Microsoft will be releasing Windows 10 on July 29, 2015. It will be available as a free download for anyone running Windows 7, Windows 8, or Windows 8.1, and the free update will be available for a year.
According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in a recent Fortune Magazine interview, “Windows has gone way beyond the PC. It’s one core, one store, one platform.” Here’s an overview of what we can expect from a couple of new features in the latest iteration of Windows – the Cortana virtual assistant, and the Microsoft Edge browser.
Microsoft Edge is an all-new browser created to give a better, more interactive web experience. The ability to easily type notes directly on web pages, clip sections of interest to save on OneNote and share them with others via email or social media are just a few of the exciting features of Edge. The focus on web sharing functionality and interaction with search and browsing really does give you the edge (!) and a better web experience.
The Edge browser speeds up performance, and having Cortana, the new virtual assistant built right into the browser, searches and browsing become even more interactive. Imagine using it while browsing a restaurant website, for example. Edge will be able to track down directions to the establishment in a sidebar, so you can easily get all of the information you need at once.
The Cortana virtual assistant is Microsoft’s answer to Siri. A search button on the taskbar now lets you search for anything with your voice, by asking Cortana questions. This function is virtually identical to how Cortana works on the Windows Phone. Just like Google’s “ok Google” prompt, you can also activate Cortana by simply saying “Hey Cortana.” It’s capable of searching for files on your PC, setting reminders and tracking things such as airline flights or the weather.
Cortana works across your devices and learns about you the more you use it. Over time Cortana becomes more personal and useful. As you use Cortana on your phone, your tablet and PC, it will save relevant facts and preferences and save them in a “notebook”, where you can edit and sort them to suit you. The ability to categorize things and keep some things private You can duck into this list of preferences and tweak things to your liking (much as with Google Now), while leaving some things off-limits to preserve your privacy is also very useful.
One reason for Microsoft offering the Windows 10 upgrade for free is to increase and improve Cortana’s database. It will improve only as much as people use it, and its ability to parse natural language will increase only as more and more people use it to chat on their PCs. This expanding database will improve the virtual assistant’s functionality, enabling it to handle increasingly complicated conversational queries.
Windows 10 enables apps to look and work great in all modes, on all devices. On 2-in-1 devices, screens can be optimized to work with touch or keyboard and mouse. Windows 10 also comes with great built-in apps like Maps, Photos, Mail & Calendar, Music, and Video. And these apps use OneDrive to back up your information and sync seamlessly across all Windows 10 devices.