It’s Happening! The word on the street is that Windows 10 is complete; it has hit the release to manufacturing (RTM) stage, which means that hardware OEMs around the globe will soon be loading the final version of Windows 10 onto machines shipping at the end of this month. Microsoft first announced Windows 10 in late January (however, the operating system’s development dates back several years), and has gone through a lengthy public testing phase which has been made easier with the help of thousands of Windows Insiders.
The final RTM build of Windows 10 is 10240, which is quite a big leap from the last build we saw released to the Fast ring for Windows Insiders (Build 10166). Windows 10 marks a fresh start for Microsoft following the troublesome release of Windows 8, which sparked the ire of many longtime Windows users (the hours I’ve spent on the phone with my parents trying to walk them through accomplishing simple tasks in Windows 8.x has contributed to many new gray hairs atop my head). Instead of trying to force a touch-centric interface on users, Windows 10 relies on Continuum to allow users to easily switch between touch- and keyboard/mouse-centric environments.
Windows 10 also brings support for Universal Apps across PC, smartphone, and tablet form-factors, Cortana integration, the new Microsoft Edge internet browser, and new security features like Device Guard (among other things).
Windows 10 is a free upgrade for customers that have valid Windows 7 and Windows 8 licenses. Windows Insiders will also technically be able to access Windows 10 for free, but they can only do so if they remain Microsoft’s guinea pigs who must test a steady stream of updates that will eventually roll out to the general public. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently confirmed that his reasoning for making Windows 10 free was to give developers more incentive to develop for its smartphone platform. Whatever the reasoning, free upgrades are definitely appreciated and should help Windows 10 adoption to take off much faster than previous versions.
For those that don’t have a valid Windows 7 or Windows 8 license (and don’t want to join the Windows Insider program), you will be able to purchase Windows 10 starting July 29. The cost of an upgrade to Windows 10 Home will cost $119, while Windows 10 Pro will set you back $199.