Windows 10 rumour round-up: What’s Microsoft planning for its next major OS release?
Windows 8.1 launched for the public in October, but that doesn't mean Microsoft's Windows team immediately went on holiday. On the contrary, it started working on the next major release.
UPDATE: Microsoft has announced the next version of Windows. It is called Windows 10. Check out Pocket-lint Windows 10 feature round up or more details.
According to the latest batch of reports and leaks, the successor to Windows 8.1 will allegedly accomplish many things and come with an entirely new brand name.
Apart from bridging the gap between the classic desktop environment and the latest Windows experience, it will introduce much-requested features and unify Microsoft's three platforms (Windows, Windows Phone, and Xbox One).
That sounds like a lot of hopes pinned on to one operating system - and it's not immediately clear how Microsoft can juggle all of these ambitions and pack them into a single release.
Still, the rumour stories are popping up left and right. To help you keep track of it all, Pocket-lint has compiled a rumour round-up. Check it out and let us know what you think.
What is Windows 10 Threshold?
Goodbye, Windows 8
Windows 10 is the next version of Windows.
It was thought to be called Windows 9 and once went by the codename Threshold. Microsoft surprised everyone during a media event on 30 September in San Francisco, where it unveiled the next Windows as Windows 10.
Microsoft reportedly wants to abandon the Windows 8 brand with Windows 10, simply because Windows 8 was not well-received by critics and users. Microsoft has also said it didn't use Windows 9 because it "wouldn't be right".
The company also didn't want to go with Windows One, because it already used the "One" brand for other products.
When does Windows 10 officially release?
Microsoft confirmed it will ship Windows 10 to consumers in 2015 - though "later in the year".
During a Q&A session after its eventon 30 September, Microsoft elaborated on when exactly Windows 10 would officially release for consumers. It said Windows 10 would ship "mid next year" - and definitely "after the Build conference".
When will Microsoft show off Windows 10 consumer experience?
With the new year fast approaching, Microsoft is likely adding the final touches to Windows 10 and planning press events for the upcoming software. In fact, the company has just announced an event for 21 January.
Executives expected to speak include Terry Myerson, Joe Belfiore, and Phil Spencer, and they'll all focus on the "Windows 10 consumer experience". The company held a similar in event in September - but with a focus on enterprise.
At the time, Myerson, the executive vice president of operating systems, emphasisied that one of the most important customers for Windows is enterprise and that enterprises should evaluate the new version of Windows early.
Belfiore, the corporate vice president of operating systems group at Microsoft, also joined the stage to show off a very early enterprise build of Windows 10: "We're sort of looking at the basics of how Windows 10 will work," he said.
January's event will continue the story Microsoft began in September, according to the company. It'll also be streamed live, so anyone will be able to tune-in and watch the Windows 10 consumer experience demo for themselves.
When does the Technical Preview release?
Reports claimed Microsoft would introduce a "Technical Preview" of Windows 10 in autumn.
And they were right. Microsoft has announced the Windows Insider Program at its event in San Francisco. The program will only allow PC experts and IT Pros to get access to a technical preview of Windows 10 for desktops and laptops.
The Windows Insider Program launched on 1 October. You can join the program through Microsoft's Windows Technical preview page. Microsoft will also soon release technical previews of Windows Server and management tools.
"The Windows Insider Program is intended for PC experts and IT pros who are comfortable using pre-release software with variable quality. Insiders will receive a steady stream of early builds from us with the latest," Microsoft warned.
Anyone who wants to join the Windows Insider Program must first sign up. They will then be able to download the technical preview and submit feedback to Microsoft.
What's new in Windows 10?
Microsoft announced Windows 10 on 30 September.
The new OS will undo many messy bits that both critics and users didn't like about Windows 8, while also bringing back some Windows 7 elements and keeping touch alive for two-in-one devices.
Microsoft also wants Windows 10 to be a one-application platform. Check out Pocket-lint Windows 10 feature round up for more details... or you can look below at all the leaks and rumours that surfaced before Windows 10 unveiled.
Prior to September event: All the leaks, rumours, and confirmations
A single-yet-customised OS
Microsoft plans tp streamline the next version of Windows from three operating systems into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.
Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft, said there are no longer multiple teams working on different versions of Windows: "Now we have one team with a common architecture. This allows us to scale, create Universal Windows Apps," he said.
Developers will be able to create one version of an app that should work across PCs, Windows Phones, and Xbox consoles. That said, Windows 10 is expected to be customised for different types of devices.
For instance: Some reports claimed mobile devices will have an app tile layout by default, while desktop and laptop users will have the traditional Windows layout by default.
As for hybrid devices running Windows 10, like the Surface Pro, they'll boot to a desktop layout if a keyboard is attached.
Microsoft's Cortana is the equivalent to Apple's Siri and Google's Google Now.
It debuted on Windows Phone 8.1. According to tech website Neowin, which apparently had access to internal Windows 10 builds, Cortana should make it to the final version of Windows 10.
