Windows 10 release date, news, features and HoloLens (VI)

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Windows 10 release date, news, features and HoloLens

6 May 2015

The latest news, features and release date of Windows 10 and HoloLens price

Windows 10 is edging ever closer to release and following we’ve been given a further sneak peek on what to expect from the new operating system as well as seeing HoloLens in action. The holographic goggles showed off new features, which you can find out about below, and we look at how much they’re likely to cost.

Windows 10: at a glance:

– Technical Preview build 10061 is available to right now

– Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones is now available

– It’s rumored Windows 10

– Windows 10 is a free upgrade in the first year for all Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1 users

– include Cortana, Microsoft Edge web browser, universal app support, Xbox Live integration, and DirectX 12. Tablets and HoloLens benefit from Continuum and Windows Holographic features

Windows 10 is coming this summer and Microsoft has steadily been revealing details about what its upcoming OS will contain. Here you can find out about the confirmed new features, how to download the latest Technical Preview, and all the news surrounding Windows 10’s price and release date.

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Windows 10: What to expect from Microsoft Build

While Windows 10 development trundles on, it’s clear Microsoft has been holding back blazing new features for unveiling at its taking place shortly, but what can we expect from Microsoft’s show?

Looking through the conference schedule there aren’t any big surprises. Sessions focus on Azure for solutions, developing apps for and Microsoft Health, as well as Project Spartan development amongst a whole host of other topics. As this is a developer conference, don’t expect much in the way of big reveals.

If its surprises you’re looking for, Microsoft’s keynote presentation today is the most likely place to find them. Talk will revolve around Windows 10, hopefully announcing a release window tighter than summer 2015, as well as more information about Project Spartan and upcoming features for Technical Preview users.

Going from the event invite PC Pro received, Microsoft is planning on revealing more about , presumably development features of Windows Holographic instead of new features it contains. We could also hear more about the , although it’s unlikely Microsoft would launch or announce a new hardware product at a developer conference, its position as a flagship Windows 10 device could be reason enough for Microsoft to put it on show.

All will be revealed at 4:30 BST, until then, take a look at our best of Build Twitter collection

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Windows 10: latest news

Windows 10 build 9879 and earlier won’t boot from 30 April

(27/04/2015):: If you’re running Windows 10 as your main OS, it’s time to make sure you’ve updated it to the latest version as, in just three days’ time, Microsoft will stop supporting them.

reports that a Microsoft support engineer recently posted a list of Windows 10 builds along with the dates they will stop working. According to the engineer, builds 9841, 9860 and 9879 will all stop booting from 30 April. If you’re using 9926, 10041 or 10049, everything will be fine until 15 October, by which point Windows 10 should be available anyway.

The engineer states that warnings will begin to appear around two weeks before your licence expires. From there it will begin to restart automatically every three hours. After the final upgrade deadline has passed, your computer won’t boot and you’ll need to download the latest ISO from another computer.

If you’re worried your version of Windows 10 is about to expire, you can for build 10041.

Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10061 releases to Fast Ring users

(23/04/2015): Having committed to providing one new Technical Preview update a month, Microsoft has dropped the latest build of Windows 10 a week early. According to , build 10061 is available only to Fast Ring users currently and includes a number of new fixes and features.

The most notable change comes with the Start menu, taskbar and Action Center, allowing for more customization than before. You can now resize the Start menu, Auto Color has been added and you can change the color and transparency of the Start menu, taskbar and Action Center if you like.

Users will also receive new Mail and Calendar apps, allowing for customizable swipe gestures in Mail, along with support for Office 365, Exchange, Outlook.com, Gmail and other account types.

Alongside these additions, there are also improvements to Continuum, Task View and Virtual Desktops. You can read the full list of additions, along with bug fixes and known issues, over on the .

Windows 10 for Phones update coming this week

(09/04/2015): : Microsoft will release the latest technical preview of on Friday 10 April, according to Windows Insider Program chief Gabe Aul. Aul first made the announcement on , and followed it up with a tweet stating the new build will be available for registered Windows Insiders to download at 10am PST (6pm BST) tomorrow.

In case anyone missed the announcement on Windows Weekly: We’re targeting Friday @ 10:00AM PST for next phone build.

— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul)

Windows 10 for phones will also now be available on a wider range of phones, a full list of which is . If you’re a Windows Phone owner and want to get on the Insider Program, it’s not too late to register. You can read our full step-by-step guide to registering and installation .

Microsoft backtracks on “free to pirates” Windows 10 offer

(23/03/2015): : Just when it looked like Microsoft was getting ready to bring those who had been using pirated versions of Windows back into the fold with Windows 10, the company has done an abrupt, if rather half-baked, flip-flop.

Last week, Terry Meyerson, who heads up Microsoft’s Windows division, : “We are upgrading all qualified PCs, genuine and non-genuine, to Windows 10.” He explained that this would help Microsoft “re-engage” with the hundreds of millions of potential customers in China in particular, who are currently running “non-genuine” (i.e. pirated) versions of Windows. went on to confirm that the offer wasn’t open only to pirates in China, but around the world.

Over the weekend, however, it began to appear that Microsoft, or at least part of Microsoft, had undergone a change of heart. Not wishing to contradict itself completely, the company issued ZDNet this fantastic piece of legalese fudging:

“With Windows 10, although non-Genuine PCs may be able to upgrade to Windows 10, the upgrade will not change the genuine state of the license. Non-Genuine Windows is not published by Microsoft. It is not properly licensed, or supported by Microsoft or a trusted partner. If a device was considered non-genuine or mis-licensed prior to the upgrade, that device will continue to be considered non-genuine or mis-licensed after the upgrade.”

was also sent the same statement and, when it tried to clarify “the material implications of having a ‘non-genuine’ free upgrade to Windows 10” was stonewalled.

Windows 10 release date

Microsoft has confirmed a summer 2015 launch for Windows 10 in the UK and 189 other countries. No exact date has been given, although rumors suggest OEMs will have Windows 10 by June, with devices available for the “back-to-school” rush.

AMD’s president and CEO Lisa Su inadvertently confirmed Microsoft’s target summer release date, stating there will be a “windows 10 launch at the end of July”

This does raise questions around the possibility of a Consumer Preview build being unveiled ahead of launch.

Microsoft has also revealed its plans for upgrading Windows 7 and 8.1 users. Issuing a patch to its older OSs, Microsoft will let users know they need a fully updated Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 machine to receive the free upgrade once available.

If rumors are to be believed, there could be two versions of Windows 10 released to consumers this year. Amid rumors about next year’s , Mary J Foley at ZDNet that Windows 10 will be released in two waves.

The first release will arrive in June, as confirmed by Microsoft in its announcement to OEMs, and a second release will come in the autumn. The autumn update, which could come in October, will be significant, but not groundbreaking, and will be preceded by several smaller updates in the interim. This would fit with Microsoft’s stated plan to speed up its update timetable and break with its history of releasing totally new versions of the Windows OS every few years. There has been no confirmation from Microsoft on this matter, however.

Regardless of those rumored plans, Microsoft has announced it will be releasing one new Technical Preview update a month ahead of final release.

Windows 10 Technical Preview for phones is too.

Writing on , engineering general manager Gabe Aul explained why updates have been rolling out so slowly.

“We’ve probably been too conservative about pushing builds to the Fast ring for Windows Insiders,” admitted Aul. “The reality is that faster builds to you will include more bugs, and so far we’ve erred on the side of stability.”

“We’ve not had as much distinction between Fast and Slow,” explained Aul. “In our internal rings, our Canary ring probably sees 2X-3X as many builds as OSG because we catch problems in Canary and don’t push to OSG.”

Thankfully Microsoft is speeding up this process for “Fast” lane Insiders.

Windows 10 price

Good news for everyone running Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows 8.1: Windows 10 will be available as a free upgrade upon launch, providing you make the shift within 12 months.

Windows Phone 8.1 users will also be able to upgrade to Windows 10 free for a year after launch, and yes, that is the full version of Windows 10.

Microsoft is bringing a unified approach to its operating systems from now on, meaning the same OS will work across desktops, laptops, tablets, hybrids, phones, phablets and, eventually, Xbox, adjusting automatically for each device’s screen size and automatically detecting whether a keyboard and mouse are present.

What’s uncertain, however, is how Windows pricing will work in the future, and Microsoft has been very vague on this matter.

