Microsoft has announced that Windows 10, the next version of its desktop and tablet operating system, will be available on July 29. And most current users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 will be able to upgrade for free.
Windows 10 (there is no version 9) brings back a more traditional Start menu combining a list of programs and options with customizable live app tiles. The option to use a Windows 8-style full-screen menu remains as well.
Also new to the desktop is Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Siri. The digital personal assistant responds to voice queries and text searches.
Internet Explorer will still be included, but Microsoft is pushing a new browser to the forefront, called Edge. Users will mostly notice its sharing features, like Inking, for marking up a Web page before sending it to friends.
Photos, Videos, Music, Maps, People, Mail, and Calendar apps have been updated too, and gamers can stream Xbox One titles from their consoles to their PCs.
Windows Continuum offers built-in support for laptops that convert into tablets and phones that can be connected to a monitor, mouse, and keyboard.
How to upgrade for free
If you’re running any edition of Windows 7 or 8, you can already get current with Windows 7 Service Pack 1 or Windows 8.1 Update.
After that, just make sure you have Automatic Updates enabled in Windows Update. An app called “Get Windows 10” will soon be installed, which will prompt you to reserve your upgrade.