It is thought Cortana will be deeply integrated into the OS, likely bringing new search capabilities. It's not clear how Cortana and Bing will co-exist on Windows 10.
The Charms bar, a feature ushered in by Windows 8.1, offers access to quick settings and functions. Although it is considered useful for touch-enabled devices, its effect is lost when a mouse and keyboard are thrown into the mix.
Leaked screenshots of Windows 10 builds have shown the Charms Bar will not make it to the desktop and laptop versions of Windows 10. It might not even be included in the tablets and 2-in-1 laptops version of Windows 10.
ZDNet has claimed Metro-style windows apps will get title bars with menus and Charm features. Microsoft might nix the Charms bar from a dedicated position on the desktop and instead fold relevant Charms into the title bars of apps.
Developers will allegedly need to add enable Charm features for their apps.
Teased during the Build 2014 keynote address, the Start menu that disappeared in Windows 8 is officially returning with Windows 10, according to Microsoft.
Leaks have revealed the classic Start menu will appear in the bottom-left corner of your screen. It doesn't take over the entire screen in a tile-layout as it does in Windows 8. The order of things is different from Windows 7's Start Menu.
Folder shortcuts are at the top, for instance, and pinned Live Tiles are on the right side of the Start menu, where they can be resized and reordered in a gridview.
One last thing: according to a leaked video, the full screen Start menu isn't completely gone and might be accessible through Taskbar.
READ: The Start Menu is back
Virtual desktops is thought to be another major change in Windows 10. It will allow you to spread your work across multiple desktops, while still remaining on one device.
The idea is that you will have an improved workflow, free from clutter. You will likely be able to control or access the feature by clicking an icon on the left side of the taskbar, as several leaked screenshots have revealed.
Two German websites, called Computer Base and WinFuture, recently published about 20 screenshots that show off a leaked build of Windows 10.
Change included a notification center in the corner, as well as a Start Menu, tweaked Taskbar, and a new search icon near the Start button. There's even another icon next to the Start button that might lead to the virtual-desktop feature.
And finally, WZOR claimed that Windows 10 will focus heavily on cloud computing and even indicated a type of Chrome OS-like operating system that would require an internet connection.
ZDNet also described Windows 10 as the bridge between Microsoft's past of big-bang releases and a licensing model to one focused on the cloud. That said, it's not immediately clear how deeply Windows 10 will focus on the cloud.
It might just be the first step down a long road of transitions. Keep in mind Microsoft's CEO was formerly responsible for building and running the company's computing platforms, developer tools, and cloud computing services.
It's therefore safe to assume Microsoft will want to embrace cloud-computing in the near future.
Check out the leaked videos below to see certain features - such as the Start menu, notification center, and virtual desktops - in action.
After September event: All the leaks, rumours, and confirmations
Microsoft rolled out a new build (9860) of Windows 10 in October. It was considered the first update to the Windows 10 Technical Preview release and featured nearly 7,000 improvements and fixes.
One of the newest features was a Notification-like Action Center. You can access it in the system tray to see alerts from traditional Windows apps, system notifications, and Windows 8-style apps. Notifications appear grouped by app and time.
Another feature involved a new keyboard shortcut (WIN key+Shift+Direction Arrow) for moving apps between monitors. Microsoft also included an animation for when you toggle virtual desktops.
You can get the latest Windows 10 builds via Windows Update. You can also get it by going to PC Settings, then Update and recovery, and Preview builds. From there, click the Check Now button, then download, and install the build.
Upgrades for phones
If you own a Windows Phone 8 device and are curious about whether you'll get a software upgrade next year when Windows 10 releases, fret no longer. Microsoft has confirmed Lumia devices will.
The official Lumia Twitter account publicly tweeted the following: "There will be Windows 10 upgrades for all Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices :) And we will release new Windows 10 models in the future!"
Windows Central was quick to point out that Microsoft's Lumia team left out "phone" from the Windows 10 upgrade description, reaffirming plans about Microsoft no longer using "phone" when marking Windows 10-based smart devices.
That's not too surprising though, considering Satya Nadella, Microsoft's CEO, said the company wanted to streamline the next version of Windows into one single converged operating system for screens of all sizes.
A converged operating system wouldn't really be converged if it went by multiple names across various devices. That said, many reports have questioned if it's too early to speculate which devices will get the Windows 10 update.
Microsoft did say "all" Lumia Windows Phone 8 devices though, so we'll go ahead and classify that statement as fact.
How much will Windows 10 Cost?
According to Indonesian news site Detik.com, which was first spotted by BGR, Andreas Diantoro, the president of Microsoft Indonesia, has announced that Windows 10 will be a free upgrade for all Windows 8 users.
Russian collective/leakers WZOR also claimed earlier this year that Microsoft is considering not charging for Windows 10. ZDNet however, which often reports accurate Microsoft rumours, has heard the opposite.
Different SKUs of Windows will be offered at different prices to OEMs and consumers, and that the desktop version of Windows 10 will definitely cost something, according to ZDNet.
If that's the case then, there has been no word yet on pricing specifics.