens to Bing, and Cortana finds the best tickets for your preferences and offers to purchase them on your behalf.”

Although it is still possible to change the settings of the default search engine and browser on Windows 10, Microsoft claims this update will create a better overall experience for the user. 

“Our promise to you is that Windows 10 will provide you with great search results and a personalised, reliable search experience through Cortana and Microsoft Edge.”

28/04/2016: A weather report on a TV station in Des Moines, Iowa was interrupted by a pop-up box urging an upgrade to Windows 10.

Meteorologist Metinka Slater from CBS affiliate KCCI 8 News was live on air when the notification appeared.

The weather forecaster handled the situation calmly. “Ah, Microsoft recommends upgrading to Windows 10. What should I do,” joked Slater. “Don’t you love when that pops up?” 

You can see the video blooper here.

26/04/2016: Microsoft is experimenting with an app Handoff feature, teased at last month's developers conference, which will allow Windows 10 apps to connect to another device via Bluetooth and the cloud.

The company is currently testing apps, reports The Verge, based on its Xbox SmartGlass technology. It's thought that Cortana could also be used for specific apps, and Microsoft may not limit it to Windows 10 apps. iOS and Android apps may also be able to share data with Windows PCs.

Some Windows 10 testers on Reddit have reported settings for handoff in the latest builds of the Anniversary Update, indicating that more users will soon have access to the feature.

22/04/2016: The ability to send text messages from your Windows 10 devices is the top line feature of Microsoft’s latest OS mobile build.

Windows 10 Mobile Insider Preview Build 14327 has begun rolling out to Windows Insiders, and contains the ‘Message everywhere’ feature, which allows users to send and receive text messages to their Windows 10 PCs and handsets.

Microsoft also noted that it has removed Skype integration in its Messaging app, so it can “streamline your experience, replacing the integration with the Skype UWP Preview app for mobile in an upcoming build”.

More languages, including Spanish (Mexico), Portuguese (Brazil) and French (Canada), have been added to virtual assistant Cortana, specifically in this Windows 10 Mobile version.

Other additions in this preview build include fixes for launching issues with Facebook Messenger and apps like WeChat, Bluetooth tethering problems, and an issue where some users’ phones refused to turn on, becoming unresponsive.

You read more about the Windows 10 Mobile’s latest build on the Windows blog.

20/04/2016: New Mail and Calendar features roll out to Insiders

Windows 10 Insiders should now have a new set of Mail and Calendar features this week.

The preview update will allow Insiders to do things like open emails in new windows, and view .eml attachments and save messages in the .eml format.

Microsoft said the upgrade will roll out to all users in the next few weeks.

14/04/2016: Microsoft has revealed a collection of new educational features coming to Windows 10 in its Anniversary Update at its annual Build conference.

For IT administrators and teachers, these include faster and simpler set-up for Windows 10 Education, the ability to schedule updates for specific times when computers will not be in use, secure assessment tools and an "education ready" Windows Store.

Students, on the other hand, will experience faster login times, a more tailored Cortana experience and Windows Ink, which allows students to draw on their devices or digital whiteboards, and create sticky notes.

Explaining the integration of Ink, in particular, Microsoft said in a blog post: "Windows Ink enables students to ... merge their analog thoughts with their digital device."

"Many studies indicate students learn better by writing - for example, diagramming before solving a science problem can lead to 36 per cent higher scores. With Windows Ink, students can do mathematical equations, compose music, and keep their notes organised - all in Windows," the company said.

Additionally, the company will be launching an early access program for Minecraft: Education Edition in June. More information on the programme can be found here.

14/04/2016: Microsoft has launched a virtual version of Windows to show off the operating system’s features to users in an interactive environment.

This virtual version of the OS, which Microsoft is calling a Windows 10 ‘emulator’, exists as a new web portal containing information about its features, apps, and video presentations.

There are 11 topics on the site, which include an introduction to Microsoft’s virtual assistant Cortana, how to personalise your Windows 10 desktop and how the new OS can help keep you organised.

The site also offers details about the Windows 10 experience on tablets and mobiles.

Microsoft is currently directing visitors to the demo via the main Windows homepage.

12/04/16: Microsoft plans to add a whole bunch of new features to Windows 10 that will enhance its usability in the workplace.

Microsoft Passport - Will allow users to unlock their computers via Android phone, Windows Phone or Windows Band. This will be available to use in place of Windows Hello’s facial and fingerprint scanning qualities.

Continuum - Creates a feature that will give the Windows Phone the ability to act as a substitute computer. Keyboards, monitors, and projectors will be able to be used with the phone.

Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection- Is an update that will be used as an upgrade to Microsoft’s currently available security system.

PC to PC casting - Which will create the ability to share from one Windows 10 device to another seamlessly, which is aimed at being used for meetings.

Additionally a new website titled “Windows Roadmap” has been created by Microsoft to display beta versions of several of Microsoft’s new Windows 10 features.

In upcoming versions of Windows 10, such as the Anniversary edition which is to be released this summer, Windows Hello and Windows Ink will be free features that will be packaged along with the operating system.

Windows Hello - Will enable users to use facial recognition or fingerprint recognition as a replacement for passwords.

