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Windows was never gone, but it’s about to make a comeback nevertheless. You can currently observe how Microsoft is getting its flagship up to speed Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Windows 10: The Dream Of A Cross-Device Operating System Is Becoming Reality & It's Free Microsoft is boldly stepping into the future with innovative software and hardware. Windows as a service and mobility of experience were the major keywords from the recent Windows 10 briefing. Most importantly, Windows 10 will... Read More . After a week full of exciting announcements, you may wonder what else they’ve get up their sleeve. Let me summarize.

Upgrading to Windows 10

Free Upgrade from Windows 7 and 8.1

Back in January, Microsoft announced that if you’re currently running Windows 7 or 8.1 or own a license, you can upgrade to Windows 10 for free. When you upgrade from within Windows, your personal files, as well as installed programs and settings will be maintained. The upgrade will be free within one year of the final release of Windows 10 and valid for the supported lifetime of the respective device.

Upgrade Available to Non-Genuine Copies of Windows

Microsoft’s operating system chief Terry Myerson told Reuters that even if you’re running a pirated copy of Windows 7 or 8.1, you will be able to upgrade to a legitimate version of Windows 10.

“We will provide a mechanism for non-genuine Windows 10 PC devices to ‘get genuine’ via the new Windows Store, whether they are upgraded versions of Windows or purchased.”

Microsoft must have realized that they are fighting a losing battle against piracy, especially in countries like China, where an estimated 75% of Windows installations are not genuine. In case you’re tempted to follow this path to obtain Windows 10 after its final release, note that an upgrade won’t necessarily turn a pirated Windows into a genuine copy. At this point, the consequences aren’t entirely clear, but non-genuine installations of Windows might not have access to support.

Free Windows Applications for iOS and Android

Even before the Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview 3 Easy Ways To Install Windows 10 Technical Preview You can try Windows 10 Technical Preview for free and help Microsoft polish its new flagship operating system. Before you install it, make sure you choose the best method for your needs. Read More launched, Microsoft was busy releasing appications on other platforms, including Office for Android and iOS Microsoft Office Leaps Into a New Era with Touch First Apps & New Desktop Suite Microsoft Office Leaps Into a New Era with Touch First Apps & New Desktop Suite Office has been the gold standard for office suites for a very long time. Microsoft is working hard to keep it that way as it's expanding to new platforms and technology. Read More , and more recently a lock screen for Android Microsoft Made An Android App: Meet Your Next Lock Screen Microsoft Made An Android App: Meet Your Next Lock Screen Microsoft has released a lockscreen replacement app for Android. Is it any good? Read More . Now they are planning to bring Cortana to iOS and Android Cortana Coming to Android & iOS, Facebook Clarifies Community Guidelines [Tech News Digest] Cortana Coming to Android & iOS, Facebook Clarifies Community Guidelines [Tech News Digest] Cortana crosses platforms, Facebook's community standards, Yahoo's password pact, 360-degree YouTube videos, Family Feud on Google, and a 1980s montage of Boston Dynamics robots. Read More .

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Windows Phone 10 & Building Bridges for Developers

With Windows Phone 8, the name suggested that it was pretty much the same as Windows 8, but that wasn’t quite the case. One of Windows Phone’s biggest issues was the lack of apps. The desktop and mobile versions of Windows 10 share more than the name and a similar interface. It’s a unified platform and Microsoft is making it attractive for both consumers and developers.

Users will benefit from universal apps that run both on the desktop and on the mobile platform. To encourage the development of such apps, Microsoft has open sourced .NET Core and MSBuild, a build engine that’s part of Visual Studio. The tool can now be ported to other platforms, making it available to a wider range of developers.

ROM to Port Windows 10 to Android Phones

Taking the cross-platform idea even further, Microsoft is planning to offer a custom ROM to install Windows 10 on Android devices. To that end, Microsoft has partnered with Xiomi, a Chinese smartphone manufacturer. In Asia, people commonly install custom ROMs to escape the restrictions placed on Google Play. They are currently testing the ROM with Xiaomi’s flagship device, Mi 4.

Xiaomi Mi 4

Small Footprint & Compression

As a cross-platform operating system, Windows 10 is challenged to support a wide range of devices, including tablets and phones. On devices with limited storage every GB counts. On systems with sufficient RAM and CPU performance, Windows 10 will compress system files and save between 1.5 (32-bit) and 2.6 (64-bit) GB of storage space. Furthermore, Windows 10 devices won’t require a recovery partition, reducing the OS footprint by several more GB. Instead, recovery resources are integrated in the system itself. Taken together, these measures will save up to 14GB.

