2015 will be Microsoft’s chance to regain long lost popularity as they release Windows 10, their new flagship and cross-platform operating system. Here’s what happened with Windows 10 in 2014 and the milestones you can look forward to in 2015.
What Happened So Far
In April, Microsoft released the last meaningful update for Windows 8.1, which addressed most user complaints, except for the Start Menu. By the time the second Windows 8.1 update came around in August, Windows 8.1 users had come to terms with the new OS or downgraded to Windows 7. Fueled by leaked screenshots, the tech world moved on to speculate about Windows 9.
On October 1st, Microsoft revealed the Windows 10 Technical Preview.
Why Windows 10? Because of its significance and because with Windows 95 and 98 the 9 had already been taken.
After a promising set of Windows 10 preview builds, the November Build 9879 showed some serious issues, including failed installations in the presence of Office, File Explorer crashes, and bricked hard drives, to name a few. Fixes were released quickly; it’s a Technical Preview after all. No official build was released in December, although some internal builds leaked.
This is where we are now and here’s what’s to come.
The Next Chapter, January 21st
On January 21st, Microsoft will hold a Windows 10 press event at its Redmond campus. Among the senior leaders responsible for the development of Windows 10, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella is expected to make a statement. The event will be available as a live webcast, details to be released soon on the Microsoft Windows Blog.
Meanwhile, in an update on the Windows Insider Program, Gabe Aul talked more about the next Windows 10 build, which will likely be released during the January 21st event. The build branch name, FBL_AWESOME, is meant to remind developers of their objective. You can follow the BuildFeed here. Whether this will be the consumer preview or another technical preview remains unclear.
All other expectations for this event are based on evidence from leaked builds or insider information. For example, the next build is expected to unlock Cortana, Microsoft’s virtual assistant, and Continuum, the tool that will sense the device type and adjust Windows behavior accordingly.
Monthly Windows 10 Builds
Mary Jo Foley writes that the next build will be known as the January Technical Preview (JTP), rather than consumer preview. Her sources also claim that the JTP will be followed by monthly builds called February Technical Preview, March Technical Preview, etc.
Windows 10 Mobile SKU Preview
It’s unclear when the mobile SKU Preview of Windows 10 will be released, but Mary Jo Foley predicts that Microsoft will demonstrate it during the January 21st event. The mobile version of Windows 10 is said to run on ARM and Intel tablets.
BUILD, April / May 2015
BUILD is Microsoft’s yearly Windows developer conference. During their September 30, 2014 event, when they initially revealed Windows 10, Microsoft announced a Developer Preview would be released for BUILD 2015. While this seems unlikely, given that they are planning to release monthly builds, we will certainly hear more about the final release schedule for Windows 10 during this event.
Windows Business Model, Spring / Summer 2015
What might also be announced during BUILD 2015 or shortly after, is the Windows 10 business model. At this point, Windows users are hoping for free or cheap upgrades. Microsoft COO Kevin Turner recently suggested that Windows 10 might be monetized as a service. Microsoft might release Windows components as Software as a Service (SaaS), i.e. with a subscription model, much like Office 365. Turner also announced that we will hear more about this in spring or summer 2015.
Final Release, Summer / Fall 2015
This is the most shaky milestone of all because so much could go wrong before the summer of 2015 rolls around. While Microsoft will most like miss the Back To School sale (once again), there’s hope they will release Windows 10 in time for Christmas 2015.
Are You Ready For Windows 10 In 2015?
If you’re eager to try the preview to be released on January 21st, you can now prepare your computer for the Windows 10 installation by downloading a tool from the Microsoft website. Your computer will then deliver the January Windows 10 release via Windows Update.
Alternatively, you can manually download and install the current Windows 10 Preview ISO file, which gives you more flexibility as to when, where, and how to install the preview builds. For example, you could try Windows 10 on Linux, install it in a virtual machine on your Mac, or dual boot it with Windows 7 or 8.
What Will Happen With The Preview At The End Of 2015?
Finally, good news for those who already have upgraded to Windows 10. According to Gabriel Aul, Microsoft intends to support a direct upgrade from Windows 10 TP to the RTM (Release To Manufacturing) version. If that happens, users will be able to seamlessly transition to the final release, while keeping all their settings and installed applications. That would be truly awesome!
— Gabriel Aul (@GabeAul) December 4, 2014
What is your biggest hope for Windows 10?