Windows 10 is shaping up to be the upgrade that many users were hoping for from Windows 8. Not only does it more cleverly integrate the new touchscreen-centric features with the traditional desktop ones, but it also brings a whole host of new features.

Joining the virtual desktops and improved command line that we first got to try back in October 2014, Microsoft has now revealed the final release of Windows 10 will include the search and personal assistant Cortana (that was first introduced on Windows Phone), a new web browser called Spartan, a tablet mode, a new notifications centre and a powerful Xbox app that includes Xbox game streaming and built in game recording.

Although the final Windows 10 release date is still some way away, you can install the Windows 10 Technical Preview to try out many of the new features. In the latest release is Cortana, an improved Start Menu, a basic version of the Xbox app and the notifications centre.

Windows 10 download will be a free upgrade for existing users

  • Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users during the first year.
  • If you do not upgrade in the first year, you will be charged. There has been some confusion around pricing – but Microsoft is expected to charge a one-off license fee and NOT move to a subscription model.
  • Windows 10 will launch in late-2015. The Technical Preview will end on 15 April 2015.
  • Microsoft also debuted the 84in Microsoft Surface Hub and Windows Holographic. The latter will allow users to create 3D models via a custom-built HoloLens.
  • Microsoft confirmed Cortana and the Spartan web browser will be introduced across all Windows devices.
  • Microsoft’s share price dropped by 1.55 per cent after the launch.

The Windows 10 Consumer Preview made its debut at Microsoft’s launch event on Wednesday 21 January, where Redmond announced multiple hardware and software updates.

The company revealed that Windows 10 will be free for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users for the first year. During a Q&A after the presentation, executives declined to comment on the pricing structure after this time frame.

An 84in device – the Microsoft Surface Hub – was also revealed along with the rumoured “Spartan” web browser.

Windows-as-a-Service will allow developers to work across all Windows devices, as well as improving security.

In terms of appearance, the task bar appears streamlined on Windows 10, and the Start Menu can be made full screen with a touch. Settings has also reverted back to look like the traditional Control Panel of old.

The Charms Bar also has a new look, with users able to swipe from the right to find a notifications panel. Swiping down will close all apps – not just Metro.

When the keyboard is removed from a hybrid device, the user will be asked whether they want to enter tablet mode, after which apps switch to full screen.

Cortana – Microsoft’s “personal assistant” is coming to Windows PCs and will be accessible via a search panel in the task bar. As demonstrated at the launch event, the app has the ability to learn about the user. You then have the ability to edit this information with Cortana Notebook.

See what’s on the menu

The Start menu is back—and it’s more personal, more organized, and more fun than before.

You’ll find it right where you expect it. Select the Start Start menu icon button on the desktop, then make it yours. Pin go-to apps and content, like contacts from the People app. Arrange items into groups, move and resize tiles, even change the size of the Start menu itself.

Love it? Pin it

Pin apps to Start to show live updates on what’s happening in your world, like new email, your next appointment, or the weekend weather.

To pin an app, go to Start Start menu icon > All apps, press and hold (or right-click) the app, and then select Pin to Start. Looking for more apps? Explore the Windows Store.

After you’ve pinned an app, move it into a group. To create a group, move an app up or down until a group divider bar appears, and then release the tile. Move apps in or out of the group as your fancy takes you.

To give your new group a name, press and hold (or right-click) in an open space above it and select Name groups.

To make Start feel even more like home, make it yours with an account picture and your favorite colors.

Your PC and apps—right at your fingertips

The left side of Start features an all-new, yet familiar, design. Easily jump to different locations in Windows from Places. Below that, Most used puts the apps that you use everyday front and center. If you have a new app from the Store, it’ll appear under Recently added. For a list of all your apps and programs, select All apps.



Go full screen

If you have a touchscreen, or want to see everything on Start in one view, select the Resize button Image of the resize icon to make Start full screen. Select it again to go back to your previous size.

You have the power

The power button Power button icon is right at the top of Start. Want to sign out of your PC, switch accounts, or change your account picture? Just select your name in the upper-left corner of Start.

What Next?

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