While clearly those moving either from older versions of Windows or from totally different operating systems will have to pay for a licence, it’s unclear if all further Windows updates will be free to existing customers, or if they’ll have to pay a subscription fee. All should be revealed at the official launch.

Rumours around a subscription-based model have certainly picked up thanks to a trademark filing from Microsoft. Spotted by Neowin, the trademark was submitted to the US Patent and Trademark office on 29 January this year. It covers a whole range of features, including streaming and video-on-demand services, email and IM, and educational services.

The most intriguing features listed are “operating software as a service (OSAAS)… desktop-as-a-service (DAAS), cloud services… [and] providing temporary use of non-downloadable software”.

It’s unlikely that such a pricing model will be put in place by Windows 10’s launch, but this could be Microsoft preparing for the future. Although, .

Turn the page for details of the most important Windows 10 features

21 January event

Microsoft revealed new details on what to expect from Windows 10 once it’s released, and into the future. Catch up with the full presentation in the video below, although a note of caution: it is over two hours long.

If you don’t fancy sitting through the whole thing, use the “jump to” links above to skip to our summaries and analysis of the juiciest bits.

Windows 10’s most important features (so far)

Windows 10: Windows Holographic and HoloLens

The biggest surprise from Microsoft’s 21 January event was Windows Holographic. The software, which is built into Windows 10, allows developers to create virtual 3D environments that can be displayed to the user via an augmented-reality headset, dubbed HoloLens.

Microsoft gave potential use cases of space scientists exploring a virtual Martian landscape, totally immersive gaming, or architects and interior designers planning and visualizing construction and decor.

At Microsoft Build further everyday applications for HoloLens were on display. Use within the medical profession was exhibited as a professor and student showed how they are able to ‘dissect’ and learn about human anatomy without the need for cadavers or text books. Teachers can see what the students are seeing and even answer questions remotely.

The integration of HoloLens with the Internet of Things and real world processes was shown through an API that can overlay holograms onto real life things. The example on display was a virtual robot that hovered above a physical machine with wearers bringing up an HUD to direct the robot. The manufacturing industry instantly comes to mind here but there possibilities could be vast.

In an additional twist, a related piece of software, HoloStudio, will let users create a 3D holographic model and then use a 3D printer to create it in real life.

Microsoft managed to shed some light on how HoloLens works with Windows 10 during its Build keynote with the demonstration showing apps floating in front of the user. Skype, a media player, a weather app and browser were on show with the users being able to drag and resize using Air Tap. The apps can also follow users around so you don’t have to be restricted to one place. One app that has our interests piqued is an Xbox Live app, it wasn’t mentioned in the keynote but we did spot a brief glimpse in a short video (below). With the universal platform there may be good (and imersive) things to come for gamers.

So the big elephant in the room yet to be addressed is price. We can’t imagine a piece of hardware like this going cheap and experts are struggling to estimate its price tag. The best clue to offer any indication is from an insider at Microsoft who, in an interview with the New York Times, said it would cost “significantly more than a video game console”. So, that’s more than the £300-£350 it costs for an Xbox One or PS4, but it’s still a very vague answer. If you want to get HoloLens when it arrives we’d recommend saving those pennies as we think it is more likely to be upwards of £500 at least.

Windows 10: Cortana

Microsoft’s virtual personal assistant, Cortana, has been fully integrated into Windows 10 and has far more functionality than she’s ever had in Windows Phone.

According to Joe Belfiore, corporate VP of the Operating Systems Group in Microsoft, Cortana is able to learn about users over time, bringing together everything she knows about them to deliver reminders and suggestions in the Calendar, taskbar and new Spartan browser.

As she’s constantly connected to and trawling the internet, she can deliver additional information on web pages when the user’s browsing with the new Spartan browser. Belfiore gave the example of a restaurant, where Cortana automatically delivered information on the venue’s menu, opening hours and directions from his location.

How useful (or annoying) this will be remains to be seen. We weren’t the only ones to feel shades of Clippy in the sassy AI’s attitude and functionality.

Previously only available to US Technical Preview users, , Cortana is now available in the UK through Technical Preview build 10041.

Windows 10: Spartan Browser

Microsoft has officially revealed its new internet browser will be called Edge, giving the Project Spartan nickname a firm kick into a well.

