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Copyright 2021, Faulkner Information Services. All Rights Reserved.
Publication Date: 2107
Report Type: PRODUCT
After producing the much loved and well-reviewed Windows 7, Microsoft
seemingly took a step backwards towards its disastrous Vista days with the
release of Windows 8. Radical (some would say ill-advised) changes to the
operating system left many users feeling lost and confused when upgrading to
Windows 8. Factors like the loss of the ever-present Start menu made formerly
loyal Microsoft fans feel like the company was more interested in following its
own design philosophy than listening to their desires. With the launch of
Windows 10, the OS maker realized the error of its ways. The refreshed platform,
at its core, is about combining the comfort and familiarity of Windows 7 with
the iterative portions of Windows 8 that users truly did engage with. The result
is a Windows operating system with a more traditional, yet
still innovative design.
- Related Faulkner Reports
- Pricing and Editions
- Web Links
[return to top of this report]
Windows 10 is actually Microsoft’s ninth major iteration of its operating
system, with the Windows 9 name having been skipped over. Some say the move was
a way to distance the new version from Windows 8, while others simply believe
Microsoft was counting its Windows 8.1 update as a ninth generation.
Related Faulkner Reports
Microsoft knew it had a tough job ahead of it in gaining back the trust of
its customer base with the release of Windows 10. The sweeping
and disruptive changes to Windows 8 left the company’s customers feeling
that their desires were being ignored and that Microsoft had chosen its own
design philosophy ahead of a satisfying user experience. Because of this, the
company knew that it needed a grand gesture to get customers back on its side. And it delivered. Instead of being made available for sale as a paid upgrade
like every previous generation of Windows, Windows 10 was made
available as a free update to anyone with a legal copy of Windows 7, 8, or 8.1
for the first year following its release. This radical departure from
Microsoft’s typical business model provided the company with an opportunity to
gain massive early user adoption figures due to the complete lack of upgrade
costs, while also giving it the chance to win back many of the users who may
have lost faith in the Windows-based PC platform. While the free upgrade period
for Windows 10 has since expired, the measure seems to have done its job with
Windows 10 now present on nearly 79 percent of all windows-based PCs, having
Windows 7 all the way back in December 2017.1 To put this figure into perspective,
Windows 8/8.1, which has now been available for more than five years, still only
rests at a combined adoption rate of 4.71 percent, and falling.2
Initial User Reaction
Windows 10 is, in many ways, more of a follow up to Windows 7 than it is to
Windows 8. First, it is, once again, a reparative release, as Windows 7 was.
Where the seventh generation of the OS was repairing the damage done by Windows
Vista, Windows 10 needed to undo the damage done by Windows 8.
Similarly, Windows 10 was actually not what could best be described as a
revolutionary update. Instead, it is designed to be an iterative revamp, with a
focus on cherry picking the best aspects of each of its past two predecessors to
create a single modern OS capable of satisfying traditional users while also
offering new and exciting capabilities for the technically progressive.
In its quest to combine the best of both worlds, Microsoft made a concerted
effort to listen to the complaints that consumers had about Windows 8. The most
infamous of these was, of course, the lack of a Start menu. Thankfully for
traditionalists, the Start menu made its return in Windows 10, albeit
in a slightly altered form. This theme of slightly updated but familiar
components runs throughout Window 10, with new coats of paint being applied to the control panel,
applications tray, notifications pane, and taskbar. Most importantly, these
changes undid the bifurcated world Windows 8 users had to inhabit. Most PC owners
could not entirely avoid the "Metro" UI introduced with Windows 8, nor
could they avoid the more traditional desktop that closely resembled Windows
7’s. This produced a disjointed, even schizophrenic user experience, with little
or no cohesive design philosophy covering the entirety of Windows 8. Although
solutions existed to bring the Start menu back in Windows 8, they were
third-party offerings and remained mostly unknown to the majority of users.
Thanks to Microsoft’s decision to essentially re-unify its own operating system,
these problems have been largely eliminated, bringing the OS much
closer to its roots while still breaking new ground.
