It’s official. Windows 10 has now launched worldwide and many are already hailing it Microsoft’s best operating system (OS) yet. Seeing as this will be the last time the company unveils a big release like this – from now on Windows will be automatically upgraded for free – it’s something it has worked hard on to get right.
Some customers have been able to start trying out the new features and functionality in pre-release versions of Windows 10 since October. And over the last few months, as Microsoft has opened up the preview to more customers, some five millions users have signed up to try out the new OS and share their feedback.
For many consumers, Windows 10 is available as a free upgrade. All you need to do is have a device already running Windows 7 or 8 and you’ll be eligible to update your OS for free. From 29 July, new hardware from the likes of Dell, Asus and Toshiba will also run the new OS.
If you’re yet to make the upgrade, here are some top features in Windows 10 to look out for that may tempt you.
It’s available on pretty much any device
Windows 10 has been built to work on the broadest range of devices yet – think PCs, tablets, smartphones, but also internet of things devices, Surface Hubs and HoloLens.
This means that the separate mobile operating system, Windows Phone, exists no more. Instead, regardless of the device you’re using, you can expect the same seamless Windows 10 experience. This should make a big difference for users that like to use various devices to carry out different tasks throughout the day.
Cortana on your desktop
Those who already own a Windows Phone will be familiar with Cortana, Microsoft’s voice-controlled personal digital assistant. Now, it’s available on PCs and tablets too.
Integrated within Windows 10, Cortana learns more about you over time, so that it can make personal suggestions and recommendations (such as telling you the best route to your office), send you reminders about upcoming meetings and appointments, help you manage your daily schedule and much more. If you want, you can even dictate e-mails you want to send, and when you search from the taskbar, Cortana will show you results from your PC, the web and OneDrive.
A new browsing experience with Microsoft Edge
Microsoft Edge replaces the long serving Internet Explorer browser, which first made its debut in Windows 95.
Not only is Edge faster and designed to support modern web experiences, but it includes a number of new handy features too: integration with Cortana, and pen and note taking capabilities.
The Start menu is back
It was dropped in Windows 8, but now it’s back and it’s been given a refresh too.
The Windows 10 Start menu combines aspects of the classic Windows 7 start menu with the modern Live Tiles user interface that was introduced in Windows 8. On the left hand side, the menu is very similar to how it was in Windows 7, Vista and XP, but on the right hand side a new space has been added for users to customise with their favourite apps, programmes and websites that are displayed in the form of Live Tiles.
Say hello to a new way of signing in
Windows Hello is a new biometric authentication feature that allows you to sign in using your face, fingerprint or even your iris. It’s meant to be more secure than a password and, because it uses Microsoft’s asymmetric key cryptography, it’s pretty smart. This means you can use it in different lighting conditions, and it will still recognise you if you are wearing loads of make-up, or if you’ve grown facial hair, for example.
Understandably, Windows Hello is only available on certain devices as it requires specialised hardware, such as a fingerprint reader, illuminated infrared sensor or other biometric sensors. However, Microsoft has said more of its hardware partners will be bringing out such devices in the coming months.
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