Microsoft’s Windows operating system has been an important part of the lives of the majority of PC users over the past decade. Before there was even a Mac OS, there was a Windows. And to this date, Windows is still largely leading the market when it comes to operating systems. In fact, it’s not even as much of a competition as you might think. As of October 2014, Windows owned a whopping 91.53% of the worldwide OS market share, while “cool guy” Mac held just 7.05% (and Linux had 1.41%).
It looks as though the majority of users are using Windows 7, with 53.05% of Windows users using the software. Windows 8.1 is the latest version of Windows, and Microsoft is skipping a Windows 9 to go straight to a Windows 10 (wouldn’t it be better to completely re-brand and go with calling it Windows X)? So if you’re wondering “is there a windows 10,” yes there is. Either way, Windows 10 is on the way, but what exactly is Windows 10?
Last week, Microsoft brought us a closer look at what Windows 10 will be like, and it’s very different than anything we’ve seen from the technology giant yet. Somehow, though, the company is claiming that Windows 10 will make things more familiar, since the majority of Windows 8 users were largely dissatisfied with how different Windows 8 felt (oddly enough, I wasn’t one of them — I love Window 8/8.1). While Windows 10 is still a work in progress, Microsoft has already released the second major Windows 10 preview.
Windows 10 will sort of blend the tiles we saw in Windows 8 with the start menu we had in Windows 7, and it looks pretty great. Best of all, users will be able to turn off the tiles in Windows 10 if they find them to be annoying or frivolous. Windows 10 will also have other design tweaks, but for now it is just testing the waters with ideas. Apparently, the company isn’t quite sure what direction it is going to go in, as we’re seeing sort of a blend of swipe/tablet design with back buttons incorporated. But there are some confirmed ideas coming to the next iteration of Windows, like the incorporation of an Xbox App into Windows and Windows 10 being added to Xbox One so that users will be able to play with each other seamlessly, across both platforms (PC and Xbox One). This will also add Game DVR capabilities, and will bring more than just a simple Xbox Smartglass experience to Windows 10.
During the Windows 10 event last week, we were also given a preview of some of the cool things coming to specific apps when the OS is released. One of the new features is the new Microsoft web browser, code-named Project Spartan, which will replace Internet Explorer. This new web browser will allow users to save entire articles for offline reading, and will also allow users to send snapshots of webpages with your own annotations to friends and colleagues. Another confirmed change is the replacing of the standard Windows calculator (calc.exe), which will be replaced with a modernized calculator of sorts.
One of the other notable added Windows 10 features will be Cortana, the sultry A.I. virtual assistant that will rival (and according to Microsoft, surpass) the abilities of Apple’s Siri. She’ll sit on the taskbar in the form of a search box (similar to the Google Now revamp Android users saw last year), and will dynamically change and adapt based on the number of apps open. You’ll be able to ask it questions and set reminders, and even ask Cortana to conduct searches for you at any time. I haven’t tested the feature out myself yet, but it sounds handy.
As far as price is concerned, anyone running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free if they do so within the first 12 months of its retail release. But as far as future pricing is concerned, Microsoft has not said how much the OS will cost.
Microsoft hasn’t set a firm Windows 10 release date just yet, but we’re told to expect the new OS at some point in the Fall of 2015. Windows XP, Windows 7 and both Windows 8 and 8.1 have all released in mid to late October, so it’s likely we’ll see Windows 10 release during the same period. For now, users can check out the preview build of Windows 10 for free, and be on the lookout for Gadget Review’s official Windows 10 review later this year.