Windows 10 Compression

The Coolness Factor

Cortana

Cortana is a character Cortana Arrives on the Desktop & Here's What She Can Do for You Cortana Arrives on the Desktop & Here's What She Can Do for You Is Microsoft's intelligent digital assistant as competent on the Windows 10 desktop as she is on Windows Phone? Cortana has a lot of expectation on her shoulders. Let's see how she holds up. Read More . While she might only be catching up with Siri and Google Now at this point, it’s obvious that with Windows 10 running across platforms and Cortana coming to iOS and Android, she will soon be the reigning queen of digital assistants.

Windows Hello & Passport

Authentication with biometric data isn’t a novel movement; fingerprint scanners on laptops for example have been around for several years. Microsoft takes this a step further, however. First, you will be able to log into your device with Windows Hello, which uses your fingerprint, facial recognition, or a retina scan to identify you. These biometric data will be stored locally and will never leave your computer.

A successful login through Windows Hello Say Hello to Windows 10, Nintendo Embraces Smartphone Gaming [Tech News Digest] Say Hello to Windows 10, Nintendo Embraces Smartphone Gaming [Tech News Digest] Launching Windows 10, Nintendo goes mobile, reviewing Android apps, reporting Twitter harassment, paying friends through Facebook, and Pixels depicts video games invading Earth. Read More will activate Windows Passport, which can automatically log you into supported websites and services. At launch, this will include Outlook.com and OneDrive on the consumer side.

In other words, you will no longer have to remember passwords or set up two factor authentication to be safe from hacking or theft. The catch is that these features require new hardware. Presently, only the Intel RealSense 3D Camera (F200) supports facial and iris unlock features. Older fingerprint scanners, however, will be supported by Windows 10 and the Windows Hello feature.

Xbox Music & Gaming Features

Xbox Music allows you to access and manage your music stored on OneDrive from the web and any Windows device, including the Xbox 360 and Xbox One. If you have an Xbox Music Pass, Microsoft even adds 100GB of free OneDrive storage space. For now, users of the Xbox Music app for Windows Phone 8.1 will need an Xbox Live account for the music to show up in the app.

Gaming on Windows 10 Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 Here's How Gaming Will Work With Windows 10 With Windows 10, Microsoft is bringing PC gaming and the Xbox One together in a big way. Find out what to expect once Windows 10 arrives. Read More will be something else. The Xbox app will be the new gaming hub, integrating with Steam and connecting gamers and their devices. Direct X12 promises significantly better performance, and with Holographic you’ll experience a whole different dimension.

Smart Timing of OS Release

An exact date is yet to be announced, but Windows 10 will be released this summer, just in time for the Back to School sale, Black Friday, and the Holiday season. With the pull of the new OS features and a fleet of novel hardware to boot, the timing will spur adoption rates for the new Windows flagship. This doesn’t mean you have to wait until late summer to buy a new computer When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Windows Computer? When Is the Best Time to Buy a New Windows Computer? The best time to buy is hard to predict. Don't wait around too long, not even for Windows 10. If you're looking to strike a deal, we have some advice on timing. Read More , though.

What Is Microsoft’s Master Plan?

Microsoft is clearly determined to engage as many users as possible with Windows 10. The interesting question is, what else do they have in store? How will they profit from their user base in the long term?

It’s quite obvious that Microsoft is moving to a Software as a Service (SaaS) strategy Subscribe to Windows 10? Microsoft Evaluates Alternative Payment Models For Their Products Subscribe to Windows 10? Microsoft Evaluates Alternative Payment Models For Their Products In the summer, it was rumored that Windows 10 might be free. Recently, Microsoft's Kevin Turner made comments about monetising Windows differently and that services would be involved. Microsoft is changing its business model. Read More , with Windows being nothing more than a platform for products that can be monetized. Examples of this are Microsoft Office 365, connected to OneDrive cloud storage, or streaming services like Xbox Music, which appears to be moving into the redesigned Windows Store. Microsoft is also embracing the freemium model, offering limited versions of its software and services for free to hook users into its ecosystem. Those offerings alone, however, are not enough for Windows to be sustainable.