Once it was established that Microsoft at least seemed to be
moving in the right direction, the most important litmus test of whether or not
it was truly succeeding in recapturing user goodwill was how the public actually reacted to Windows 10. The first members
of the population to receive access to the system, and also the first to
provide any feedback on it, were professional reviewers and system builders. When a new OS launches, this first round of reviews
can prove to be a make or break moment. Not only do many users get their first
peek at what they can expect from the OS, they also receive the educated
opinions of the technological elite to inform their own purchasing decisions.
Thankfully for Microsoft, Windows 10 surpassed its predecessor in this arena. Early reviews from respected tech blogs like Engadget
and The Verge gave the OS scores of 91 out of 100 and 8.8 out of 10, respectively,
with Engadget confirming that Microsoft had achieved its goal in combining
"the best of Windows 7 and 8."3,4 Although this is an admittedly
small sample, the praise and sentiments echoed through nearly every
major review from every well-known technology news outlet in the industry.
Similarly, system builders showed no qualms about offering
Windows 10 to their users immediately. While many PC manufacturers still offered
Windows 7 installations as an option to those wary of the problems caused by
Windows 8, those same retailers rapidly moved towards Windows 10 as a sole
As for the reaction of the average consumer, Windows 10 was generally seen as
a relief. Between the return of familiar interface features, such as the start
menu, and the complete lack of any upgrade cost for the first year of its life,
Microsoft has regained much of what it lost with Windows 8 and 8.1.
However, even if the opinion of the public or PC manufacturers should
sour, Microsoft has given itself a method to counter any lingering issues or
concerns by fundamentally changing how it handles the distribution of Windows as
a whole. This was accomplished when the company revealed that, as far as it was
concerned, Windows 10 would be the last version of the operating system it would
ever produce. This does not mean that Microsoft plans to cease production of new
operating systems, instead it points to a paradigm shift in which the company
moves towards iterative updates, and away from full-fledged OS upgrades. This
means that, going forward, users can expect to receive smaller, more tightly
focused updates and upgrades to Windows 10, but should not expect the release of
a "Windows 11" any time soon. In a few years, Windows 10 may have already come
to resemble something along the lines of what a Windows 11 release would have
looked like, but it will have gotten to that point through gradual updates and
iterative upgrades, not through a single revamp of its entire platform. This
flexibility should serve Microsoft well in the future, allowing it to make
faster, more responsive course corrections, and pre-empting any further
long-term blunders that poorly thought out moves like the elimination of the
Start menu could cause.
Although Windows 10 was purposely and wisely not designed to
revolutionize the platform in the way Windows 8 was, the latest version of
Microsoft’s OS does include some very important, perhaps even ground-breaking,
changes. These new and updated features are explored below.
Figure 1 offers a screenshot of the revived Start menu.
Figure 1. Windows 10 Start menu
Start menu – This is a logical place to begin, as it is likely the
change that will draw the most users away from Windows 8. Microsoft’s decision
to bring back to the Start menu was an obvious and logical one that has garnered
nearly unanimous praise from reviewers and public commenters alike. Although it
does closely resemble the traditional Start menu seen last seen in Windows 7,
Microsoft has chosen to integrate the Live Tiles of its Windows 8 Metro UI
into the revamped pop-out menu. Like their predecessors, these tiles update as
new information is pulled down from the Web, including previews of new articles,
incoming messages, and other content. The company has also brought back quick
access to the power menu, allowing users to shut down, restart, or hibernate
their PC with just a couple of clicks. This is an almost undeniable improvement over the
numerous sub-menus that needed to be navigated in Windows 8 to accomplish
the same task. Microsoft is rumored to be working on an update to the
Windows 10 start menu for an upcoming, undisclosed Windows 10 refresh, but all
rumors point towards minor tweaks rather than anything that could repeat the
mistakes of Windows 8’s major revamp.
Figure 2 shows the Cortana interface.
Figure 2. Windows 10 Cortana Interface
Cortana – First seen in Microsoft’s
Windows Phone OS, Cortana is the company’s voice-controlled digital assistant.
