The Giraffe Guide To… Windows 10

With Windows 10 just around the corner, the Giraffe team take a look at what you need to know about Microsoft’s latest blockbuster offering.

How much does it cost?

The first thing everyone asks when a new version of any software package is release is, “How much is this going to cost me?” Well, in a major departure from every previous version of the operating system, Windows 10 is a free upgrade. Yes, that’s free! If your PC currently runs Windows 7 or Windows 8.1, you’re entitled to upgrade to Windows 10 once it becomes available. The only stipulation is you must download and install it within a year.

When can I get a copy?

Windows 10 will be released on July 29 2015. There’s currently an automatic update rolling out to all devices eligible for the upgrade. Once you register your interest, the update program will produce a popup window that takes you through the registration process. You don’t have to update and you can cancel your pre-order at any time, as there is no commitment.

What’s new?

It’s a well known fact that many people hate Windows 8. The main gripe is the absence of a “Start” menu. A new, improved version of this old favourite is back in Windows 10. It can now be fully customised so it works how you want it to. It has the old start menu’s layout, allowing you to access your software easily and has an improved search bar built in, so you can find anything on your PC from one place. The upgrade also includes Windows Defender, which will help prevent malware taking over your machine as you browse the internet. Internet Explorer has been completely replaced by a new browser called Microsoft Edge. From early reports, this seems to up the browser game a little. It allows you to make annotated notes on webpages and can be run in reading view, making reading the web easier and much faster.

Microsoft have also brought Cortana to the party. For those who don’t know who she is, Cortana is Microsoft’s version of Apple’s Siri or Google’s Now. This intelligent personal assistant has only been available up to now on Windows Mobile devices. Cortana will learn what you like and recommend things you may have missed and could find interesting. You can set up reminders, calendar entries and more by talking or typing your instructions. She will even sync to your Windows phone. Rumour has it that Cortana may be heading for Android and IOS in the not too distant future, making this feature even more useful.

What about security?

As with all operating systems, security updates are important and they will be free for as long as the operation system is supported (until around 2025). There are also built-in biometric-based features allowing you to login with your face, iris or with just a finger. These features will require additional hardware, but manufacturers are likely to add these options to their PC and tablet offerings in no time.

If you’re an Xbox gamer, Windows 10 is setup to link to your Xbox One and you can use your PC to record, edit and share whatever game you are playing. You can also stream your Xbox One games to your device, allowing you to play them anywhere in your home.

Anything else?

Yes! Windows Continuum is the new way Windows 10 can change its layout between PC and tablet modes, making the best use of whatever device you’re using. Your experience is optimised, whether you’re using touchscreens or the more traditional keyboard/mouse set-up. You can also plug a monitor, keyboard and mouse, enabling you to use your Windows 10 phone just like a computer, making it even easier to work on the go.

Early reports indicate Microsoft have listened to feedback and made some nice improvements all round. The fact that it’s free means everyone can give it a try without any cost ­– we certainly will be! Once it is released at the end of July, we’ll let you know our thoughts and how it compares to previous versions.

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