The Build conference showed off the minimalist design, dropping a few more tricks such as its new tab features and reading mode, which will let you save webpages for later so you can read across all devices, even offline.

We’ve known since last January’s event that Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, will be built-into the system but it was further demoed at the keynote. You will be able to search via voice commands, like in Google, and it’ll offer up relevant information and suggestions for what you’re searching, erm, like on Google.

According to Microsoft people open up new tabs over a million times a day so no wonder there’s a new tab feature to capitalize on this. Opening up a new tab will present websites and information relevant to users. We saw top sites, featured apps, sports results, news stories and selected videos for quick access.

Available to “Fast Ring” Windows Insiders since Technical Preview build 10049 was released, Spartan hasn’t yet replaced Internet Explorer from Windows 10 Technical Preview builds. Spartan is also currently only available for Windows 10 users on PC, with support for tablets and mobiles coming in due course,

Those running Windows 10 Technical Preview build 10041, as many “Slow Ring” Insiders will be, can still enjoy some of Project Spartan’s features since Internet Explorer has the EdgeHTML engine running under the hood. To activate it, you need to toggle it in the “about:flags” page.

Spartan boasts many features over its predecessor, in functionality as well as performance. Spartan’s Reading Mode works in a similar way to Pocket, allowing users to save a page and read it later offline on any device using Spartan.

A second feature of Spartan is web-page annotation via a mouse, stylus or typing. These scribbles sync to OneDrive, allowing users to share pages or make them collaborative. If you can’t picture how this will work, think of what Samsung’s Galaxy Note phablets have done for the past few years.

Recent benchmarking of the Spartan browser’s EdgeHTML engine in build 10049 shows that Spartan is no slouch, but it’s not quite ready for mass adoption. In most counts, Internet Explorer outperforms it, but Microsoft has certainly optimized its performance in regards to JavaScript.

Spartan can also load the IE11 engine when needed, dissolving compatibility issues with older sites. In a sense this means that IE is still around, but really only as a part of Spartan used to keep the web browsing experience in check.

All in all, Spartan is a step in the right direction for Windows 10. Whether it will topple Chrome is yet to be seen.

Windows 10: Xbox App and DirectX 12

Windows 10 does away with the lackluster Games for Windows Live service and instead turns its attention to Microsoft’s strong games division with the creation of an Xbox App.

Coming preinstalled on Windows 10 PCs and mobile devices, its aim is to be your one-stop shop for everything relating to games. Here you’ll be able to boot up all your games and even stream gameplay from your Xbox One to your PC or tablet running Windows 10.

The move has been headed up by Xbox boss Phil Spencer, and almost all app decisions have come from player feedback. Now, at the touch of a button, gameplay can be shared online or saved for editing, continually recording in 15-minute bursts so you never miss a shot. This can be saved to the Xbox Live feed, or sent up to OneDrive and accessed on any device.

Windows 10 also fully supports Steam, a big draw for many PC gamers who were perturbed by Valve’s stance on Windows 8.1. All Steam games will also work with the new features that Xbox App brings to Windows 10, so nothing suffers by opting for Steam over Microsoft’s own games store.

During Spencer’s segment at the 21 January event we saw cross-play functionality between Xbox One and Windows 10 users. This means that games released on Xbox One and Windows 10 are completely native, requiring no special access for online multiplayer between the two. It’s also a hint at the future of Xbox One game development.

We can also expect to see Xbox-style achievements seeping into Windows 10 as a whole. The feature, which was uncovered by , encourages users to explore Windows 10 in a way they might not otherwise, such as trying out all features, or using them more. It’s not specific to games, but instead is integrated into the entirety of Windows 10.

Windows 10: Universal app platform

Instead of having a separate recovery image, which takes up disk space, Windows 10 will use runtime system files to rebuild the OS when the Refresh And Reset function is used.

Aside from changes to the way system recovery is carried out, Windows 10 will also compress system files. While, as Neowinpoints out, this isn’t exactly innovative, given that Windows system files have been compressed since XP, Microsoft claims to have created a new, more efficient compression algorithm that can give back about 1.5GB storage to the 32-bit version of Windows 10 and 2.6GB to the 64-bit version.