We now have more detail on to how Microsoft is planning to distribute Windows 10. Like previous versions, there will be multiple editions of the operating system. With Windows 7 we had Home Basic, Home Premium, Professional, Enterprise, Ultimate and Thin PC. Editions of Vista and XP were roughly the same. Windows 8 was cut back a bit with just three versions, but Windows 10 aims to revive the multiple version sales strategy.
What is it? – Announcement of the Windows 10 versions
When will it launch? – This summer for PC, later this year for other devices
New features? – New versions; Home, Pro, Education, Enterprise, Mobile and IoT
Who can upgrade to Windows 10? Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 users are eligible for a Windows 10 upgrade
Windows 10 is currently is beta and is being tested by Windows Insiders. It is for PCs, tablets, phones, Xbox, HoloLens and the new Surface Hub. Windows 10 will also power small, lower power devices such as ATMs, heart rate monitors, wearables and elevators by using the IoT version. The Xbox One will run Windows 10 later this year with a possible dashboard design tweak.
Microsoft is simplifying the naming conventions for Windows 10, there are seven versions in total starting with the basic “Home” and the simply named “Pro” editions which will replace the Home Professional and Home Premium ranges. Microsoft is also working on a Windows 10 Enterprise edition which will be designed for big companies and corporations as it features Office 365, Business Cloud and domain name integration, server admin support as well as easier deployment for IT staff.
Windows 10 Home is the basic edition for consumers, it features the new Edge Browser, (but Internet Explorer is tucked away in the OS somewhere) Universal app support, Cortana and a new biometric system called Windows Hello. Hello lets you sign into your PC using your face or fingerprint.
Windows 10 Home will be the default version that will ship as standard on desktops, laptops and 2-in-1 devices. Users will also have access to Xbox Live for Windows, the Game DVR and Xbox One users will be able to stream their favourite games from their consoles to any Windows 10 PC on the home network.
Windows 10 Pro certainly is a better name than Home Professional and the Pro edition has all the features of the Home edition but with support connecting to various cloud services and managing Windows 10 Mobile devices. Pro customers can opt in to Windows Update for Business to receive security patches that are delayed so they can be tested by other users. Windows Update for Business makes sure that business users don’t have as many problems.
Windows 10 Enterprise is very much like the Pro edition but if has a few extra editions such as volume licensing and Device Guard which won’t allow apps onto the system if they aren’t digitally signed and prevent them from accessing the network. Also, Windows Update for Business is included.
Windows 10 Education has specific licensing tools for academic users as well as the majority of features from the Enterprise edition but has a range of tool for school administrators. Students of the schools can upgrade from Home or Pro to this version but whether it will expire once they leave is left to be known.
“This edition will be available through academic Volume Licensing, and there will be paths for schools and students using Windows 10 Home and Windows 10 Pro devices to upgrade to Windows 10 Education” – Windows Blog
Windows 10 Mobile replaces the “Windows Phone” name and Mobile has support for universal apps, free Office subscription for phones and small tablets as well as Continuum which allows a phone to act as a PC when connected to a monitor. Windows 10 Mobile will also include a touch-optimised version of Office at no charge. I guess that Microsoft is hoping that users can try this version and like it then purchase Office 365 for their PC or Mac.
Mobile Enterprise is the same as Windows 10 Mobile but with specific tools for volume licencing and device management tools for companies. Admins can also choose which apps that users use and the ability to push updates to users.
Windows 10 IoT is a special edition for low power devices such as the Raspberry Pi. It has a smaller footprint and is more suitable for gateway devices.
Lately Google’s range of Chromeboxes and Chromebooks have proved popular with students and schools – Microsoft has responded to this move with the HP Stream range and with Windows 10, Microsoft has a specific version for education. Lenovo and Dell have already issued endorsements for Windows 10 and that their customers are anxious to upgrade to the latest OS, as Windows 8 was too much to early, the return of the Start menu and usability makes Windows 10 a compelling upgrade.
In a report from IDC, Jay Chou said that
“The release of Windows 10 could appeal to businesses that want to upgrade PCs but passed on the maligned Windows 8”
Microsoft is still trying to battle with Google’s web based Chromebooks and Chromeboxes with cheaper laptops that run Windows 8 with Bing which helps bring the overall cost of the computers down as the Windows licence is at no cost for the OEMs. As mentioned the HP Stream 11 is £179 and can do more than a Chromebook as the Windows Store is becoming a better place to get apps.
For PCs at least, Microsoft is still scheduled for release this summer and for consumers will be a free upgrade for Windows 7 and 8.1 users, with a separate release for Enterprise. The Xbox One, Windows 10 Mobile and IoT are set for release on July 29.
We also know that Windows 10 will be the last version of the operating system, so rather than big releases every so often, Microsoft will update and fix issues in Windows 10 as we go along, much like the approach with he Xbox One operating system.
The way that Microsoft is planning on delivering Windows 10 has been well documented but some of it is still left unknown. However Microsoft has said that;
“We are offering the full versions of Windows 10 Home, Windows 10 Mobile, Windows 10 Pro as a free and easy upgrade for qualifying Windows 7, Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone 8.1 devices that upgrade in the first year after launch. Once you upgrade, you have Windows 10 for free on that device.”
So mobile devices that are running Windows Phone 8.1 will get Windows 10 Mobile for free, but even after the first year it should be still free.
But for PC, Windows 10 will be free for the first year as long as you have Windows 7 or Windows 8.1. Users with Windows 7 Starter, Home Premium or Windows 8.1 will get Windows 10 Home for free. Windows 7 Professional or Ultimate as well as Windows 8.1 Pro will be eligible for a upgrade to Windows 10 Pro for free.
Another thing we do know, Windows Insiders will be able to get the final version of Windows 10 once it is released for free – but exactly how it work is yet to come.
Overall – there are still a lot of questions for Microsoft to answer, but Windows 10 is set to launch soon so then we may know more. If you want to try out Windows 10 for yourself, go to the Insider page. The most current build is 10130.
Any questions or tips for Windows 10? Just add them to the comments.