Windows 1.0 to 10: The changing face of Microsoft’s landmark OS

July 29, 2015

Codenamed Threshold and extensively previewed since its unveiling in September 2014, Windows 10 reaches the general availability milestone on 29 July 2015. Widely seen as the Windows release to ‘fix’ Windows 8.x, whose confused Modern/Desktop UI was not well received, Windows 10 includes an expandable Start menu with Live Tiles, which is presented full-screen by default on touch-enabled devices. More generally, Windows 10 is designed to be a unifying release in which ‘universal’ apps, with appropriate UI behaviours, run on a wide range of platforms: embedded systems, smartphones, tablets, hybrid tablet/laptops, laptops, desktops and games consoles, as well as new hardware categories such as large-screen collaboration/presentation systems (Surface Hub) and AR/VR headsets (HoloLens).

New features include FIDO-based multi-factor authentication and improved support for biometric technologies (Windows Hello), a new default web browser (Microsoft Edge), the Cortana virtual personal assistant (previously introduced with Windows Phone 8.1) and DirectX 12/WDDM 2.0 for improved graphics and gaming functionality.

Windows 10 will be available in seven editions in total: Home, Mobile, Pro, Enterprise, Education, Mobile Enterprise and IoT Core. Users of ‘qualifying’ Windows 7, 8.1 and Phone 8.1 devices will be able to upgrade to the appropriate Windows 10 versions for free within a year of the launch, and will receive updates and security patches as they are released, in a scheme Microsoft calls ‘Windows as a service’.

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