Windows 10: Everything you need to know

Microsoft has launched its latest Windows operating system - described as ´changing the rules of the game´. Read on for the main features

21 Jan 2015

Microsoft has launched its latest Windows operating system - and they have announced they will offer a free upgrade to customers who have Windows 7, Windows 8 and Windows Phone for the first year from launch.

Windows 10 introduces a host of features designed to make it easy to use whether you are tapping a keyboard or swiping a screen. Features include:

  • The same operating system across PC, tablet and Smartphone
  • A design that automatically adjusts to suit a tablet or PC
  • Voice-assistant to dictate emails and make calendar appointments  
  • The return of the popular Start menu

Microsoft's Terry Myerson said: 'Windows 10 is so much more than the latest version of Windows. Windows 10 changes the rules of the game.'

Read on for details of the main features.


Download Windows 10 'for free'

Windows 10 Stage

(credit: AP)

For the first year after Windows 10 launches, Microsoft will offer a free upgrade to customers who already have Windows 7, Windows 8 or a Windows Phone.


Numerous devices, one Windows

Laptop, tablet, smartphone - how many devices do you have at home?  Microsoft says Windows 10 will run across various types of device: PCs, laptops, tablets, mobile phones and Xbox games console.

Previously you would have had Windows 8 for your laptop and Windows Phone for your smartphone. Now it will be the same operating system across both devices. 

Windows 10 will be tailored to suit different screen sizes - whether that's an 8-inch tablet or large-screened desktop PC. It's been designed to be mobile friendly, with a version designed specifically for tablets and Smartphones.


Apps that work on your tablet and your laptop

Windows 10 Tablet

Apps were available for Windows tablets and laptops with Windows 8 - but you often needed different versions of the same app for different devices. Now Windows 10 native apps will work across all your devices - just download it once and it'll be good to go on tablet or PC, smartphone or laptop. Apps for Videos, Music, Maps, People, Photos and Calendar will be the same across your devices. 


3 cool features with apps in Windows 10

  1. Apps run in a window: Apps will be much more desktop-friendly. They will run in a regular desktop window, and will have a menu bar at the top so you can close or minimise them.
  1. Task View: Got too many apps open at once? Hit task view and you will be able to see them all side by side on screen. Great for desktop management… 
  1. Snap enhancements: Multitasking is part of everyday life, right? Browsing Facebook while doing the bills, watching Netflix while writing in Word.  Work in 4 apps at the same time by snapping them all to your screen.


Word, Excel and PowerPoint apps on your tablet and laptop 

Word, Excel and PowerPoint are the kind of things you use everyday - and now they will be the same whether you're using your phone, tablet or PC with the new universal Office apps. Excel has been made easier to use on a touchscreen for updating spreadsheets when you can't get to a laptop. Creating and editing documents and spreadsheets whether at your desk or out and about is easy too with Office for Windows 10.  

Organise your life with Cortana voice assistant

Let your PC and laptop help you organise you life with Cortana digital assistant. This voice-enabled feature was previously only available on Windows phones.

Now you can talk to your PC or tablet to do a whole host of really useful things. Such as:

  • Be informed of any new notifications or upcoming appointments in your calendar
  • Find answers to quick questions - such as, 'will I need a coat tomorrow?'
  • Add new appointments to your calendar by merely saying 'dinner with my brother on Monday'

'Having Cortana on your PC is like having another member of the family sitting around and helping you get things done,' said Microsoft's Joe Belfiore.


What's continuum?

Continuum is designed to make devices that use both touch and keyboard and mouse - a convertible laptop or tablet - much easier to use. A device that switches between laptop and tablet usually works in 2 specific modes: tablet and desktop.

With continuum, Windows will automatically adjust itself based on what you're doing. All you need to do is unplug or plug in your keyboard and choose the option from a prompt screen.

How it works:

  • You've been working on a report or spreadsheet using the mouse and keyboard, but want to finish up for the night and watch Netflix or browse the web
  • Unplug the keyboard and mouse, and a window will appear asking whether you want to go into tablet mode
  • Desktop windows will become full-screen apps which you can swipe and pinch and scroll with your fingertips
  • The homescreen will default to the touch-friendly Start screen, with all of your apps in colourful tiles
  • When you want to get back to work, plug the keyboard back in, exit tablet mode and you will see your regular laptop desktop

Joe Belfiore says this allows convertible devices to elegantly transform from one mode to another


The return of the Start menu

The Start menu has been a part of Windows since the mid-90s - did you miss it when Windows 8 launched without it? You'll be pleased to hear it's back where it belongs in the bottom left of your screen. It's been improved to blend mouse and keyboard and touchscreen controls. The menu looks the same as it always has, however there's an added space for you to pin your favourite apps and live tiles.


Spartan to make web browsing smarter? 

A new web browser has been designed to help make life a bit easier.

Spartan has the digital voice assistant Cortana built-in to help give a more tailored, personal web browsing experience - such as directions to a restaurant when you have visited its site.

Love doodling and annotating? With Sparatan you will be able to draw on a webpage with a digital stylus before sharing your annotated version over email.

Microsoft HoloLens

Windows 10 Hologram

(credit: AP)

This may sound a bit Back to the Future, but Windows 10 will in the future come out of your computer and into the space around you. Microsoft HoloLens is a headset that projects holograms of your Windows 10 apps across your view of the spaces around you.

See your apps as 3D holograms in front of your eyes rather than on the computer monitor, and interact with them with your voice and hand movements. The headset is still in development. During the show Microsoft revealed examples of virtual recipe apps beamed on to kitchen cupboards, and to-do lists onto the fridge. A video game was played over furniture, and a Skype call against a wall. 

Microsoft says HoloLens allows you to 'create, access information, enjoy entertainment and communicate in new and exciting ways'. 


Bring Xbox to multiple screens

Can't get on the main TV because someone is watching the soaps? You can now stream your Xbox One games from your console to another Windows 10 PC or tablet on your home Wi-Fi network.

Learn more about Microsoft Windows here

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