Windows Ink - Will allow users to write notes on touch-screen devices with the use of a special electronic pen, Windows 10 will be able to recognize and react to certain elements of the writing.

It is also rumored that Microsoft is adding more features to Cortana with the goal of making her more interactive.

11/04/2016: Windows 9, Microsoft’s operating system that never was, has cropped up in a recently published documentation.

Microsoft has never explained why it chosen to skip from Windows 8.1 straight to Windows 10, but a new patent filing, first spotted by Twitter user @h0x0d, suggests a reason behind the move.

Windows 9 – once known as ‘Threshold’, according to the filing – was originally set to be the version that launched last year, while this year’s coming Redstone update – due to be rolled out in July – was pipped to be Windows 10.

An excerpt from the patent, mentioning Windows 9, reads: “Some discussion herein is derived from some Windows 9 ‘Threshold’ documentation. Windows 9 is software implemented by Microsoft Corporation, and along ‘Threshold’ refers generally to marketing or other materials (from third parties as well as Microsoft) to a version of the Microsoft Windows software (marks of Microsoft Corporation).”

There are still no clues to why Microsoft chose to drop its plans for Windows 9 – or, at the very least, marketing last year’s version of Windows as such.

05/04/2016: Microsoft's forthcoming Anniversary Update for Windows 10 will introduce a so-called 'dark theme' for the operating system.

This will paint everything in a darker colour scheme, apart from any apps or features your personalised settings have assigned other colours too, reports Thurrott.com.

It is not yet clear when this feature will reach Windows 10 Insiders, but the publication said it will apply system-wide when it is introduced.

04/04/2016: Microsoft has unveiled some proposed changes to the Start menu in Windows 10 that would bring the All Apps list to more prominence. It also turns items such as Power and Settings into burger menus to make better use of space. 

The changes were revealed by Jen Gentleman, Microsoft software engineer on her Twitter page.

Microsoft is welcoming comments on the redesign in its Feedback hub. It is not known if and when the changes will see the light of day in a future build of the OS.

31/03/2016: Microsoft will bring biometric security to apps and the Edge browser in its Windows 10 Anniversary Update this summer.

Terry Myerson, VP of the Windows and Devices Group, outlined four new features the update will introduce when it arrives, which is expected to be in July.

The first feature is an expansion of Microsoft’s biometric security tool, Windows Hello, to Windows apps and Edge, replacing passwords.

Windows Ink will let users write on their devices as they do on paper, according to Microsoft, and emerges as a challenger to Apple’s Pencil. It is integrated into Maps, Edge, and Office, and developers can build it into their apps with just two lines of code. Writing words such as tomorrow triggers Windows 10 to create a calendar reminder.

The Anniversary Update will make Cortana available from the lock screen, and developers will get full access to the voice assistant’s features within their own apps.

Lastly, Xbox One devices can become developer kits with Xbox Dev Mode, letting anyone with one of the consoles become a developer. 

30/03/2016: Windows 10 now has 270 million users, Microsoft has confirmed at its annual Build conference in San Francisco.

Terry Myerson, VP of the Windows and Devices Group, told the audience at Build 2016 that Windows 10 represents the fastest ever adoption for any of Microsoft's operating systems.

He said: "Windows 10 has been out for eight months and is being actively used by 270 million people. Customers are spending over 75 billion hours on Windows 10", adding that Microsoft is "on track to reach our ambitious goal of one billion Windows 10 devices in the next few years".

However, he did not reveal enterprise adoption rates specifically.

30/03/2016: Microsoft released another update for the preview version of Windows 10’s impending Redstone update over the Easter weekend.

Preview Build 14295 fixes flaws present in the Redstone previews for Windows 10 and Windows 10 Mobile, the first of which is expected to land in June this year.

Gabe Aul, corporate VP of engineering at Microsoft, outlined some of the bugs the build fixes for PC in a blog post, including a flaw preventing the Xbox app and Xbox Live apps and games from signing in.

It also fixed a bug stopping Kaspersky tools like Anti-Virus and Internet Security from working in previous builds.

On Mobile, Aul said the new build solves a problem where phone restores failed to install apps from your backup’s apps list, leaving grey tiles in their places.

Windows Insiders on the Fast ring can now test out the fixes and explore the new build.

23/03/2016: Window 10 Mobile’s inability to natively display some HTML emails has been corrected in a new software build that’s started rolling out to selected handsets, Windows Central has reported.

Mail & Calendar build 17.6769.40522 – reportedly seen on the Lumia 950 and 950 XL, so far – fixes the issue of botched HTML emails formatting in the Outlook app.

Currently, when HTML emails are viewed on the handsets, images protrude from the screen and text disappears beyond its edges. This means users must pinch to shrink the email down to a smaller size and scroll sideways so its content can be viewed.

The new update renders HTML emails as they should be viewed, with the images and text adjusted to fit the headset’s screen.

The update so far appears to target only the models above, but new builds will likely include this feature for other Windows 10 Mobile devices, too.

22/03/2016: OneDrive backup on Windows 10 could be getting a host of improved features in the near future.