Designed to compete directly with existing offerings like Google Now and Apple’s
Siri, Cortana is named for the artificial intelligence found in Microsoft’s own
Halo videogame series. Cortana is capable of the usual selection of
voice-based assistant tasks including scheduling alarms, reminders, and
appointments; looking up certain forms of information, including weather
forecasts, facts, figures, and sports scores; and performing Web searches.
However, Cortana is also capable of a couple of other tricks that her mobile
counterparts typically are not. First, she can launch applications installed on
the same PC while also being able to interact with the user within certain
first-party Microsoft software. Second, Cortana keeps a "notebook" on
the user that collects his or her usage habits, browsing preferences,
important dates, important locations, names of relatives and contacts, and other
information. Microsoft has made it clear that it intends for Cortana to
learn the ins and outs of a user’s daily life much in the same way that a human
personal assistant would be expected to. The ultimate goal is for Cortana to
reach the point where she is able to offer the information that the user needs
before he or she even asks for it.
Figure 3 shows the touch-specific UI mode for Windows 10,
Figure 3. Windows 10 Continuum Touch Mode
Windows 10 Continuum – One of the biggest downfalls of
Windows 8 was trying to simultaneously cater to touch-based systems while also
still attempting to please users running a more traditional mouse and keyboard
setup. This lead to the creation of the Metro UI desktop and is almost
exclusively responsible for the split personality that Windows 8 and 8.1
exhibited. In order to nip this problem in the bud, Microsoft developed
Windows 10 to have two distinct versions of the same desktop, one for
the traditional peripheral-based user and one for users relying on a
touchscreen. Microsoft dubbed the feature "Continuum" and expanded
its capabilities by giving it the power to automatically adapt to the usage
situation. This means that most of the wide selection of convertible PCs
(those capable of functioning as both a tablet and a laptop) can automatically
detect which mode of operation is currently in use. If a mouse or touchpad is
the current primary input device, then the PC will retain traditional Windows
7-style icon sizes and menu layouts. If, however, the user has switched to
tablet mode, the screen will be rearranged so that icons are larger and
more finger-friendly and the selection of Live Tiles seen above can be
It is important to note that, at no time, is the user directed
to another desktop. Instead, all changes made during touch-mode usage are
carried through to mouse-based usage and vice versa. This is partially made
possible by the fact that Microsoft now allows Metro UI apps to run on the
standard desktop alongside more traditional applications. The result of all of
this is a single, unified desktop that serves touchscreen and non-touchscreen
devices equally well.
Figure 4 shows the option to use multiple desktops.
Figure 4. Windows Multiple Desktop Switcher
Multiple Desktops – To clarify, the new option in
Windows 10 to use multiple desktops does not refer to anything like the
Windows 8 Metro desktop. Instead it is something much closer to the options
that have been available on Apple’s OS X and via third-party applications for
several years. This mode allows users to keep multiple instances of their
desktop that they can switch between. This makes it possible to separate
designated desktops that are geared towards different tasks or to simply
organize a large number of windows that are in simultaneous use. The switching
interface seen above allows users to drag windows and apps between desktops
as well as support copying, pasting, and the other standard Windows
interactions and functions that are usable elsewhere in the OS.
Figure 5 shows an example of the expanded Snap function.
Figure 5. Windows 10 Snap Function
Windows 10 Snap – Although Windows users have been able
to "snap" most windows to the edge of a screen or to
maximize/minimize them by various methods since Windows 7, Windows 10 greatly
expands on this ability. Due to the growing number of large-format,
high-definition, and ultrawide monitors on the market, more and more users that
would have typically required a multi-monitor setup can now function quite well
with a single one of these larger displays. Often, the only obstacle making it
difficult for users to take advantage of all of their screen real estate was the limited snapping functionality of previous Windows versions. Microsoft
has attempted to ameliorate the situation by expanding the number of apps that
can be on screen at once to four. This is made possible by the addition of
snappable corners and side walls, as well as smart suggestions that can
automatically full a portion of the screen with an app the PC believes the user
will need access to (seen in the lower left quadrant above).
Figure 6 shows the Windows Hello login screen.
