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No Longer Unofficial: Microsoft To Release Windows 10 on July 29

It will be free for users of Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 for the first year.

It's been unoffically hinted at before. Now, it's been moved to the "official" category, as of yesterday.

Microsoft has confirmed that Windows 10 will be available on July 29. The company used the eve of the annual Computex conference in Taipei to make the announcement. It's not a surprise Microsoft chose Computex to make it official given that the event is the largest gathering of OEM systems (PC and device) manufacturers.

Millions of Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users will be eligible for a free upgrade on that date, as Microsoft announced in January. Microsoft is letting eligible customers reserve the free upgrades starting today. A Windows 10 icon will appear to the right of the taskbar on eligible devices, allowing users to click on it at any time to initiate their reservation. Microsoft posted instructions on how the process works.

By releasing it in late July, Microsoft is making sure Windows 10 is available for the back-to-school season, which begins in earnest in August. When Microsoft said the OS will ship this summer, many wondered if that meant mid-September to target the fourth quarter holiday buying season. While indeed that's important, making Windows 10 available to students is equally --  if not more -- important.

"With Windows 10, we start delivering on our vision of more personal computing, defined by trust in how we protect and respect your personal information, mobility of the experience across your devices, and natural interactions with your Windows devices, including speech, touch, ink, and holograms," wrote Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive VP for operating systems, on Microsoft's Windows blog. "We designed Windows 10 to run our broadest device family ever, including Windows PCs, Windows tablets, Windows phones, Windows for the Internet of Things, Microsoft Surface Hub, Xbox One and Microsoft HoloLens—all working together to empower you to do great things."

Following an eight month technical preview, we also now know what features Microsoft will include in Windows 10 and which will get scrapped. Myerson emphasized the following components will in fact come in Windows 10:

  • Cortana: Microsoft's digital assistant will run on all versions of Windows and other platforms, although languages and device types initially will have limitations
  • Microsoft Edge: the company's new modern browser which Myerson said offers "built-in commenting on the Web -- via typing or inking -- sharing comments, and a reading view that makes reading web sites much faster and easier" Myerson  noted.
  • New Apps: Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People, Mail and Calendar. All are designed to conform to device form factors and enabled to synch with OneDrive.
  • Windows Continuum: The ability for convertible tablet-PCs to easily switch modes from one to the other.
  • Windows Hello: The new logon technology that will enable devices to have FIDO-compatible biometrics as an alternative to password-based authentication.
  • Windows Store: Revamped and unified to support Microsoft's new Universal Windows Platform applications.
  • Windows 10 Home: Updates from Windows Update will automatically be available.
  • Windows 10 Pro and Windows 10 Enterprise: Users will have the ability to defer updates.

Those upgrading from earlier versions of Windows will have to prepare to download apps that were once included in the operating system, according to a Microsoft release note.  Here are some other noteworthy changes:

  • Viewing DVDs will require playback software.
  • Windows 7 desktop gadgets removed.
  • Solitaire, Minesweeper, and Hearts Games preinstalled on Windows 7 removed and replaced by new version of Solitaire and Minesweeper, now called the Microsoft Solitaire Collection and Microsoft Minesweeper.
  • USB-based floppy drives will require download of manufacturer drivers.
  • Windows Live Essentials with OneDrive application removed and replaced with the inbox version of OneDrive.

In the release note, Microsoft also outlined system requirements, which include 1 GHz or faster processor or system-on-chip (SoC), 1 GB of RAM for 32-bit systems and 2 GB for 64 GB systems, 20 GHz storage, DirectX 9 or later with WDDM 1.0 driver and support for at least 1024x600 resolution.

About the Author

Jeffrey Schwartz is editor of Redmond magazine and also covers cloud computing for Virtualization Review's Cloud Report. In addition, he writes the Channeling the Cloud column for Redmond Channel Partner. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreySchwartz.

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