Windows 10: Release date, specs & pricing

News 2 Oct, 2014

Windows 10 release (as a technical preview) has now arrived. We take a look at what Microsoft has in store for its OS users

The Windows 10 Technical Preview is now available to download for laptop and desktop users, having been unveiled at a Microsoft launch event in San Francisco on Tuesday 30 September.

A server-based version of the software will follow shortly after, with Microsoft announcing the finished product should arrive sometime next year. 

Download the Technical Preview

To obtain a copy of the Windows 10 Technical Preview, users need to firstly sign up for the Windows Insider programme using a Microsoft ID or Outlook email address.

Microsoft says the programme is designed to make it easier for it to push out updates to people using the Windows 10 Technical Preview, and for them to share their feedback about what works and what doesn't on the release in online forums and directly to Microsoft. 

In terms of system requirements, Microsoft claims the preview should work on any system that comfortably runs Windows 8.1, but warns users they might need to re-install or update some of their existing software after installing it.

The download page warns users the release is by no means the finished article, and that only those with a bit of tech know-how should consider downloading the preview.

"We're not kidding about the expert thing. So if you think BIOS is a new plant-based fuel, Tech Preview may not be right for you," the Technical Preview system requirements page states.

Furthermore, it also warns users off installing the preview onto their everyday computers, and advises participants using Windows 7 or Vista-based PCs to create recovery media from a recovery partition on their devices PC before upgrading, as this will make it easier for them to revert back, should they need to.

For Windows 8/8.1 users, the company is advising them to create a recovery USB drive, pre-update.  

"Keep in mind that no matter which operating system you’re upgrading from, you should play it safe and back up everything," an advisory notice warns. 

Once that's sorted, users are then clear to click "Get Upgrade" within the Insider Programme portal and install the Technical Preview.

Windows 10 launch event

The Windows 10 launch event was presided over by Windows chief Terry Myerson, 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.

During his time on stage, Belfiore suggested Windows 10 was very much a work in progess, hinting that the April 2015 release date mooted by some may be a little optimistic. 

Further doubt was cast on a possible, rumoured April 2015 release date during a Q&A at the event, when attendees were told Windows 10 won't be shipping until "later" in 2015.

The company also confirmed that Windows 10 will support all of the apps currently offered via the Windows Store.

IT Pro Windows 10 live blog

IT Pro will be bringing you all the news from the event as it happens (you can find our live blog here), including confirmation of specs and pricing.

Expectations for the next-generation operating system are high, as Microsoft looks to win back PC users put off by Windows 8 (and Windows 8.1) and entice more Windows XP users to ditch the aged operating system for good.

A preliminary page hosting what appears to be download links to both the 3.16GB and the 4.10GB versions of the operating system appeared ahead of the launch event, according to Beta News, confirming its file size. 

Forrester analyst David Johnson said there is a lot riding on Windows 10 for the enterprise, and Microsoft will be keen to do all it can to ensure it has mass appeal to users in that space.

"Only about 1 in 5 organisations is offering Windows 8 PCs to employees right now, and with Windows 7 extended support running until January 2020, Microsoft needs to give enterprises reasons to move to a new version before it becomes a crisis, like it did for so many firms running Windows XP last year,” he said.

Meawhile, Johnson's Forrester colleague Frank Gillett, said Microsoft will need to showcase how much better Windows 10 is than Windows 8 to ensure it is a success.

“It must show that it will be much easier to upgrade and update Windows, that the new OS will be easier to learn and use for traditional PC users than Windows 8 is, and that they've preserved mobile capabilities for tablets and phones," he said.

"It's a very tall order for Microsoft, but they have to reinvigorate Windows in order to remain relevant in the mobile first/cloud first world that it is aiming for.”
Over the page is a list of features heavily rumoured to be making an appearance in Windows 10, ahead of today's launch event. Have a look through to see which ones, if any, were correct.