Figure 6. Windows Hello
Windows Hello – The new secured login screen is designed
to remove the need for passwords or usernames for computers that include the
required hardware. The new function makes use of biometrics derived from the
PC’s Web cam or fingerprint reader to verify that the user attempting to
access the machine is actually its owner or another authorized individual.
While the fingerprint reader technology has been in use for several years,
the camera-based login is relatively new. Microsoft claims that both methods
of accessing a secured machine are just as hard to circumvent as a
Figure 7 shows the Game DVR portion of Windows 10’s gaming features.
Figure 7. Windows 10 Gaming
Gaming Features – Windows 10 expands upon the gaming
features and Xbox integration that began with Windows 7. The new additions to
Windows 10 focus on two areas: Live streaming of Xbox games to a PC, and recording
and sharing in-game video.
Live Streamed Xbox Games – This feature allows users
with an Xbox One or an Xbox 360 to play their games
while sitting at a remotely connected PC. This means that many games currently
installed on the Xbox or present in its disk tray can be played as if the
user were sitting in front of the console, as long as their PC is on the
same network. The feature functions by using an Xbox controller that has
been connected to the PC to stream user inputs to the console, while the
console streams its video output to the PC. The result is an experience that
is almost identical to playing console games the traditional way. It should
be noted that a strong network connection is required for this feature due
to the high bandwidth required for the transmission of visual and control
data. Weaker wireless networks may be unable to provide a stable experience.
Game DVR – This feature allows users to enter a
single command (Windows Key+G) in order to begin recording their current
gameplay session. This works for both local games as well as streamed
titles. Recorded clips can then be edited, shared, and played back via the
Windows 10 Xbox app.
Figure 8 shows the Microsoft Edge browser with markup capabilities.
Figure 8. Windows 10’s New Edge Browser
Microsoft Edge – Microsoft Edge launched alongside
the operating system and came pre-installed as its default browser. The new Web browser
designed to provide an evolved form of the well-known, sometimes-lamented
Internet Explorer. To this end, it was created to offer a minimum of
distractions from the Web content being browsed, with few menu bars and smaller
interaction points. Edge also takes full advantage of several of the new Windows
10 features already mentioned here. These include its integration with Cortana’s
voice searches and commands, full touch compatibility (including the ability to
markup live Web pages seen above), and automated prediction features designed to
make browsing faster and easier by examining the user’s past habits. Since its
launch, the original Edge browser has been redesigned around the Chromium
framework, the same basis used by Google’s Chrome browser. While this change
garnered some significant praise among reviewers of the new browser, Microsoft’s
method of updating it and forcibly adding it to users’ task bars earned much ire,
with some calling its appearance reminiscent of a malware installation.
Figure 9 shows Microsoft’s Photos app
Figure 9. Windows Photos App
Windows 10 Integrated Apps – With the launch of Windows 10, Microsoft introduced several new and updated first-party applications. They
Photos – Microsoft’s solution for storing,
cataloging, sharing, and editing users’ photos. The app includes support for
several sharing methods as well as automated touch-up tools and
organizational functions based on date, location, and other factors.
Maps – The default method for finding locations and
directions on Windows 10, Maps combines "the best of Bing Maps and HERE
Maps" to provide the standard selection of location-based information
and routing, as well as making full use of Cortana and the data found in her
notebook to provide the user with predictive suggestions.
Groove – Windows 10’s built-in streaming audio
program. It features a wide selection of custom-tailored radio stations for
artists, genres, and more.
Movies & TV – This app allows users to collect,
organize, and view their personal collections of movie and television show
videos, including those they have imported themselves, as well as content
purchased from the Windows Store.
