Windows 10 will be free for those who upgrade from Windows 7, 8.1 or Windows Phone 8.1 devices during the first year after launch, Microsoft has confirmed.
Once a device has been upgraded to Windows 10 in that first year, Microsoft promises to keep it up to date for the supported lifetime of the device - at no additional charge.
To qualify, the user must sign up online, their device must be connected to the internet and have Windows Update enabled (with Windows 7 SP1 and Windows 8.1 Update required). Windows 7 Enterprise, Windows 8/8.1 Enterprise, and Windows RT/RT 8.1 are excluded from the offer, while Active Software Assurance customers in volume licensing have the benefit to upgrade to Windows 10 Enterprise outside of the offer.
The news comes as Microsoft reveals more details of its long awaited Windows 10 OS today, including cross platform capabilities, Xbox gaming on PC and a brand new web browser, as well as its new wearable tech and Surface Hub display (see links throughout this article).
The OS will work seamlessly across all platforms, from mobile, tablet and Xbox, to desktop, laptop and even interactive white boards.
Here are some of the highlights from Windows 10:
- Cortana (Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri and the AI character from its Halo series of video games) will now feature on all devices, learning about the user enabling it to deliver personalised information, import reminders, interact and even surf the internet with them.
- As the OS works cross-platform, apps such as Outlook, Office, photo album, music, maps and other regularly used bits of software need to mirror each other whether it be on PC or mobile device.
- Users can use apps such as mail on their PCs, just the same as they would on a smartphone, and vise versa with programs such as Word, or Excel.
One of the main highlights from Windows 10 is the new built-in web browser, currently codenamed ‘Project Spartan’.
Users can annotate directly onto a page with a keyboard or directly onto the screen with a pen and share their notes with friends. It also saves pages and articles for viewing offline.
Cortana can interact with pages, digging out relevant information for the user, and simplifying the web browsing experience.
Xbox One and the new Xbox app also allows gamers to access all the content on their console via a PC. So if their TV is taken, they can stream and play their game on another PC monitor.
This is helped with the development of DirectX 12, which is currently used by the likes of Unreal Engine 4 and Unity. DirectX 12 improves speed, efficiency and graphics capability, no matter if a gamer is playing on their console or PC.
The tech company said in a blog post: “We think of Windows as a Service – in fact, one could reasonably think of Windows in the next couple of years as one of the largest internet services on the planet.
"With Windows 10, the experience will evolve and get even better over time. We’ll deliver new features when they’re ready, not waiting for the next major release.
"And just like any internet service, the idea of asking “What version are you on?” will cease to make sense – which is great news for our Windows developers.
"For our enterprise customers, we’ll continue to support the way many of them work today, with long-term servicing for their mission critical environments. You can learn more about our commitment to enterprises here, with much more to come in the following months."
In its attempt to deliver in Windows 10, what its users were calling out for, Microsoft put together the Windows Insider program, which was joined by 1.7 million people. During the program, 800,000 snippets of feedback have been sent to Microsoft.
The latest build of Windows 10 will be available next week for the Windows Insiders running the Windows 10 Technical Preview on PCs, and it will be available in 25 more languages.
The mobile OS technical preview will be available in February.