According to a leaked build seen by Windows expert Paul Thurrott, an upcoming version of Windows 10 could feature the ability to toggle backups of data like account settings, passwords, apps and start menu layouts on and off.

This would give users much more granular control over the data that OneDrive stores, and allow them to fine-tune their personal storage.

Alongside that, Thurrott also suggests that full device backup functionality could be on the way. Although currently not a feature Microsoft offers, Thurrott suggests that it could be part of the company's move towards platform universality.

The introduction of the ability to duplicate entire local drives would also explain OneDrive's recent removal of unlimited cloud storage for Office 365 subscribers, he says, as it would entail vast spikes in customer data consumption.

21/03/2016: Many PCs running on Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 have begun automatically upgrading to Windows 10 without the user's consent, according to reports from individual consumers and businesses alike.

Many affected users have taken to Twitter or Reddit to voice their complaints, with one user (bnned) writing: "Yep, afk and saw this and saw this message box that said something like 'Your update is ready! Restarting and installing in 13 minutes.' If I made myself a meal or watched tv, I would have had Windows 10.

"Oh, and the best part is how they hid the 'Decline' button in the more info button."

After an initial notification some days in advance, users are given another alert 60 minutes before the scheduled upgrade time and, if they do not manually reschedule or cancel, the upgrade will begin. 

A company blog post published last year stated: "Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update (WU) by changing the WU settings."

Back in February, Microsoft decided to switch the Windows 10 update from optional to recommended for security reasons, after which users were informed that updates would be applied automatically. They were, however, also assured that they would be asked for permission.

17/03/2016: Windows 10 Mobile could be rolling out for selected devices today, according to reports.

Prolific leakster Evan Blass, writing for VentureBeat, claimed that 17 March has been pegged as the date for the first wave of updates for legacy Lumia devices.

Sources associated with the rollout apparently said that the initial batch of updates would be delivered on a 'pull' rather that 'push' basis.

This means that users will need to manually update their devices, rather than Microsoft pushing the updates out through notifications.

Microsoft is widely expected to update its device portfolio in stages, presumably starting with its most popular phones first.

These reports have apparently been confirmed by T-Mobile Croatia, according to NokiaMob (translated), which has also published a list of the Lumia models that will be first in line to make the jump to Windows 10 Mobile.

This chimes closely with a list that Microsoft itself published - the only outliers are that T-Mobile claims the Lumia 1520 flagship will receive the update while Microsoft has made no mention of this device.

Aside from this, both lists include the Lumia 435, 535, 635 (1GB RAM model), 640, 640XL, 735, 830 and 930. Microsoft also states that the Lumia 430, 532 and 540 will be included in the initial upgrade run.

15/03/2016: Microsoft has been forced to deny that Windows 10 is installing on users' computers without permission.

Users have taken to social media to complain that the OS upgrade has been forced on them. One Reddit thread has had over 3,000 comments about the update.

In a statement, Microsoft said: “as we shared in late October on the Windows Blog, we are committed to making it easy for our Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 customers to upgrade to Windows 10. As stated in that post, we have updated the upgrade experience to make it easier for customers to schedule a time for their upgrade to take place.

"Customers continue to be fully in control of their devices, and can choose to not install the Windows 10 upgrade or remove the upgrade from Windows Update by changing the Windows Update settings.”

It added that reports that Windows 10 was being forced on users were "not accurate".

10/03/2016: While the main release of Windows 10 Redstone may not be coming until June, Windows Insiders may be about to get a look at one of its key features - extension support for Edge.

Windows 10 build 14284 will be the first Redstone release for Insiders and will include support for Edge extension support, according to WinBeta. The website claims the release is just days or weeks away, according to its sources, and will land ahead of the company's Build conference, which starts on 30 March.

08/03/2016: Microsoft has pushed back a planned Windows 10 upgrade that was due later this year, apparently to ensure a new swathe of devices run it out-of-the-box.

The Redstone 2 update was set for release in November, but now will not come out until spring 2017, Winbeta revealed last week.

While Windows 10 is the last operating system Microsoft says it will produce, it does bundle new features together in regular updates throughout the year.

Redstone 1 is due to land in June and succeeds the last major update, 'Threshold 2', which rolled out in November last year.

ZDNet’s Mary Jo Foley followed up this week to say that anonymous sources told her the delay is to ensure a new wave of Windows 10 devices run the latest version of the operating system.

01/03/2016: Windows 10 adoption continued to grow in February, running on 14.86 per cent of desktop PCs by the end of the month.

However, that is only 1.21 per cent higher than its usage in January, after growing by just 1.78 per cent between December and January, according to figures recorded by StatCounter.

Windows 7 remains the dominant desktop operating system, the research site revealed, with its adoption declining by less than one per cent from January to stand at 46 per cent last month.

Other declining Microsoft OSes include Windows 8.1, whose share of desktops fell to just 11.43 per cent in February, while XP, support for which expired in April 2014, dropped to 7.61 per cent of the market.

Microsoft claims Windows 10 now runs on more than 200 million devices though HP Inc CEO Dion Weisler blamed the OS for the vendor's falling PC sales in the three months to December 2015. 

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