10 Things to Know About Windows 10

On July 29, Microsoft will release its newest version of the Windows operating system: Windows 10. According to Microsoft, it will be available in 190 countries across the globe in 111 languages.

Here are 10 important things to know about Windows 10.

1. Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade to consumers using Windows 7 and Windows 8.1. This upgrade offer is for a full version of Windows 10. To take advantage of this offer, you must upgrade to Windows 10 (via a 3GB download) within one year of availability. Once upgraded, Microsoft has stated it will keep the operating system current for the supported lifetime of the device at no cost.

2. The free upgrade offer is for consumers, not big businesses. As PC World notes, some editions of Windows 7 and 8.1 are excluded from this offer: Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise and Windows RT/RT 8.1.

3. If consumers fail to upgrade within one year, upgrades will be available via paid boxed product and volume licensing upgrades, according to Supersite for Windows.

As TechRadar notes, if you are not eligible for Microsoft's upgrade program (those who upgrade after the first year free offer, those running a non-genuine Windows version or one older than Windows 7), Windows 10 Home will cost $119 and Windows 10 Pro will cost $199 per license. Windows 10 Home users who want to upgrade to Pro will have to pay an additional $99 for the Windows 10 Pro Pack.

4. The version of Windows 10 shipping July 29 will only be initially available for desktops, laptops and tablets. To see if the free upgrade is available for your device, click here. Microsoft has indicated that Windows 10 for other devices (e.g., smartphones, Xbox One) will be available later this year.

5. Clean installs are possible after upgrading. If users are interested in performing a clean install of Windows 10, they will be able to do so. As Microsoft notes, "Once you've upgraded to Windows 10 using the free upgrade offer, you will be able to reinstall, including a clean install, on the same device. You won't need to purchase Windows 10 or go back to your prior version of Windows and upgrade again. You'll also be able to create your own installation media like a USB drive or DVD, and use that to upgrade your device or reinstall after you've upgraded."

6. The Start menu is back. Microsoft listened to its users, who were unhappy to find Start absent from Windows 8, and is once again making the Start menu a central focus of the new operating system. It will be located in its usual lower left-hand corner of the desktop. As CNN Money notes, clicking Start will bring up three columns: On the left will be most-used apps, power, user settings, quick links and a button to see installed software. The middle and right columns will be made up of pinned apps and "Live Tiles," which are Windows apps that provide "live" information, such as weather, stock information and sports scores.

7. Windows 10 will incorporate Cortana. Cortana is a digital assistant (like Apple's Siri) that can control of many of the operating system's search features, according to PC World. Cortana already comes with Windows Phone 8.1. In Windows 10, Cortana will get her own place next to the Start button. She can be interacted with via text or natural voice queries.

Cortana is expected to be such an integral component of Windows 10 that Toshiba has announced it will give Cortana a dedicated keyboard button on all of its Windows 10-running laptops, according to Maximum PC. PC World reported that the key will sit next to the function key in the top left corner of the keyboard.

8. Microsoft introduces Continuum. Continuum is new technology designed to create a seamless transition between desktop mode and tablet/smartphone mode. As The Verge describes, "...it's designed to take advantage of new universal apps that run across Windows 10 on phones, PCs, tablets and the Xbox One. If you're running a mobile version of Excel on your phone, it will magically resize and transform into a keyboard- and mouse-friendly version for use on a bigger screen."

Such functionality may be particularly appealing to healthcare organizations that perform electronic charting.

9. Windows 10 will include Microsoft Edge, the replacement web browser for Internet Explorer. Edge was formerly known as "Project Spartan." Windows 10 will still include Internet Explorer (version 11).

Features of Windows Edge highlighted by Microsoft in a preview of the browser include faster address bar searches, the ability to "take notes, write, doodle, and highlight directly on webpages," and integration with Cortana.

10. Windows 10 will be Microsoft's final Windows release. Microsoft has indicated there will not be any future "major" versions of Windows. Rather, all updates will come via smaller, more frequent changes to the core of Windows 10, which should allow Microsoft to respond faster to security issues and its users' requests for more functionality.

This will essentially turn Windows into "Windows-as-a-Service." As Supersite for Windows notes, "The difference with Windows 10 is that this operating system version could possibly represent the very last major Windows release. Which brings us to versionless Windows. Whether you install Windows 10 when released, buy a new PC with Windows 10 pre-installed or decide to upgrade later on, it will always be Windows 10."

If you have questions or concerns about upgrading your organization to Windows 10, contact PriorityOne Group today.

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