Mail & Calendar – Microsoft’s newest crack at a
communications and scheduling app follows a similar design philosophy as the
Edge browser, attempting to eliminate needless distractions while providing
quick navigation options, including gesture-based shortcuts and Cortana
Strengths and Weaknesses
Where Windows 8 began its life in a strong position, Windows 10 very much
did not. Like Windows 7, which was forced to follow the disastrous Windows
Vista, Windows 10 had to once again recapture the hearts and minds of PC
users. Although this may sound a bit overly dramatic, it is nonetheless
true. Microsoft’s industry dominance as a provider of the PC
operating system is by no means unassailable. With PC sales frequently on shakier
grounds than ever and the growing popularity of tablet and Chromebook-type
thin client devices, as well as Apple’s MacOS and even various Linux
distributions, there are indeed alternatives to Windows out there. Granted,
none of these can offer the massive selection of compatible hardware and
software that Windows can, but that is not the only factor at issue with
assuring that users will continue to purchase and upgrade to subsequent
versions of Windows. Rather, they must be given a compelling reason to
follow Microsoft along on its journey through subsequent generations of
Put simply, change is scary. Actually, change can be terrifying,
especially for IT departments needing to explore the ramifications of
telling tens, hundreds, or even thousands of workers that their PCs are
about to have an entirely different operating system on them. In order to
make these IT professionals, as well as the individual upgrader, believe
that the hassle of the whole thing is worthwhile, Microsoft must always accomplish
two things: It must prove to the user that the new OS will be better than
the old one, and it must convince them that they will not be confused or
reduced in their efficiency by upgrading. It is difficult to argue the fact
that, with the launch of Windows 8, Microsoft failed on both of these
fronts. Not only did the company provide very little in the way of material
improvements for users, particularly business users, but it confused and
angered many, many customers by taking away something as simple and integral
to the standard Windows experience as the Start menu. This was worsened by
the fact that, quite simply, no one had ever asked Microsoft to do it. Had
the company quickly and apologetically corrected the error of its ways, it
may have saved considerable trouble. However, it not only refused to bring
back the Start menu in Windows 8, but it made an almost insulting token
effort within the Windows 8.1 update by including a button that appeared to
be a Start menu but which actually launched the Metro UI desktop.
It is important to understand the breadth and scope of Microsoft’s
blunders in order to truly see the shape of the market into which Windows 10
launched. There are many Windows users out there that were flat out angry at
the company, having lost faith in Microsoft’s ability to understand their
needs as a user. The question, then, is why would these users ever pay
Microsoft for another version of its operating system. As stated above,
Microsoft found a very clever answer to that, it simply gave the newest
iteration of the operating system away for free instead. Although the offer
for a free upgrade to Windows 10 was only available for one year, the vast
majority of Windows 8 users were given the opportunity to update during that
time. This provided Microsoft with many benefits, including the
aforementioned ability to boast user adoption numbers that would have
otherwise been impossible and the convenience of once again having the
greater portion of its user base on a single operating system generation.
Although this casts the future of the OS itself in a very positive light,
the future of Microsoft’s bottom line may be in more question. A curious
reader may be wondering how the company handled with the lost
revenue that it usually derives from the sales of a new generation of
Windows. To answer this, it is important to separate and examine two
factors: The state Windows 8/8.1 upgrades were in at the time of the launch
of Windows 10, and the prevalence of
pre-installed Windows installations.
First of all, to be blunt, almost no one was upgrading their system to
Windows 8. This fact can be verified, if in no other way, by simply taking a
look at historical versions of the user adoption figures posted above. Less than 11 percent of all
users were running Windows 8 or 8.1 at the peak of that operating system’s
market share. Taking into account the portion of those
systems that were sold with Windows 8/8.1 pre-installed, the remaining
number of systems that were willingly upgraded to Windows 8 is minute. In
other words, Microsoft had essentially already lost the upgrade market
before it launched Windows 10; it was actually doing itself very little or
no additional harm by eliminating it entirely for the first year of Windows
Moving on to the second point, while Windows 10 was available as
a free upgrade to all Windows 7 and Windows 8/8.1 users, it was in no way
being made available for free to any other parties. This means that the
millions and millions of users and businesses still running Windows XP were required to pay to upgrade their systems. More importantly, however, it
also means that system builders were, and will continue to be, required to pay for each and every
copy of Windows 10 being installed on their PCs. This includes both the
at-home PC builder, as well as massive companies like HP, Acer, Asus, Dell,
and any other system maker that wants to be able to claim it offers the
latest OS on its PCs. When considering the number of consumers that simply
use whatever version of an operating system came on their PC when they
brought it home, it should become apparent that these types of customers
represent a major portion of the market.
