Windows 10 release date, download preview & get it for free

When is Windows 10 going to be out, where can you get it from and how to get it for free

Windows 10 platform

Page 1 of 3Windows 10 release date, download preview & get it for free

Windows 10 is almost here, and it looks pretty exciting. The new OS has a chance to succeed where Windows 8 failed by being both a traditional desktop operating system for PCs and laptops, and an OS which works properly on smartphone and tablet touchscreens. In fact, Windows 10 will be designed to be truly universal operating system, with apps working across computers and mobile devices.

Microsoft's Build 2015 conference at the end of April gave us an even better idea of what to expect from Windows 10 and the direction the new operating system is taking, and so far we're certainly impressed. The opening keynote revealed a number of new features, and that the fact that Microsoft is planning to make it easier for developers to port Android and iOS code to the platform means the number of apps available, a current sticking point for Windows Phone and Windows 8, should rocket. For more details on what was unveilved at Build, see page 2 of this article.

Here we describe in detail what to expect from the new OS, including how to download and install the Insider Preview, and how to get Windows 10 for free when it arrives.

Windows 10 is launching in late July

The good news is that we don't have long to wait until Windows 10 is released, as Microsoft has finally confirmed that its new operating system will be launched this summer.

"We continue to make great development progress and shared today that Windows 10 will be available this summer in 190 countries and 111 languages," wrote Terry Myerson, the Windows chief, on a Microsoft blog.

Microsoft isn't following the release template of Windows 8 with Windows 10; for Windows 8 we had a Developer Preview followed by a more polished Consumer Preview five months later, whereas for Windows 10 there was a Technical Preview in October, but the Consumer Preview never appeared. Instead, Microsoft has been releasing new builds of Windows 10 on a rolling basis, which users can usually install from within the software - although sometimes a full reinstall has been required. Microsoft also renamed the Technical Preview as Insider Preview at the beginning of May, but the operating system remains the same. For details on how to download and install the Insider Preview, see "You can get Windows 10 TODAY" below.

What we don't know from Myerson's statement is what 'available' means and how we'll actually be able to download and install the new operating system. Given that Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will be a free update for Windows 7 and 8 users, it's feasible that as soon as the new OS is complete and designated as Released to Manufacturing (RTM), it could be available as a free download, in a similar way to how Apple releases updates to its OS X operating system. We've already seen this kind of in-place upgrade with Windows 8, which was upgraded to Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store, but Windows 7 doesn't have a Store and therefore such a neat upgrade path.

As for exactly when Windows 10 will launch within Microsoft's rather large 'summer' timeframe, AMD shed a little light on the subject in its earnings call in mid-April. According to AMD's president and CEO Lisa Su, Windows 10 will launch in late July.

When answering a question concerning inventory plans, she said, "with the Windows 10 launch at the end of July, we are watching the sort of impact of that on the back to school season, and expect that it might have a bit of a delay to the normal back to school season inventory build-up."

We still don't know an exact date for the launch of Windows 10, but with the summer months rapidly approaching, we shouldn't think it will be too long before Microsoft reveals the full extent of its Windows 10 release plans.

You can get Windows 10 TODAY (if you’re brave)

Microsoft launched the Technical Preview last year, and has now renamed this early version of Windows 10 the Insider Preview. This is still early software, but we've found it to be pretty reliable so far. If you want to see Windows 10 in action, our in-depth guide on how to install the Windows 10 Insider Preview shows you how to get it running on a fresh PC, with a dual-boot configuration and on a virtual machine.

Windows 10 will be FREE for Windows 7 and 8 owners

For the first year after launch, anybody running Windows 7, 8 or 8.1 will be able to upgrade to Windows 10 for free. It’s a good move from Microsoft, as it helps manufacturers and system builders sell computers and laptops now, with consumers safe in the knowledge that they’ll get the new OS when it launches for no additional cost.

We don’t have other pricing information, but if Microsoft sticks to current prices, expect to pay around £70 for a home-user licence. There may be some surprises on that front, but we’ll bring you more information when it’s available.

There was some speculation that Windows 10 would also be available as a free upgrade for those running "Non-Genuine" (pirated) versions of Windows 7 and 8, but this has been debunked by Windows chief Terry Myerson. Essentially, Microsoft plans to offer "attractive Windows 10 upgrade offers" to those running pirated Windows, possibly with the hope of at least getting some money out of those who are averse to paying for their Windows.

There is some excellent news for those who have taken the plunge with the Windows Insider Preview (see above) - they will be able to upgrade to the full version of Windows 10 for free. Worth putting up with the occasional crash for, we reckon.

No more VERSIONS

Rather than waiting years for a big update, Microsoft is promising more regular updates. Terry Myerson announced the news at Microsoft's press conference in California. Myerson also said that the question of "what version are you running?" will soon cease to exist, as Microsoft aims to keep developing Windows 10 for the foreseeable future, suggesting it could be "one of the largest internet services on the planet" in the next couple of years.

This is great news for consumers, as it could signal the end of big drastic OS upgrades every few years. It's also good news for developers as it means they'll be able to target all device types with just one application, providing greater parity across PC, laptop, mobile and Microsoft's Xbox One games console ("the most fun games console ever", according to Myerson). How a constantly updated OS will affect consumers and business is another matter, however, but we have some ideas.

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