What gives a platform leverage of course is its user base. Users are attracted by a rich selection of features, which in turn attracts more developers and their apps, or vice versa. Microsoft has previously failed to establish its mobile operating system as a market leader, mainly due to a lack of features. By uniting the desktop and mobile platforms, bringing a massive amount of people into the unified Windows ecosystem, and offering multiple avenues for developers to contribute to the Windows environment, they are creating the conditions for Windows 10 to thrive, both on desktop and mobile devices.

What is your take? Will Windows 10 prevail? And what’s not to like about this development?

  1. Nelson Delgado
    March 27, 2015 at 11:31 am

    Windows Convergence? ... big deal, Ubuntu has been at it for a while:

    http://www.omgubuntu.co.uk/2015/02/new-video-shows-off-ubuntu-convergence-demoed-on-tablet-phone

  2. Rajib Ghosh
    March 22, 2015 at 4:15 am

    M$ Exec1: We are getting buggered by the freeware OS (Android, Ubuntu)
    M$ Exec2: Let's make our OS freeware
    M$ Execs (All): Hear Hear
    M$ Exec1: In the words of Late Jobs, let us not look at our competition and say we will do it better. Let us look at our competition and say we will do it differently.
    M$ Exec2: Are you crazy? Look at how much resistance Jobs faced? We can't handle that. None of us have that much charisma to override the board. Lets go with the flow.
    M$ Execs (All): Hear Hear

  3. b
    March 21, 2015 at 5:05 pm

    I like the optimism of this article and it seems like Microsoft is getting back on track, but I've also seen how Microsoft can set things up sounding great and then do some gross corporate things. I imagine that Microsoft will charge for any and all updates, Apps will have compatability issues and necessary features will hide behind pay walls. Thoughts?

    • Tina
      March 24, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      What would be a necessary feature for you?

      Office has never been free. Microsoft just released Office Preview, a set of free universal Office apps that give a taste of Office, but with serious limitations. Enough for casual users and a teaser for those who need more functionality to buy into Office 365.

      As long as they don't take away anything that used to be free or that is commonly available for free in the same quality elsewhere, I wouldn't object a pay wall or paid updates. Microsoft isn't a charity after all.

  4. Paul
    March 20, 2015 at 10:33 pm

    " ROM to Port Windows 10 to Android Phones "

    Does this mean that someday I will be able to put Windows 10 OS on my Nexus 5 ?

    • Tina
      March 24, 2015 at 1:44 pm

      Right now they are only testing this for one smartphone model. In theory, yes. In practice, someone will have to develop a ROM for your Nexus 5 and I'm not sure how likely that is. I would suspect that if they develop ROMs for other devices, it will be the most commonly used, new models.

  5. Rob
    March 20, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    What's not to like? Free stuff for citizens, and corporations and organizations pay. Just like it should be. I'll buy a computer, a Band, a Surface, and other cool stuff which will also support them. One thing would make me consider NOT Microsoft, them becoming like Apple and Google.

  6. Monkey
    March 20, 2015 at 7:21 pm

    Cortana does work extremely well. What they need are the carriers to get on board and help promote the mobile platform.

    • Tina
      March 24, 2015 at 1:40 pm

      Good point! If they are smart they will launch more partnerships like the one with Deutsche Telekom (parent company of T-Mobile, one of the biggest carriers in Europe) and Xiomi.

  7. Nate
    March 20, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Cortana 'catching up to Siri and Google Now?' Haha! Yeah right. Cortana blew both out of the water almost immediately after release and continues to get better with regular updates.

    • Tina
      March 24, 2015 at 1:25 pm

      For Windows Phone that might be true. On the desktop version of Windows 10 Cortana is still kinda clumsy. But of course we expect her to be at least as good as the current Windows Phone 8.1 versions upon the final release of Windows 10.

  8. Doc
    March 20, 2015 at 5:37 pm

    There's a lot of confusion; according to Ars Technica, Windows 7 and 8.x "non-genuine" installs will remain "non-genuine."

    http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2015/03/the-windows-10-free-upgrade-for-pirates-more-confusing-than-it-seems/

    • Tina
      March 24, 2015 at 1:31 pm

      Yes, in the meantime Microsoft made it very clear that non-genuine copies will remain non-genuine. Still, anyone who decides to upgrade will experience Windows 10 and Microsoft hopes that the experience is good enough so users can be coerced into obtaining a genuine copy. Already now users of a non-genuine copy have not had access to some features or services and with Windows 10 that will probably be more relevant than ever.

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