With the prevalence of system builders in mind and the goodwill and lack
of financial impact detailed above taken into account, it certainly seems
that Microsoft has strengthened its own position by releasing a temporarily free, more
modular update to its primary operating system, an impressive feat given the
shaky ground that Microsoft had recently marched itself onto.
The future of Windows 10 currently looks very bright, at least until its
place is eventually usurped by its recently-announced follow-up, Windows 11. It’s human nature
to take advantage of most things being offered for free, unless they promise
some harm to the buyer’s comfort or security. Thankfully for Microsoft, Windows 10
was perceived as posing no threat to either, and actually promised to provide some massive
quality of life improvements to users who still found themselves struggling
with the odd duality of Windows 8. This is not to say that the transition
was smooth for everyone. There were hiccups in the
process of moving Microsoft’s user base to Windows 10, including early reports
of user’s experiencing days-long queue times before they could upgrade, as
well as difficulties updating from previous versions of Windows. However,
these types of growing pains are to be expected when moving literally
millions of users, all with varying levels of technical know-how, to an
entirely new generation of an operating system. Similarly, some users became
disgruntled that they were being pestered by their copy of Windows 7 or
Windows 8/8.1 to update. Thankfully, most of these complaints were largely
addressed, and the upgrade process was generally well received, especially
compared to the traditional method of updating previous generations of
Microsoft did a good job of providing useful and
well-received major updates to the OS. The company has moved away from simple
version numbers in favor of individually titled "Feature Updates." These
refreshes come less frequently than the company’s regular tweaks and security
updates, but promise to bring with them new capabilities and notable changes to
the UI. With names like "Anniversary Update" and "Creator’s Update," these
patches have added features such as expanded stylus support for touch-enabled
systems; the introduction of Microsoft’s own mixed and virtual reality
interface; the ability to "snooze" new updates during active usage hours; and
updates for the company’s OneDrive cloud-based storage service. Unlike some
previous attempts at keeping its operating system fresh, these mid-size patches
have largely been positively received, with many of the new features earning
praise from the press and public alike. That said, the company is still not
immune from angering its user base with decisions that were seemingly very
obvious to irritate. The most egregious example of this occurred during the
company’s aforementioned update to its Edge browser. The installation process,
which occurred during a normal Windows Update installation, not only updated the
browser, but it automatically launched itself upon the first startup,
automatically added itself to the user’s taskbar, attempted to force users to
complete a setup process during which they were asked to switch away from
Chrome, and reset many of the default apps with which the operating system was
set to open certain file types. The move angered and annoyed many in the public,
including The Verge’s Sean Hollister, who wrote the following passage:
If I told you that my entire computer screen just got taken over by
a new app that Iâ€™d never installed or asked for â€” it just magically appeared on
my desktop, my taskbar, and preempted my next website launch â€” youâ€™d probably
tell me to run a virus scanner and stay away from shady websites, no?
But the insanely intrusive app Iâ€™m talking about isnâ€™t a piece of
ransomware. Itâ€™s Microsoftâ€™s new Chromium Edge browser, which the company is now
force-feeding users via an automatic update to Windows.5
If Microsoft’s decision in this case aroused this much annoyance in an
undoubtedly tech-savvy blogger, imagine how annoying it must have seemed to many
users with only a fraction of the author’s know-how. It goes to show that the
Windows maker is still entirely able to shoot itself in the foot by over-doing
it on attempts to force its new software into user’s hands.
A Note on Windows 11
At the time of writing, Microsoft is preparing to release its
Windows 11 update late in 2021. The major refresh brings with it the most
drastic redesign since Windows 8. Once again, Microsoft plans to move its start
menu and to redesign several major aspects of its operating system.
Thankfully, none of the alterations seem quite as drastic as the Windows 8 revamp. That said, the update could potentially cause controversy, if
on a likely smaller scale than the aforementioned blunder. The company has
revealed that, like Windows 10, Windows 11 will be available as a free
update to Windows 10 users with PCs that meet the new OS' minimum requirements.
