Microsoft has announced that the final build of Windows 10 will be available worldwide starting the 29th of July. The operating system will cost $110 for the home edition and $199 for the Pro edition. This will however be applicable only to new users, as pre existing users of Windows 7 & 8 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free.
New features coming with this build include Cortana, Microsoft’s digital assistant, the company’s new browser Microsoft Edge and Office applications including Word, Excel and PowerPoint bundled with the OS. Other features include support for seamless conversion of laptops to tablets, biometric authentication support for iris or finger recognition and updated apps for photos, videos, music, maps and calendar etc. Additionally, Microsoft mentions all future updates to Windows 10 will be free.
Interestingly, Microsoft had mentioned last month that Windows 10 would be the last version of Windows. The company will look to instead offer ‘Windows as a service’, and continue updating Windows 10 for the foreseeable future. It seems likely the company will offer the OS for free after the initial cost and adopt a business model similar to that of iOS and Android.
Some of the other interesting new features the new OS will bring include users being able to play Xbox games on their desktop with the new Xbox app, streaming of Xbox games to PC, tablet and phones over local network and a unified apps platform that will enable developers to develop one app that works on all devices running Windows 10. Developers will also get full access to the Xbox live API for desktops, to help transition console elements to desktops.
Our take: Microsoft’s idea here seems to be clear. Make Windows release cycles and updates more like Android and iOS. Rather than incrementally upgrade the system with a new version after the other, MS now wants to release updates as and when they are made to avoid fragmentation, and more importantly, to promote Windows as a single platform that works seamlessly across various devices including IoT devices like Raspberry Pi, it’s Xbox consoles, desktops, laptops, phones and tablets.
With this release Microsoft is making headway into creating its own ecosystem, encroaching on Google and Apple territory. The company has been trying to do it for years with Windows phones, but we expect this approach will do it better. As Microsoft leads in the PC market with Windows almost being a requirement for desktop gaming, it should be relatively easier for the company to sell its OS on other devices if it can work seamlessly with other devices. Like Xbox games being playable on desktops, and games from both platforms being streamable (and playable) on phones/tablets etc.