This should encourage more wary users to update than may otherwise have
abstained. Microsoft has also announced that it will continue to support Windows
10 through October 14th, 2025, giving those users who are still a bit iffy on
the whole matter several more years to acclimate, and giving the company time to
correct any issues that may arise with the public launch of Windows 11. It
remains to be seen if Windows 11 will be the generation when Microsoft breaks
its tradition of turning every other major generation of its operating system
into a mess only to have to redeem itself during the following iteration.
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The Windows 10 platform is built to support advanced consumer and
business software. Table 1 outlines Windows 10’s applications for various user segments.
Windows 10 supports consumer software and
Businesses will appreciate the expanded familiarity of
Thanks to Windows Continuum, developers can create a single app for
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Windows 10 is built to run on PCs, laptops, ultrabooks. The Windows
10 operating system runs all major
applications, and it offers networking, cloud connectivity, and
virtualization options for the workplace. Windows 10 is also compatible with all wireless networks and attached
devices designed to work with past versions of Windows, including those created
for Windows 7 and earlier.
[return to top of this report]
Microsoft provides support through online forums and documentation as well
as telephone support. As it did for other Windows releases, Microsoft offers
numerous support options for Windows 10.
Pricing and Editions
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Windows 10 is available in three main editions, only two of which are available for
retail sale. The versions are:
- Windows 10 Upgrade – For the first year of availability, the
upgrade to Windows 10 was available to all Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users as a
free download and installation. Each user’s device was upgraded to a
corresponding version of Windows 10, based on which previous version of Windows
he or she had installed. Below is a list of what each user could expect
to upgrade to, based on their current OS version.
- Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium upgrade to Windows 10
- Windows 7 Professional and Ultimate upgrade to Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 8/8.1 and Windows 8.1 with Bing upgrade to Windows 10 Home
- Windows 8.1 Pro upgrades to Windows 10 Pro
- Windows 7 Starter, Home Basic, and Home Premium upgrade to Windows 10
- Windows 10 Home – For system builders as well as users upgrading
from a version of Windows released prior to Windows 7, Microsoft offers a
full retail copy of Windows 10 Home for a starting price of $139.99.
- Windows 10 Pro – This version features all of the same capabilities
as Windows 10 Home, but also includes features designed for businesses and corporate IT
departments, including additional encryption, remote-log-in capabilities,
the ability to create virtual machines, and more. The retail price for
Windows 10 Pro is $199.99.
- Pricing depends on volume licenses and other factors.
- A "Windows 10 Pro for Workstations" version is also available for
$309.00. It adds support for high-performance protocols, such as
Resilient File System (ReFS), persistent memory support; and more.
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Windows 10 competes with Microsoft’s own operating systems as
well as those from Apple and open source vendors. Apart from earlier Windows
competitors include Apple’s macOS and a wide range of Linux distributions
including Ubuntu, openSUSE, Fedora, and various other Linux distributions. The
newest competitor is Google Chrome, a Linux-based OS designed to work
(almost) exclusively with Web applications on hardware from the company’s
manufacturing partners. The user interface offers the look and feel of Google’s
popular Chrome Web browser.
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- 1 "Desktop Windows Version Market Share Worldwide."
- 2 Ibid.
- 3 Devindra Hardawar. "Windows 10 Review." Engadget.
July 28, 2015.
- 4 Tom Warren. "Windows 10 Review." The
Verge. July 28, 2015.
- 5 Sean Hollister. "With Edge, Microsoft’s Forced Windows Updates
to a New Low." The Verge. July 2, 2020.
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- Apple: http://www.apple.com/
- Google: http://www.google.com
- Microsoft: http://www.microsoft.com/
- Novell: http://www.novell.com/
- Red Hat: http://www.redhat.com/
- Oracle: http://www.oracle.com/
- Turbolinux: http://www.turbolinux.com/
About the Author
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Michael Gariffo is an editor for Faulkner Information Services. He
tracks and writes about enterprise software and the IT services sector, as well
as telecommunications and data networking.
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